30 Powerful & Proven Ways To Boost Member Retention In 2023
If you run a membership website, you have to fight for every new signup. Once you've gathered plenty of members, you may assume the hard work is done. However, if you don't consider member retention as well, those users can disappear quickly.
Member retention is what separates long-lasting websites with active communities from those that burn out. There are a lot of ways to incentivize users to stick around. Understanding those methods is essential if you want your membership website to be a success.
In this article, we'll guide you through 30 proven ways to boost membership retention, and discuss why each technique works. Let's get to it!
1. Publish Content Often
If you want members to stick around, you need to give them reasons to stay. Users who pay for subscriptions do so because they expect something valuable in return. What that is depends on the type of website you run, but the content needs to flow regularly.
It's common for users to cancel memberships if they don't know when you're going to update or when they're going to get the next benefit. Successful membership sites tend to run on schedules, so users know exactly what they're getting and when.
2. Encourage a Community
Along with regular perks, the second most common reason for users to pay for a membership site is the community. Depending on your site's niche, it might provide members with access to a group of like-minded people they can't find elsewhere.
To make this possible, you'll need to give members the tools they need to communicate. That can mean forums, open comment sections, a private Discord channel, or any other method of communication you can provide.
3. Moderate the Community
Unmoderated communities tend to be less friendly overall. The more toxic the community is, the more likely that users won't stay.
Moderating the community can take time away from updating your site and publishing new content. Even so, it's necessary if you want the website and its user base to grow.
4. Offer Multiple Membership Levels
There's a reason so many websites use a tier system for memberships. While some users might be happy paying $15 each month (to give an example), others might want to join at a lower price point.
Membership tiers cater to users with varying budgets. Each tier should offer different perks, while still remaining attractive. If you can find the right balance, you'll be able to attract a broader number of members and keep them around for the long haul.
5. Provide Guidance for New Members
If you run a membership site with a broad library of content or a large community, joining in can be intimidating. New users might not know where to start, and can miss out on important parts of their membership.
One way to avoid this issue is to provide guidance or a “roadmap” for new users. That way, they'll know how to find and access the perks they're interested in. If they can't find these perks, they might reconsider their membership sooner rather than later.
6. Ask Members What They Want to See
When you're running a website, it's easy to fall into the trap of focusing only on the content and updates you're interested in. However, if you want to retain members, you need to cater to their wants on some level.
A lot of membership sites and communities run regular surveys that ask users what they want to see next. You don't have to base your site's entire content schedule around the answers. However, if members know their voices are heard, it should have a positive impact on their long-term satisfaction.
7. Interact With Members
When you're paying for a subscription to a site, it's easy to feel like you're giving money to a faceless business. Even if the site gets regular updates, many users want to see the people in charge engaging with the community.
This can be as simple as dropping by the comment sections or forums from time to time, hosting Q&As, or interacting with members through social media. The more your community grows, the more engagement members will expect.
8. Pay Attention to Analytics
Analytics are critical for any modern website, but much more so for membership sites. If you want to increase member retention, you need to understand what parts of your site and its content users like, and which they don't care about that much.
Modern analytics platforms will give you a lot of insight into how users interact with your site. You can use this information to see what drives engagement on your website.
9. Organize Virtual Events
Virtual events, such as meetups or Q&As, can help members get to know each other and show them that they're part of a community. These types of events give you a more direct channel of communication with members.
Having multiple upcoming events can also act as a deterrent for members who are considering unsubscribing. If they know that an event they're interested in is coming up, they may give your site another chance.
10. Offer Discounts to Existing Members
One great way to keep members around is to offer them exclusive discounts. This makes users feel valued, and makes it clear that they're getting access to bargains because of their membership status.
One smart way to do this is to send personalized discounts to members for their continuing subscriptions. You can offer discount codes for longer subscriptions. Plus, doing this over email makes the offer feel more exclusive.
11. Encourage User-Generated Content
Some paid communities encourage users to contribute with their own content. That content can be anything from memes to fan art to articles. If you promote the results, you'll encourage users to be active in the community and foster their commitment.
What kind of content members submit will depend on your website and what it's about. The easiest way to encourage this type of interaction is over social media. Then you can post the best entries on the website, while thanking the creators.
12. Use Member Management Software
It's hard to retain members if you don't have an accurate picture of what they're up to. That's where member management software comes in. A plugin like MemberMouse enables you to get a bird's eye view of what users are doing, who has recently cancelled their membership, and more:
With this data in hand, you can look for trends and make improvements. For example, if you notice that members on a certain plan tier tend to leave more often than others, you could reassess what that plan provides.
13. Study Similar Membership Websites
Almost every type of website has competitors. In your case, those competitors are membership sites targeting a similar audience, or that offer content in the same niche.
Studying what these websites do and what they offer can provide ideas on how to improve your community and member retention. You might find that they post content more often, or offer perks that you haven't considered.
14. Offer Excellent Support
When users pay for something online, they almost always expect some level of support. This means that if they have any questions about the website or issues with their subscriptions, it should be easy for them to get help from you.
That can be as easy as including a contact page or a live chat on your site. You'll also want to reply to support requests as promptly as possible, so members know you have their backs.
15. Give Users a Peek into the Membership Experience
If members aren't happy with the perks and content after signup, they're unlikely to renew their subscriptions. One way to combat this is to offer visitors a peek into what membership looks like.
You can do this by providing limited free content or a free trial, so visitors have a better idea of what they're paying for. This way, they're less likely to have buyer's remorse after signing up.
