But unfortunately they're unavoidable.
As membership site owners, our job is to deliver an experience that blows members away, delivers fantastic results and and delights them so much they won't want to leave…
And in some cases, we do…
That's why there are members who choose to stay with us throughout the entire life span of our memberships.
But no matter how great a member experience you provide, cancellations will happen.
They're an inevitable part of the membership life cycle.
Depressing I know…
And while there are a few things you can try to pre-empt and prevent cancellations, they won't work all of the time.
People will leave.
That's why every membership site owner should have in place a very useful tool at our disposal to make the best of the situation…
The membership exit survey.
A straightforward questionnaire that you ask members to complete before they submit their cancellation request.
So, how can you use this effectively for your membership?
Let’s find out…
How to craft the perfect exit survey
Your survey should be short and simple…
There's nothing more frustrating than trying to cancel a membership or subscription and feeling like obstacles are being put in your way…
Maybe there are too many hoops to jump through…
Or the cancellation process is so complicated that you start to suspect it's being made difficult to cancel so you'll give up and stay.
That's definitely something you want avoid for your members at all costs!
Your retention strategy needs to be more sophisticated than simply hiding the cancellation button behind a five-part, 200 question exit survey.
Your exit survey should be something people are happy to complete for you as they leave.
Essentially, to create an effective exit survey, you only need to ask three simple questions:
- Why are you leaving?
- Why did you join?
- Is there anything we can do to convince you stay?
Yes, they're very straight forward questions, but the information you gather from the answers you're given are an absolute goldmine in terms of helping your membership to evolve.
They can help you:
- Continually refine what you're offering
- Give you the opportunity to learn from members you're losing
- Inform your future marketing efforts, and…
- Give you the answer you need to potentially convince a member to stay.
So worst case scenario is that you may lose this member, but changes you make to your membership business as a result of the feedback you're given may help make other members stay.
You can never go wrong seeking feedback from your members.
So now you know the questions you should ask in your survey, let's explore why you should ask them…
1. Why are you leaving?
You need to get to the heart of why your member has made the decision to leave your membership.
Could it be due to broken marketing promises?
Or, perhaps you've not met an expectation they had, or they haven’t achieved what they wanted to?
Have they got as far as they can with your content but need more?
Whatever the reason, finding out why people have made the decision to leave is invaluable for your membership business.
The answers might help you re-think important elements of your membership, from your site’s navigation to how you communicate with your members about your content.
It may also give you some ideas for new content.
The one simple question, ‘why are you leaving?’ can provide you with a wealth of information to help improve your membership.
2. Why did you join?
Knowing why people joined your membership site is as important as knowing why they want to leave.
Finding out why people joined will help you to zero in on what part of your marketing messages are most effective.
It will also help you identify any patterns.
For example, your survey may reveal patterns of people consistently joining because they want to access one specific course.
You may also find that these are the members who tend to leave faster.
That knowledge can help influence how you market your membership and tailor what you offer.
It could also help you address any bugs or frustrations members may have.
This information can help you shape your content and approach so that the members who are still with you get a better experience and are less likely to leave.
3. Is there anything we can do to convince you to stay?
Asking this question could give you specific suggestions and ideas that you might not have thought of.
More importantly, it opens up a window of opportunity for you to be able to follow up and make a case for them to change their minds.
Simply asking this one question indicates that you're willing to discuss their cancellation and address their frustrations.
It also indicates that you're willing to make a change that may convince them to stay.
For example, a response may be that your membership’s Q&As are at the wrong time of day for their time zone.
You may not have realized that this was a problem and that it affects a large proportion of your membership.
You can now go back to that person and offer to change the timing of the Q&As and see if that will have an impact on their decision to cancel.
Just having that question in your membership exit survey opens up a dialogue for you to convince people to stick around.
That's not always the outcome, but the information that you get in that answer will be really useful to help you refine your strategy.
Your exit survey is not only useful for data gathering…
It gives you the opportunity to learn from members that you're losing…
To improve your membership experience…
And potentially turn a negative situation of a member leaving your site into a slightly more positive one which results in them staying…
Or leaving on good terms and recommending you to others.
