The Most Effective Tools for Reducing Your Membership Churn
Retention is king when it comes to membership sites.
After all, for recurring revenue to be impactful, it needs to actually recur!
We’ve talked several times on the blog and podcast before about ways to increase retention, and it’s definitely a topic that we could easily spend hours on!
And with around two-thirds of membership owners unsatisfied with their churn rate and wanting to improve it, then it's clear many of us need to up our game.
But it’s one thing to talk about improving retention and another thing to actually implement, so in this article we’re taking a look not at why retention is important, but at some tools you can use to reduce your membership churn.
Retention starts day one, minute one, with your onboarding process. Getting your members off to a good start with your membership is a sure fire way to keep them happy and coming back month after month.
Whilst your onboarding process could just make use of a good email sequence, there’s some other things that you could also do to increase your onboarding success.
You could provide your new members with an interactive tour of your site to make sure that they understand where everything is and how everything works.
Fancy Options – tools like User Guiding, Tour My App, WP Ultimate Tours Builder, Inline Manual and Walk Me all allow you to create step by step walkthroughs and guided tours of your site, navigating members around the site in real time via in app messages.
Budget Options – you can start off by simply creating a video tour of the site using the same tools you create your content with (such as Screenflow/Camtasia). It’s not as interactive, but it still helps people to get familiar with your site.
New Member Quizzes & Questionnaires
Something that often causes new members to stumble when they join your site, is knowing where to start, especially if your site has been up and running for a while and you have a sizeable collection of content!
Adding a quiz or questionnaire to your onboarding, which then points your member to the best content or first steps for them, can really help to personalise the member experience and ensure your members find useful info straight away.
Even if you already have a roadmap or pathways through your content, it can still be a great idea to create a new member questionnaire or quiz – as well as helping your member it provides great information for you on who your members are and what they’re looking to achieve.
Fancy Options – you could create a quiz using a tool like Thrive Quiz Builder or you could create more of a questionnaire using a form builder like Gravity Forms or Formidable Forms. TypeForm is a nice non WordPress based option too.
Budget Options – if you don’t want to purchase plugins for the deed, you can easily create a survey or questionnaire using TypeForm of even Google Forms. You could even use simple links to different pages for different goals or a downloadable PDF checklist if you prefer.
Creating a personal welcome video for each member who joins can really add an extra special touch that helps the new member to feel noticed and more comfortable jumping into areas like your community. It also helps to increase connection and engagement between you and the member.
These videos don’t need to take a long time to create and will typically be just 30-60 seconds long. (If you’re an Academy member, check out our experiment with welcome videos here)
Fancy Options – there are quite a few tools out there now designed specifically for sending personal videos, our favourites are BombBomb and Bonjoro which have some good personalization and integration features.
Budget Options – Loom, SoapBox and ViewedIt are also great tools for this kind of video and make it really easy to get started with sending personal videos, right from your browser or inbox.
On Site Messaging
Whilst your onboarding process should definitely include an email sequence (using your normal email marketing service is fine!) it can also be useful to have some on-site messages as well, for example providing an explanation the first time someone visits a certain page, or even an explainer video.
Most on-site messaging tools also allow you to track your members movements through the site, meaning you can nudge members who don’t log in or make progress.
Fancy Options – Intercom is probably the most well known here, but other good options include UserEngage, Drift and Customer.io.
Budget Options – Tawk.to is a free alternative and Drift does have a basic free option.
Your community will be your best way of engaging your members, but we talk about that elsewhere!
Other engagement options will depend to a large extent on the type of membership that you’re running. If you’re offering courses for example there may be more inbuilt options for engagement.
Giving members a way to see what they’ve completed and how far they’ve progressed through your content can really help to aid motivation and content consumption.
This is easier when you’re offering course based content, but there are options now that allow you to add progress checks to different types of content on your site as well.
You could even take this one step further and offer a certificate of completion at the end if your content type is suitable.
Fancy Options – LMS plugins like LearnDash and LifterLMS have progress tracking built in. WPComplete is another new option too.
Budget Options – WPComplete actually has a basic free version that you could try. You could also use a PDF checklist for members to keep track of the content consumed – this could be fillable online or printable.
If progress tracking isn’t appropriate for your site then you could also look at a plugin like Favorites, and allow people to favourite or save completed content. Or you could ask people to create progress logs in your community.
Many membership sites offer some kind of live element to the membership, whether this is a live Q&A, hot seat session, training or even a guest workshop.
This kind of live session is a great way to increase engagement and connection with your members, whilst also creating valuable content!
Fancy Options – Crowdcast and Zoom are the top contenders here, plus Vimeo Live. Demio is quickly catching up however. There are also long standing options like Go To Webinar, but I’d recommend the other three over this personally.
Budget Options – YouTube Live (previously Google Hangouts) is a free option that can be embedded directly on your website. You would want to combine this with a chat plugin like ChatWing or ChatRoll to allow interaction.
You can make sure members are actually taking action on your content by interspersing challenges and quizzes into your content. Workbooks and worksheets are also great for encouraging engagement with your content and action taking.
You could even go so far as to get members to submit homework assignments, although this obviously requires a little more time commitment from you too.
