It's not me, it's you: key indicators that your members are leaving you
One of the obvious and most critical objectives of any association is to retain membership. Retention is a key performance indicator that impacts brand reputation, member satisfaction, and conclusively—financial statements.
The issue, however, is that generational and cultural landscapes are constantly evolving—yielding new consumer-buying behaviors, content-consumption preferences, and desired communication channels.
As market demand is rewired, businesses are all seeing a natural need for remodeling, restructuring, and/or rebranding so that they're lock in step with audience expectations and needs.
Associations, and certainly memberships, are no different. Naturally, member-based organizations have to be extraordinarily proactive when it comes to identifying and dissuading member exits.
|The Value Prop that Most Associations Offer on Some Level||What Social Media and Search Engines offer to Next Gen|
|Events||Virtual Groups and Meet Ups|
|Credentialing||For-profit Online Learning|
|Education||For-profit Online Education|
|Research/Publications||Research (driven by SEO)|
|Advocacy||Advocacy (driven by groups and algorithms)|
Before feathers get ruffled, yes, the value prop offered by associations and non-profits far outweighs the static that comes across most social media channels and search engines. Not to mention, it's practitioner-driven, vetted and, often, certified content.
I know this. HighRoad knows this. Your loyal members know this. But do younger generations know this? Even more so, do they care?
That's what most associations and non-profits should be thinking about right now. Because knowing this is the first move toward a solution.
That's, of course, just one example but the sentiment is there—if you're thinking about your audiences through an empathetic lens, you'll naturally be able to uncover the "tells" that your members are en route to lapse.
With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the key indicators that your members are unhappy with their current experiences:
Similarly, if your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is increasing beyond your MLV, there's a strong indication that your programming is still valuable to your constituents but the umbrella that is "membership" is becoming less and less relevant.
In other words, your audiences may still want to purchase from you but not make a full commitment to your mission and goals in the long term.
Most behavioral disengagement can be tracked across your digital interactions. Declining clicks, conversion rates, page views, social hits, form fills, chats, etc. are quantitative proof of a disconnect between content topics, content format, and/or delivery preferences.
This often can be managed by simply tweaking your marketing efforts so that they're content-rich and in line with your personas. The caveat is that your program content needs to map to what you're selling.
Most modernized digital marketing platforms will offer the ability to either lead or engagement score your members and prospects based on their digital interactions with your organization.
This functionality is an evergreen way for you to not only identify your most and least engaged but gives you aggregate insights into scores overtime (year-to-year comparisons). This helps you track the cyclical ebbs and flows and provides solid predictive benchmarks.
For instance, if for the last 5 years, average member lead scores spiked during your certification window, but in year 2022, those numbers stayed flat, it could be an indicator that a competitor is encroaching in your CE space.
- You're hitting them up too much via email.
- Your emails are too promo-heavy and not education and content-forward.
- They're just not interested in your programming.
Similarly, if you're seeing that your members are selecting mostly digital subscription preferences and opting out of more traditional content formats like events, that right there could indicate that your pillar programming just isn't cutting it with your constituents anymore.
Lack of diversity in content consumption isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just means that you need to take a hard look at what may need to change with your membership model.
You can track this by your Lead-to-Conversion Rate (LCR), expressed by the number of leads (prospects) you surface by the number of users who actually convert to membership.
From a growth perspective, a decline in pipeline “win” percentages is a strong alarm for org stagnation.
About Aimee Pagano
Aimee joins HighRoad Solution with 15+ years of integrated marketing and communications experience, primarily in client-facing roles within the association and SaaS space. Her specialties include persona development, content strategy/management, lead gen and awareness campaign development, and website development/optimization.