Membership Geeks

Try These Tactics to Pre-empt and Prevent Member Cancellations

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Cancellations are every membership site owner’s least favorite part of the member lifecycle

But the truth is they're unavoidable…

We all experience them…

And while we may not have 100% control over a member's decision to stay or leave, we’re not completely helpless in the matter…

There are a handful of tactics you can implement in an attempt to pre-empt and (hopefully) prevent member cancellations…

Now I know what you're thinking… 

Will doing these things keep your members signed up indefinitely?

No probably not…

But a mere 1% improvement in member churn could have a significant financial impact on your business…

And that's a positive for anyone…  

So let's delve into those tactics and explain how they can help you retain some members…

Set up a cancellation survey

It’s easy and natural to speculate on why your members are ending their subscriptions…

But the only way to arm yourself with cold, hard facts is to implement a cancellation survey. 

For the most part, a cancellation is something a person has to take conscious steps to do…

Especially if they’re on an active recurring subscription…

But if your membership topic has a natural ‘end date'say 12 months – then the action to cancel is passive…

And it's up to you to seek out feedback from individuals to understand their motivations for leaving…

And ultimately address them…

Because you can’t take remedial action to prevent future cancellations unless you know where the problem lies.

Plugins like Paid Memberships Pro will help you with this, allowing you to implement a survey as part of the self service cancellation process…

So you can find out why they're leaving before they’re completely out the door…

But remember, the briefer the survey, the better! 

Try not to drag out the cancellation process, as it’ll only end up frustrating the person taking part.

Address the issue of failed payments

It’s worth knowing that not every member decides to cancel their membership…

Some leave because their payments have failed…

While most membership plugins will retry a failed payment multiple times before cancelling a subscription, you can’t bank on that 100%.

The solution: a dunning process.

So, rather than leaving all the work to the plugin, you can implement a dunning process whereby members are alerted via email to the fact that their payment is cancelled.

This keeps them in the loop in case they need to put some money into their bank account or update their payment information.

Bottom line, this is going to help you save a lot of lost subscriptions as well as unintentional cancellations.

Some membership plugins such as MemberPress will handle this for you…

If your plugin doesn't offer this, then there are some solutions like Churn Buster that will.

Keep an eye on member engagement

Basically, it’s a good idea to set up a system that reaches out to inactive members…

Those people who you'd previously categorize as power users under the 90/9/1/ Rule but haven't been participating in your community for a while… 

This could come in the form of anything from an email to an in-app message.

Luckily, we live in a time where there are a lot of solutions and applications to help you monitor member engagement… 

Pick one, then set up an automation process to do all the heavy lifting for you…

As practical and effective as automated messages are, it’s important not to rely solely on them…

You can personally reach out  to inactive members yourself as well…

Of course, that personal touch is much harder to scale if your membership reaches well into the thousands…

But if someone who used to be a regular fixture of your membership has suddenly vanished, just knowing that you’ve noticed and personally reached out could tip the scales in your favor and prevent them from cancelling.

Give people small wins early in their experience 

If you implement a cancellation survey, you'll probably find one of the main reasons listed for leaving is time…

People say they don't have time for your membership… 

This is fairly common…

And can mean a variety of things…

Firstly, they simply don't have time to sit at a computer and login to your site…

They do have the time, but don't consider your membership a priority…

Or it could be that your members think – rightly or wrongly – that your site requires a massive amount of time to actually get any value from it.

If someone genuinely doesn't have the time, there's very little you can do about it… 

But for people who have the time and possibly feel a little overwhelmed with the sheer amount of content on your site…

You can give them some small wins early on in their experience…

Maybe by solving a specific problem in a very small amount of time…

This could be via something like a 15 minute video tutorial or a 5 day challenge…

Then those members will reconsider cancelling because you're adding value from the outset…

And they're seeing tangible results.