Fancy Options – H5P can be used to create a whole host of different types of interactive content, including interactive videos and drag and drop tasks.
Quizzes could be done with your LMS plugin, or an plugin like TryInteract or Thrive Quiz Builder. You could also use Gravity Forms and it’s quiz add-on.
Budget Options – whilst it’s a little less interactive, PDF workbooks (fillable online for ease) are still a mainstay of many membership sites (including our own!) and can be created easily using Word/Pages and then be made fillable with a free tool like PDFEscape.
There are also low cost plugins like WP User Notes which allow members to make notes on your content, and you can use form tools like TypeForm to allow for assessments and surveys.
Challenges can also be done without fancy tools via posts in your forum or emails.
Badges & Points
Gamification is a huge topic in itself (read more about it here) but you can use things like points and badges to incentivize and motivate your members as they move through your content, or simply interact with your community.
We all love to be rewarded and recognised!
Fancy Options – Gamipress is one of the best gamification options for WordPress these days with a robust free option but a lot of pro add-ons available for most things you could want to do! MyCRED is another main option and again it’s core is available free, but there’s a lot of add-ons you can use to really customise your member experience. BadgeOS is another popular option with a free core and paid add-ons.
The quiz and progress tracking tools mentioned previously can also be used to help gamify your site.
Budget Options – All the above plugins have free limited options to get you started with. You can also use your inbuilt community gamification options – most forum software offers options like ranks, reputation points and more.
General Retention Tools
As well as onboarding and engagement, retention is also down to just your general day to day interaction with your members, again, community plays a big part here but there’s other things you can do to really tip the balance in your favour and ensure your members are having the best experience.
Spotlight your members and celebrate your member wins! Not only does this reward the member being celebrated and gives them the warm fuzzies, but it inspires your other members too.
Fancy Options – you don’t really need any fancy tools for this to be honest, but you could highlight the member in various ways on your site if your tech allows it, and you can expand the spotlight beyond your membership to interviewing the member on your podcast or blog. You could even give them a reward or prize.
If you’re using any of the video options we talked about earlier, then sending a quick personal congratulations or thank you video can really add a special touch for the member.
Budget Options – plenty of options here! You could send an email, give the member a shoutout in your community or talk about member wins on a live call, to name a few. You can also share on social media if you have the members permission.
Not the most technical of terms I know, but sometimes your members need a nudge. Maybe they haven’t logged into the site in a while, maybe they haven’t made a lot of progress lately, or maybe they’ve never set foot in your community.
There are times when we just want to give our members a friendly nudge and reminder that we’re there, and that they’ll get the best results if they actually use their membership fully.
Fancy Options – you can use an on-site messaging app like Intercom or Drift for this – they usually allow you to send emails as well as onsite messages. With options like Intercom you can even set up ‘slipping away’ automations that highlight when a member has been inactive for a certain period of time and sends them an email to check in.
Facebook Messenger could also be used, using a service like Many Chat, but you would need members to opt-in to this service first. If your community is on Facebook though, Bots could be a good way of getting people from Facebook to your site.
You can also use the video tools we talked about under onboarding, and send a quick personal video checking in with the member and encouraging them to get in touch with you if they need anything.
Budget Options – email can easily be used for checking in with your members. When your site is small you may want to check in personally, but as your site grows it’s likely you're not going to notice every time a member goes awol for a bit so it’s great to have an ‘engagement’ automation in place that checks whether someone has been using your site.
You can also send a weekly or monthly roundup email to all your members with the latest news from the membership site.
It’s not sexy, but no discussion about retention would be complete without talking about customer support. Good customer service can make all the difference when a member is having issues, and no matter how good your membership site is, having things in place for this is essential.
The key? Making it easy for members to know how to get in touch with you! So if nothing else have a clear support link on your website please.
Fancy Options – as your team grows a help desk solution like ZenDesk or HelpScout can really help when it comes to handling emails, as well as being able to create a knowledgebase for self help with common issues.
On-site messaging apps like Intercom, or live chat solutions like Live Chat are also good options for allowing members to quickly and easily get in touch with you (but make sure you give an idea of response time so an immediate response isn’t always expected!).
You can also create forms based on conditional logic on your support page using tools like Gravity Forms, which enable you to show different options based on the members needs (for example providing different cancellation options based on the reason they’re cancelling).
Budget Options – in the early days of your membership site your customer support team is likely to be just you, so using a standard email address works fine (make sure the email address matches your membership site – no hotmail please!)
You can also easily create a simple page on your website with some FAQs and a contact form to get in touch with you. Contact Form 7 is a great free WordPress contact plugin for this.
Hopefully this article has given you a few ideas of different things you can implement on your membership site to help your member retention.
You may have noticed that there’s a lot of crossover, so onsite messaging apps like Intercom or Drift for example could be used for everything from onboarding to ongoing engagement and even customer support. That makes them a great choice as far as I’m concerned – I’m a fan of mutli-tasking tools!
How high tech your retention tools are though isn’t really important. What’s important is that you’re adding things that will improve your members experience, and it’s often easier to start simple and then make things more complex as your membership site grows and you get a better feel for what works for your members and their needs.
I’d love to hear any other tools you’ve used, or your experience with the options above – let me know in the free Membership Mastermind Facebook group.