Membership Geeks

How to Deal With Member Cancellations

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Like it or not, cancellations are par for the course when it comes to running a membership…

And as much as we'd like to think that our members will stick around forever…

Because why wouldn't they?!

That's rarely the case.

Cancellations are a natural part of the member lifecycle

And something that even the most successful membership owners can't avoid.

While you can't prevent cancellations from happening, you can take steps to determine why people are leaving…

So you can put measures in place to make sure you manage the situation in a way that won't burn any bridges…

Leaves the door open for those members to return should they want to…

And ensure you're not losing members for the wrong reasons!

So why do members cancel their subscriptions? 

Well, in truth they do it for a variety of reasons…

Let's find out what they are…

1. Members have consumed all your content

If your membership is based around one or two epic courses, once members complete that content, what is there to stick around for? 

You can combat this by creating extra content…

Things like regular live training, member feedback sessions…

Or even adding an online forum to your site.

These are all things that will give your members a reason to stay.

Your members after they finish your content…

So, if members are leaving because they’ve blasted through all your content, then the easy thing to do is give them more...

Keep feeding the beast if you want them to continue paying a monthly fee.

2. Members run into technical difficulties 

In some cases, the problem lies with technical difficulties…

Maybe some members struggle to use your website or navigate your dashboard.

Sometimes people get frustrated if the site doesn’t load fast enough or looks weird on mobile…

And they just cancel. 

A lot of the time members won’t even tell you about it…

They won’t always ask for help…

So, it's up to you to put measures in place to make sure this doesn't happen.

The first thing to do is make it easy for members to get in touch with you if they have a problem…

Your support contact details should easy to find and you should direct your members to them in the onboarding sequence.

You might want to take steps to help people navigate your website and resources as well…

A welcome tour video can be useful to show new members around and tell them how everything works. 

The onboarding process is crucial for helping them overcome any niggles they wouldn't be able to get a handle on if left to their own devices. 

So, make sure you have a solid onboarding process with resources at the ready to help them get settled in. 

3. They can’t afford your membership anymore 

This is a big reason for people leaving… 

It could be that when they joined your membership, their financial circumstances were different…

Or maybe they don’t feel like they’re getting the return on investment they’d like for what they're paying.  

That’s not to say you need to immediately drop your prices… 

But it’s definitely worth considering what you can do to increase the affordability of your membership. 

One thing you can do is offer a monthly and annual payment option if you don’t already…

You could also create tiered memberships with lower-cost plans which only have access to certain resources.

You could even offer this as an automatic down-sell when someone tries to cancel your membership with the help of a handy plugin. 

If someone’s going through a temporary tight spot, you could also give them the option to pause their membership rather than cancel…

This could be the difference between them staying and leaving.  

4. Payment failures 

Payment failures are another reason why people drop out…

If you charge annually, there’s a good chance the credit card they used will expire by the time they come to renew, or their PayPal information will be out of date.

This could cause a recurring payment to fail…

While it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll cancel, they might decide to “sort it out later” and just forget.

A way around this is to remind people when their membership is up for renewal so they can check their payment information is up to date if they want to renew. 

You to your members who need to update their card details…

5. Your members have achieved what they wanted

This is actually a positive reason for cancellations…

If a member has achieved what they set out too, then there may be no real reason to remain a member. 

All this means is you did a great job in helping them achieve their goal. 

But if your membership site offers nothing for those people who hit that goal, you’re relying on habit, nostalgia or goodwill to keep them around…

And that's not enough for people to justify paying a subscription for something that they don’t use anymore. 

To keep members on board, you need to offer them something else…

So have a think of what that could be and how you can help them on the next leg of their journey.

The good thing is, they already know and trust you, so if you’ve got something good to offer them then they may well stick around for a long time.

What NOT to do when someone cancels

Now we’ve looked at the top reasons people cancel, and what you can do about it…

Let's look at what you absolutely shouldn’t do…

One thing you should definitely not do is kick up a fuss, throw your toys out of the pram, or lose your temper.

I'm sure you’ve probably tried to cancel a subscription at some point in your life, only to find that it’s way more difficult than it needs to be…

Remember how annoying that is?

That's a HUGE faux pas when it comes to membership sites…

Because ultimately people aren't always cancelling because they hate you or your membership…

It’s almost certainly nothing personal, and there are plenty of legitimate reasons why people make the decision to leave.

If you make them jump through hoops, you could turn what is a positive reason for leaving into a negative one…

In other words, you'll burn bridges with them.

So don’t enforce lengthy cancellation periods, don’t ban them from your content with immediate effect…

And above all, don’t be rude to them.

Cancellation should be as painless as possible for everyone…

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't give them the opportunity to change their mind…

You can do plenty of things to encourage people to stay on board that won’t make their lives difficult…

Simply let them know they'll be missed…

Offer them different payment options or the chance to pause their membership…

Tell your members you'll miss them!

But if they’re dead set on leaving, just let them.

One thing you absolutely must do is find out why they're leaving by conducting a membership exit survey…

The information you can get from that is pure gold in helping you refine your member experience…

And will help you attempt to pre-empt and prevent any future cancellations.

Not all cancellations are permanent

The number one reason you want people to exit in a positive way is that some cancellations are temporary…

Plenty of people return to memberships months or even years after they've left… 

At Membership Academy around 25% of members who cancel return within a year…

But this won’t happen if you’ve upset them. 

This is why it's important to let people leave on good terms and send a follow-up email a few weeks later to see if they’re interested in re-joining…

Maybe you could offer a special discount or let them know about some new content you think they’d be interested in…  

You can even set up automatic emails through most modern email marketing platforms.

This is something we cover in the Membership Academy if you want more information.

People leave memberships a variety of reasons…

It's up to us as membership owners to ensure that whatever that reason is for members leaving, it's not held against them…

Because making the exit experience painful will most likely result in those members not only never returning…

But also never recommending your site to anyone else…

Or even worse, relaying their negative experience to people they know who would be a right fit for your membership.

So if there's one point I'd like you to takeaway from this blog, it's this…

Don't take cancellations personally and make sure you handle the process as positively and professionally as possible. 

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