Teach people how to get the best from your membership

Sometimes you need to teach people how to be taught…

Especially if they face big time constraints… 

So if you've got an e-learning membership, show people what the best route is to get them positive results…

This approach helps people get on their feet quicker and eliminates the ‘finding your feet‘ process where they're trying to figure out where to get started with your site.

Teach people how to get the most value from your membership…

You could do this in a new member course or a tutorial…

Or create a Roadmap like we've got in Membership Academy.

This will reduce the chance of people leaving due to overwhelm and lack of time.

Signpost the future value of your membership

There’s something about anticipation…

It piques the curiosity long enough for people to hang around for a while…

And that’s something you could use to your advantage by signposting the future value of your membership.

In this case, the person planning to leave suddenly has something more to consider…

Sure, at the back of their mind, they know that you have something in the pipeline…

But spelling it out makes it more tangible…

And ultimately alters their decision-making process…

So let them in on things like upcoming courses or new features you’re adding into your site…

Even knowing which guests are appearing on your podcast or blog over the next few months could potentially hold a person’s interest long enough to change their mind about leaving…

Because you're generating FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)…

Members who decide to leave feeling the FOMO…

And this feeling of not wanting to miss out on upcoming content can really make a difference when a member is considering whether or not to leave your site.

Close the doors to your membership

Though it’s not our first choice…

There are situations where the closed-door membership model makes sense… 

And keeping cancellation figures low is one of them…

It creates a little bit more pain of disconnect…

Because the whole point of closed memberships is that access is limited.

So, if someone decides to cancel their membership, they're not going to be able to join again until your next enrolment window opens…

This raises the stakes for anyone who’s considering canceling by giving them a bit more to mull over…

But, it’s worth knowing that this approach is double-edged…

While it does make members think twice before leaving, it raises the question of whether they genuinely want to be there…

Are they interested in what you have to offer, or are they scared to leave because signing back up isn’t guaranteed? 

After all, you don’t want a membership retention strategy that relies on fear tactics.

Raise the price of your membership 

I'm not advocating that you increase the price of your membership every six months…

But raising them fairly regularly can help retention.

Generally, when you increase the price of your membership, it only applies to new members…

Your existing members are locked in at a lower rate for the duration of time they remain part of your community…

So if they leave and re-join at a later date, they'll have to pay the increased price…

And this makes discourages them from leaving…

Because at the back of their minds, they’ll always have to consider if they’re ready to give up the advantage of being charged a lower rate.

While this is a good for retention, you need to keep in mind that this option once again capitalizes on fear.

Special member-only monthly bonuses

Something else you could try is offering special monthly bonuses to your members…

So every single month you have something extra special that only gets given to members who were subscribed during that month…

You still release your regular evergreen content…

But maybe you have a bonus download or a resource that you send to members in your community.

This is something that really provides a benefit for people who keep their subscription active…

And is a great way to keep your members engaged and motivated to stick around.  

Send reminder emails

Reminder emails come in handy in more ways than one…

On the surface, they do exactly what’s implied…

They remind members that it’s time to gear up for that next payment.

In cases where your membership has a recurring annual subscription, or there’s an upcoming expiry date on a member's subscription, this is particularly useful.

A year or even six months is a long time between subscription payments, so it's easy to forget… 

In other words, never bank on a member’s ability to remember…

If it’s a recurring payment, it’s common courtesy to let them know exactly when their card will be charged.

And if it’s not, you could potentially lose them for good because the more time passes after a member’s subscription has expired, the less chance there is that they’ll renew it…

But that’s not the only factor at play here…

What if they no longer see the value of your membership?

A reminder email is a perfect way to let them in on what you have planned for them moving forward…

Keep them interested, keep them signed up.

Let's face it…

There’s no foolproof way to keep 100% of your members on board…

Cancellations are going to happen…

It's par for the course of life as a membership owner…

But implementing one or more of the tactics listed above will help you reduce your churn rate….

And keep some of your members happy to stick around long-term. 

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