As a membership site owner, finding ways to increase your customer retention rates is likely one of your top priorities. Understandably so, since the key to making the membership model work is recurring revenue.
If your customers don’t maintain an active subscription, your revenue from each customer soon dissipates, and growing a profitable membership site business becomes nearly impossible.
Unlike a single online course, where customers pay upfront to access a set curriculum, with a membership site they expect to receive access to new content and training on a regular basis. If you stop providing them with new content, there is no reason for them to continue paying you.
This is one of the biggest distinctions between a membership site and an online course. With a membership site, the initial sale is just the beginning of your relationship with your customer. As they continue to pay a subscription fee, you continue to provide them with new content and training. There is an ongoing mutual exchange of value.
By finding ways to keep your customers for longer, you increase the average lifetime value (LTV) of your customers - often to a greater value than the one-time purchase price of an online course. This is what makes membership sites an attractive business model for course creators, and why increasing your customer retention rates is so important.
As membership site expert Mike Morison says:
“It costs 7-10 times more on average to win a new member than it does to hold on to an existing one; and if you’re losing more members than you bring in then your business won’t last long!”
With that in mind, here are 10 strategies that some of today’s most successful membership site owners are using to increase customer retention and reduce churn in their membership sites:
1. Add a Welcome Video to your membership dashboard
Member onboarding is the process of integrating a new customer into your membership site effectively. The goal is to get them up and running and consuming your content as quickly and as smoothly as possible.
An effective way to improve your member onboarding process is to include a Welcome Video in your Member Dashboard (aka Member’s Area). In this video, take a few minutes to tell your members how to navigate your membership site, where to access your content/training, how to request support, engage with other members, etc.
2. Offer a welcome phone call to new members
If you ask for your student’s phone number at any point in your membership site sales or checkout process, give them a call (or have someone on your team do it) to welcome them to your membership site. Very few online course creators do this, so it is definitely a great way to “wow” your customers and build instant rapport with them.
3. Mail new members a welcome gift
Ask your customers for their mailing address, and then send them a handwritten thank you card, physical gift or branded swag. This simple gesture is a powerful way to make your customers feel welcomed and appreciated. They might even take a picture of the gift you send them and show it on social media, resulting in additional exposure for your business.
4. Include special perks for your members
If you recommend specific products or services to your customers, reach out to their vendors and see if they are willing to offer your customers an exclusive discount or perk of some kind. Knowing that they will lose access to special offers from other companies if they cancel their membership helps encourage them to maintain an active subscription to your membership site.
Foundr, for example, offers discounts on numerous software products to customers of Foundr Club, a membership site for entrepreneurs:
5. Offer different price tiers to reward longer membership periods
Creating different price tiers for your membership site is a great way to reward your customers for their loyalty by discounting their subscription price based on how long they commit to being a customer. Your customer gets a better price on your membership compared to paying month-to-month, and in exchange, you are guaranteed to keep that customer for a longer period of time. This is a win-win for both of you.
6. Customize your membership site design & branding
The design and layout of your membership site plays an important role in increasing student engagement and retention. Make sure your members can navigate to different pages and course content easily and with little friction.
The style and design of your membership site should also be consistent with your overall branding. Essentially, your membership site should look and feel just like your other digital real estate including your main website, sales pages, downloadable assets, and social media profiles etc.
“Don't create disjointed marketing; don't create imagery and branding that aren't consistent throughout the entire process - from prospect/lead to buyer to member.” - Kate Erickson (Podcasters Paradise)
7. Create a private Facebook Group for your members
For many membership site students, being a part of a community of like-minded individuals that are on a similar journey is more valuable to them than the content/training provided to them in the membership site.
Every successful membership site owner we spoke with recognizes this, and the majority of them have decided to create private Facebook Groups to build a community for their students. This allows students to interact with each other, ask each other questions, and support each other’s success.
8. Publish testimonials & member case studies
Publishing case studies about your customers is a great way to provide social proof to potential customers, as well as motivation for existing ones. When people see that other members are implementing what they’re learning from your training and experiencing positive results, it encourages them to do the same.
As often as possible, interview your customers. With their permission, publish those interviews inside of your membership site, on your blog, YouTube channel, podcast, etc.
Chandler Bolt (Self-Publishing School), for example, teaches people how to write and self-publish their first book. On his website, you’ll find written case studies of customers who have successfully self-published a book after taking his training:
9. Identify drop off points in your training & correct them
Monitor the completion rates of specific lessons in your membership site, and the drop-off points of specific videos. The most common reason for a student not completing a specific lesson or video is simply that it is too long. Short, “bite sized” training is more likely to be consumed and completed than longer training.
If you have a 20 minute training video inside of a lesson and you notice that the majority of students stop watching the video about 10 minutes in, consider splitting that video into 2 separate videos that are each 10 minutes long.
10. Create training for different learning styles
Every individual has their own unique learning style. Therefore, it is important to understand what the most common learning styles are, and to create different types of content/training to accommodate these different learning styles.
If you create exclusively video content for your members, for example, you are doing a disservice to all of your members that prefer written or audio training. The most successful membership site owners create a “balanced diet” of content types to help accommodate the different learning styles that their members have.
Tyler Basu is the Content Manager for Thinkific, the all-in-one platform for creating and selling online courses. When he’s not creating helpful content and resources for online course creators, you can find him writing articles and interviewing entrepreneurs for Lifestyle Business Magazine and other publications.