Unintentional Cancelations: The Easiest Way to Increase Retention

February 16, 2022
Thomas Altman

Let me tell you about one of the most surprising findings I made last year. One of the most common reasons people drop their memberships is because they . . . just kind of forgot to renew.

That's it. They're happy with the Association. They're getting value and want to renew. They just never got around to actually doing it.

I heard it over and over again when I asked membership professionals why people cancel. While every Association has unique value propositions and reasons people cancel, one of the most commonly shared reasons, regardless of industry, was that the member just simply never got around to it.

Maybe it was one of those things that could wait till later. Maybe they were going to and work got busy, or life got in the way. There are any number of reasons a member might want to renew, but not get to it.

But when it happens it causes major headaches. Now you've got to chase them to see if you can get them back. You probably have an outreach campaign for lapsed members to try to get them back in the fold. You probably also have a 60-30-15-1 day renewal campaign that includes a grace period just for that purpose.

One of the easiest ways to avoid that headache is to get ahead of the curve. I did a little bit of a deep dive with one association when they mentioned this problem. This organization had about an 80% renewal rate overall.

But when I looked at their data to pull out at only members that had renewed late the year before, the renewal rate in that subgroup was only about 60%.

Members that had renewed late 2 years in a row had about a 40% renewal rate. Putting that another way, if a member renewed late 2 years in a row they were half as likely to renew the next year.

The good news is that these are people you don't need to convince to renew. They're typically already sold on the value of being of member. And it's pretty simple to identify everyone that renewed late the previous year.

So why wait until they forget again this year to contact them?

The quickest, simplest win you can have to increase retention is to find everyone who renewed late last year and create a targeted outreach program for them in advance of their renewal period.

If you want to increase retention (and you should), segment people who renewed late into their own outreach campaigns and follow up in advance of the renewal date. This segmentation will deliver much more efficient results than segmenting by most other factors like member type, age, or geographic location.

Hope you find this helpful. I've got a few more posts lined out that will outline other ways to identify people at risk of canceling, so stay tuned!

Thomas Altman

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