Member retention: strategies for inspiring loyalty in your members

Membership businesses are built on the model of recurring revenue – and that requires members to stick around.

Creating meaningful memberships is the foundation of everything when it comes to providing the special value that makes members want to keep paying for your membership site on a monthly (or yearly) basis. You can have a snazzy website with affordable membership prices – and still fall short if you’re not giving your members real-world benefits.

But, aside from this core principle, what are some ways you can get your members to stay with you for the long-haul? In this post, we discuss some strategies for inspiring loyalty in your members.

What is member retention all about?

We’ve talked about member churn and how it can actually be much more cost-effective to retain members in comparison to acquiring new ones. But, the art of inspiring member loyalty goes beyond cheap tricks! It’s all about value over the long-term.

It’s not that you want your members to rely on you per se; after all, you want them to succeed, not necessarily be stuck to you for life! The truth is, member retention is actually about establishing a healthy long-term member value for your specific product – one that sustains your business and provides the real-world benefits that your target audience is looking for.

Create member pathways

In the interest of facilitating the best experience for your members and helping them achieve their goals, consider creating member pathways that guide them through your membership content. This can inspire loyalty by establishing you as the go-to source for whatever it is they are pursuing.

It also allows you to customize your content for specific member segments, which you can use to your advantage in your email marketing, affiliate marketing, and other promotional efforts – not to mention that member pathways can inspire all kinds of new content that you might not have produced otherwise!

You might even decide to use gamification to drive members to complete milestones along different member pathways. Gamification can boost member engagement, and many membership sites have game-like elements woven into the user experience.

Offer membership tiers at different price points

There are several reasons why using membership tiers can increase member retention – one of which being that there are simply different types of members. Maybe you have professionals that use your site alongside hobbyists or beginners, or you have a certain members that doesn’t necessarily need everything your membership has to offer, but they want to have access to a few basic features.

Membership tiers allow these different types of members to get what they need from your membership, making it more likely that they will remain loyal customers over time.

Another reason why membership tiers are effective for member retention is that different price points speak to different budgets. There may be people who would love to become (and remain) members, but the price is outside of their budgets. Or, you might be missing out on the opportunity to nudge your most active members toward a higher-priced and higher-value tier that would really suit them – and make them extra happy over the long run!

Make members a part of your community

Building a community around your membership site is one of the best ways to increase engagement, but it also promotes member loyalty. Simply put, community adds additional value to your membership offering by giving members a social aspect to enjoy, more channels and resources for understanding and using your membership content, and a reason to keep coming back.

Provide direct support and mentorship

Building on the authority you have as a membership site owner, any one-to-one interaction you can provide is a huge plus in the eyes of your members. Not only do they get your valuable content; they also get access to your expertise, insights, and feedback on top of it. The extra support and personal touch can inspire them to stay – especially if they are particularly committed to your niche.

This can include things like taking the time to handle some member questions and support requests yourself, even if you have a support team. Or, providing one-to-one coaching, exclusive webinars, and live Q&A sessions. Whatever you can do to have face time with your members will help to build a human connection, make the whole experience a lot more personal, and promote member retention.

Show members what they’d miss if they left

You want your members to be aware of what they could lose out on if they decide to leave. This is not about manipulating them; on the contrary, it’s about communicating the true value of your memberships – and making sure members are fully informed about what they have access to.

Take the opportunity to remind members of the benefits they are receiving, either by highlighting them in your newsletters, mentioning them in your blog content, podcasts, or videos, or playing off of them with contests and giveaways. You might even decide to offer upsells, extras, or special events that complement the benefits of your memberships, such as exclusive group masterclasses with special resources like workbooks or other downloads that are designed for specific member segments.

Above all, giving your members significant value that shows up in the form of real-world benefits is the most effective thing you can do to inspire their loyalty – and that should be your top priority. However, creating member pathways, expanding your pricing options, nurturing your member community, and interacting directly with your members are all strategies that can help to create an environment conducive to member retention.

In combination, all of these things are powerful ways to keep your members wanting to come back for more.

What strategies have you used to boost member retention on your own site? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Mandy Jones

About the author: Mandy is a content writer at Sandhills Development, singer/songwriter/musician, and founder of Looplicious. Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, she's a frequent traveler and animal lover with a passion for creativity and maker culture.