16. Run Limited-Time Promotions for Members
A lot of online communities offer discounts and exclusive products for members. That means perks you can only get access to if you have an active subscription and you're there at the right time.
Running periodic members-only offers means users are encouraged to continue paying for subscriptions. The better the offers are, the more likely they can contribute to higher member retention.
17. Set Up an Email List
Email lists can be powerful tools for reminding users about your website. A lot of people forget about subscriptions and miss out on perks. This can make them decide that they're better off canceling.
An email list helps you stay in touch with members. Plus, it give them a heads-up when there's new content, offers, or fun events happening on the website.
18. Find Out Why Members Cancel
No matter how many member retention methods you implement, part of your user base will leave the site at some point. This is normal, since every membership website faces some level of churn.
A smart way to reduce that churn is to conduct a simple survey whenever someone cancels their subscription. Find out why they're leaving, and if you have a lot of members canceling for similar reasons, you'll know what problem needs to be tackled.
19. Leverage Gamification
Gamification can be a powerful tool to connect members with your website and community. It can come in many forms, from offering badges and achievements to providing perks for long-standing members.
Your goal should be to implement gamification in a way that rewards members for spending more time on your site and interacting with each other. These rewards can act as symbols of social status to other members, which further encourages them to stick around.
20. Let Members Pause their Subscriptions
Not all of your users will be able to renew their memberships every month. Enabling them to pause their subscriptions for a specific period of time gives them the chance to get their finances in order if needed.
There's also a psychological difference between pausing and canceling a membership. If users are forced to cancel, they're less likely to return. A pause, on the other hand, increases the chance that they'll resume paying later.
21. Offer an Affiliate Program
Affiliate programs give members the opportunity to make some money by referring new users to the site. An affiliate program that pays well is a great option for not only boosting membership signups, but also retention.
Users who participate in the affiliate program are less likely to cancel their memberships. If you share information about the highest payouts, you also introduce an element of competition. This encourages other members to participate.
22. Feature Member Stories
Depending on what type of website you run, you may want to feature member success stories. This is particularly useful for sites that offer online courses or learning communities.
Success stories can encourage other members to participate, and foster a sense of community. Moreover, you get to talk about how the website and its content helps members succeed.
23. Create a Roadmap for Future Updates
Aside from frequent updates, most members also want to see sites evolve. This means offering new features that make the user experience easier, providing better content, and making other changes that give members a reason to stay around.
A content roadmap can be as simple as hinting towards future updates, or letting users know what new features you're working on. The more detailed the roadmap is, the more effective it should be at getting users excited.
24. Make It Easy for Members to Find Content
The more updates you post on your membership website, the more difficult it becomes to find specific entries, which can be frustrating.
A lot of your members might sign up to get specific content, and if they can't find what they want, they may just leave. Clear navigation and a robust search feature can improve any website, but they become essential if you have a large library of content.
25. Offer Customizable Member Profiles
A lot of membership websites enable users to customize their profiles. That might include adding an avatar, a bio, contact information, and other types of data they want to share.
This personalization helps users feel like they're part of a community. The more customization options you give users, the more time they can spend working on their profiles, and the better their satisfaction should be.
26. Enable Users to Gift Memberships
Sometimes your users will want to pay membership dues for each other. Making it easy for users to gift subscriptions can be an effective way to increase both signups and retention.
After a user has had some time to experience what membership is like, the chance that they choose to stay around should be higher. That's particularly true if they have friends in the community.
27. Set Up Private Community Sections
The entire point of a membership site is for it to be private. However, you can take this a step further by setting up private forum sections or other channels for specific membership tiers.
This encourages members to form “cliques”. By providing spaces where they can discuss perks that other members don't have access to, you'll foster a sense of belonging.
28. Send Notifications to Users
Notifications can be a double-edged sword. Some users don't want to receive notifications from websites, or they want full control over the messages they get.
On the other hand, some users appreciate them, and notifications are one of the main ways you can make sure members don't miss out on updates and new content. With the right system, you can enable users to opt-in for notifications if they want them.
29. Offer Multiple Payment Options
A lot of membership sites offer multiple payment options. This makes it easier for members to decide what methods they prefer to use over time.
This can make accounting harder, but it's a boon for users. In some cases, members will want to switch from one payment option to another as their finances change. Making it easy to pay is an excellent way to facilitate retention.
30. Price Membership Plans Fairly
When it comes to membership plans, your goal shouldn't be to maximize profits over the short term. If you charge too much for memberships, users might sign up, but they'll be thinking about how soon they're going to cancel their plans.
Figuring out the right pricing balance depends on a lot of factors. Those include your site's niche, how valuable the content you offer is, how much competitors charge, and more. If you price plans in a vacuum, it will likely result in a lower member retention rate.
If you're going to go through the effort of setting up a membership website and growing its community, you need to factor in retention. Member retention is a problem for a lot of sites, because they focus more on getting new users and less on ensuring that existing users don't leave.
There are a lot of effective ways to encourage member retention. You can ask users what they want to see, encourage a community, and interact with them directly. Plus, MemberMouse can help you manage your growing community and keep an eye on member retention rates.
Do you have any questions about how to boost member retention? Let's talk about them in the comments section below!
Hi! I'm Amy. I'm obsessed with the three W's: Writing, WordPress, and Walking! When I'm not blogging about the WordPress ecosystem, you can find me hitting the trails of the Pacific Northwest with a cup of coffee and my camera.