Here are a few things you can do to achieve this:
Make a final plea to your member and give them a reason to stay
Once the member has completed the exit survey you can use conditional messaging that offers a potential solution to address the reason they're giving for cancelling their membership.
An advanced online form like Gravity Forms (a WordPress plugin for creating forms), is brilliant for this.
They enable you to send members to specific pages or display messages linked to their decision to leave.
For example, if their reason for canceling is because they don’t have time, the Gravity Form could direct them to a page that gives them some tips on how to get the most out of the membership when you're short on time…
Or you could direct them to a planning guide you've created or even a tutorial on time management.
Let’s look at another example.
If your member states they can’t afford the membership anymore, the Gravity Form could be configured to conditionally display a message saying…
‘We understand money can be tight, how about we give you the option to pause for three months instead of canceling?’
Giving people a conditional response is very powerful and likely to be very effective in convincing that member to stay!
If you don’t use WordPress you can instead create a series of pages written out with links that relate to the reason why they are leaving.
Whatever method you use, if you show people conditional messaging, you can make a relevant and very specific final plea to that member.
Offer your members a direct form of communication with you
If the member indicates that your membership didn’t meet their expectations, you could suggest they book a quick 15-minute call with you or a member of your team to discuss it further.
You could even offer direct messaging via Facebook.
Whatever the method, offering direct communication is another way you can find out what you can do to fulfil their needs.
Having the opportunity to make themselves heard directly or say something that they may not want to write down, gives you an opening to salvage the situation or simply listen to what they have to say.
Offer to pause, downgrade or upgrade their membership
That exit survey is your chance to give that member an alternative to leaving…
So if the member cites their reason for leaving as being related to money, offer them the chance to pause their membership…
Or if they say they're not utilizing your membership to its full potential, you can offer them the opportunity to downgrade to a lower tier.
They might even say they feel like they've gone as far as they can in your membership. If that's the case, you can offer them an upgrade to the next tier.
In one simple membership exit survey, you can directly address the reasons why they want to leave and get to the heart of the issue.
Don’t make leaving difficult
You might be limited in terms of what membership tech you have.
If that's the case, I'd recommend investing in the custom development of your exit survey if that's what you need to do to put it in place.
Trust me, it will be worth it.
All you need is three simple questions followed by a one-page final plea.
If someone wants to skip past it and leave, fair enough, but at least you haven’t put a huge obstacle in their way…
For every person who does that, there may also be members who aren't determined to leave your membership and don't skip past the page.
This could turn the situation around and make them stay.
Use your exit survey data to tailor your follow-up campaigns
Another key thing to remember is that people who leave your membership quite often come back…
That's why we don't want to sour the experience and make the cancellation process complicated.
At Membership Academy, over 25% of members who leave us return within 6-12 months.
That exit survey data we gather is so useful, because it allows us to craft our win-back campaigns.
If you know why someone left, then you can use that to tailor follow-up campaigns, your win-back emails, and any messages you send to ex-members, to try and convince them to come back.
For example, if someone said they left because they had no time, you don’t want to follow-up with a message promoting 15 new courses as that’s not going to convince them to come back…
But you could emphasize the fantastic new tool that acts as a roadmap through your content.
That will save them a lot of time!
That targeted message directly addresses the reason they left and could be all it takes to bring them back.
Having an exit survey can provide you with a targeted and successful win-back campaign
Now it's time to put your exit survey in place
Hopefully, I’ve made the case for your membership exit survey…
Why it's so important to not only have it in place as part of your member retention strategy, but also to use it well.
That means enhancing the process with those conditional final pleas, offering alternatives like pausing their membership and suggesting content to alleviate any concerns that's making them want to cancel in the first place.
Taking actions like this based on your exit survey responses, takes your retention strategy to the next level…
Potentially turning a negative situation of a member cancelling into a positive one with them staying.
Worst-case scenario, it gives you the information you need to help you improve elements of your membership business and form the basis of your win-back campaigns.
This doesn't sound like such a bad thing, does it?
So, what are you waiting for?
Make that exit survey part of your membership site arsenal today.