Laura Button, Marketing Account Manager
Digital membership renewal makes life easier for associations and members
Membership renewal looms over every club or association on an annual basis. Talk to any membership leader and they’ll tell you they are always looking for new ideas to make the renewal process easier – whether it’s to ease the admin and time burden on staff, preventing a huge fall out rate, and even maximising the renewal period to encourage new uptake. Even national organisations will admit that they could always improve on their current system.
We’ve pulled together some tips and tactics based on our recent work with Welsh Gymnastics to help you consider the digital route when it comes to streamlining your membership renewal process.
Timing is everything
Having worked with Welsh Gymnastics to move their membership renewal online in Autumn 2017, certain factors led us them to make the decision. Members had been asking for an online option when it came to renewal, and as the online membership payment process was ultimately controlled by the UK Governing Body, British Gymnastics, timing was everything – so we didn’t miss the renewal window.
Research has shown that most small membership organisations typically begin their renewal process only one or two months prior to the renewal date, but understandably this window isn’t big enough to optimise the opportunity. Take a look back through your renewal data and note when the optimum window for renewal was. If most members renewed after you sent them the first reminder, then it’s working! If you find that members are taking longer to renew, then it would be a good idea to start your membership renewal process earlier to give them plenty of warning that renewal is on its way.
It pays to offer online payment
It was no coincidence that Welsh Gymnastics website witnessed a 200% increase in users to the website in their first online membership renewal month. The dedicated membership landing page was the most visited page during the membership renewal month, overtaking the home page and proving that users were coming into the website through the dedicated membership renewal URL link. If you can click through, pay for your membership renewal through the website, and be done in under three minutes – the benefits to the organisation will be far greater than if the membership renewal process is lengthy and complicated.
Email for ease
Why not review how you send your renewal notices? If you offer online renewal and payment processing, it would seem to make sense that your initial renewal reminder would be via email – with a link to and clear instructions on the online renewal process, as well as a reminder of why your member should renew. If you are still using a paper system, why not consider using an email platform where you can see exactly who has read the notice and make more time to follow-up those who have notably not engaged with it. Email renewal notices also offer you the ability to set-up and automate your renewals and follow ups, where you can vary your messaging and add attention grabbing heads, images, links to forms and clear call to actions.
If you aren’t sure how your members would like to receive their renewal, consider using a Facebook Poll to ask them. It goes without saying that if you know your members’ communication preferences, then you continue to use these methods, but keeping an eye on the effectiveness of each communication will help in your future planning. Measure the results of each method of communication and adopt those most effective.
The importance of up-to-date data
An often overlooked element of the renewals process is data quality. Before any renewal notices are sent, you should be sure that your membership database is up-to-date. If you have an online customer account login then your audience should be able to update their details online with ease. If not, you may have to cleanse your database using database cleansing software or undertake a manual data checking exercise via direct mail or phone calls.
Don’t forget to say thank you
It goes without saying that the renewal process is not complete until you have thanked your members for your renewal payment. If you use email, then this process is easily automated. As this is another opportunity to reinforce your messaging, so don’t forget to mention your latest achievements and upcoming events to reinforce the value of their membership and prompt then to engage in future activities.
Spindogs has 34 digital experts working from its head office in Cardiff plus 13 people working remotely across the Midlands and South East, and have worked on a range of projects in the membership, education, automotive and private sectors.