The number one question I hear from membership sites that are already bringing in members and revenue is: “How do I keep my members coming back, month after month, and year after year.” In this guide, I share the top four strategies for improving member retention. With very little effort, anyone who manages a subscription or member-supported online business can launch these strategies and start tackling churn.

Strategies to Improve Member Retention Guide

Don’t force a recurring business model, just because you like the idea of recurring income.

Do you even need to offer a recurring subscription? Maybe you don’t. Maybe your content doesn’t fit with a recurring subscription model.

There are plenty of businesses selling one-time products that make money month, after month, after month. One of my rules of thumb is this, the timing of your membership pricing should match the timing of the value that you deliver. If you have a course that is changing lives in one month, get paid for that upfront. Consider charging a higher one-time price. Instead of charging $50 per month charge $150 one time. Front-loading your pricing like this can even reduce churn for recurring subscriptions.

Match the timing of your membership pricing to the timing of the value you deliver.

What does that mean? First, make sure that you’re delivering value for your members every single month or for annual memberships every single year. Second, even if you’re delivering value every month, you’ll often find that customers still get most of the value in month one.

If your impact is front-loaded, you should consider front-loading your pricing, too. Put simply, charge more upfront with a lower recurring amount. Here’s a quick example. Say you’re charging $50 per month for your membership, but you find customers canceling after two to three months. Consider instead charging $150 upfront and $20 per month after that. The $150 will match the lifetime value you were getting before. And while raising prices means fewer sales, you’ll often make more money overall. Experiment to find the specific numbers that work for you. The key to this tactic is for the recurring amount to be less than the initial payment.

When the value members receive is more in line with the price they are paying, they are more likely to renew.

Make sure that you’re handling failed payments well.

Email every single member who expires because of a failed payment. Email them multiple times until they sign back up. Spread the later emails out, but don’t stop until they ask you to stop. If you have their phone number, call them. There are SaaS products that will do this for you. Or you could set up an automated email series yourself.

At a certain scale, it makes sense to hire someone part-time, maybe on commission, just to manage failed payments for you. 

Get personal with your members.

Share more about your own journey. In many membership businesses, people are really just patronizing the personality behind the product. So get personal. If your story connects with someone and changes their life, well, then you might just have yourself a customer for life. You must deliver real useful value for your membership. But if you’re too robotic or formulaic in your offerings, people will stop paying once they’ve gotten what they need. Sharing more about yourself and your mission will keep people subscribed.

I recorded each of these strategies for busting churn and improving member retention in a three part video series you can watch now on YouTube.


Jason Coleman

Author: Jason Coleman

Jason is co-founder of Paid Memberships Pro, the 100% open source membership plugin for WordPress. He has been pushing WordPress to its limits for many years and is an advocate for using WordPress as an application framework to build web sites and apps that go above and beyond the typical blog of CMS site.

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