Membership sites can be a great way to create a reliable, continuous income stream. Getting your customers to pay for repeated subscriptions to continue accessing your services and community is a natural model for long-term revenue. However, there is one important challenge to overcome: member retention.
Member retention is your membership site’s ability to ensure that your customers keep subscribing to your site – in other words, how well you can avoid losing customers. As such, it’s a vital factor in your membership site’s continued success. So, how can you increase member retention rates on your membership site?
Why Is Member Retention Important?
The most basic reason that member retention is important for membership sites is that if you can’t get your customers to keep paying for a subscription, you won’t make any profit. Aside from this, however, high member retention rates offer several other benefits.
One of these is that member retention is far more cost-effective than member acquisition. Getting people to sign up for your site and pay a subscription in the first place takes a lot of effort and means investing heavily in marketing channels.
However, once you’ve successfully acquired a member, measures to keep them subscribing to your site are usually much cheaper and less effort-intensive. As such, it pays to invest in member retention measures to avoid having to spend as much on member acquisition to replace the members you lose.
Member retention can also help acquire members in the first place. People are more likely to sign up for your membership site if they see that it already has a high number of users and a thriving community. Strong member retention, therefore, helps to maintain a large user base that can help to attract even more users.
On the other hand, poor member retention rates can actively hurt your member acquisition rates. If potential customers research your site and see that members tend to leave quickly, then they’re more likely to think that your site isn’t worth signing up for.
Poor member retention can also lead to a snowball effect. If your membership site relies heavily on community features, then it needs an active community to make these features worthwhile. Losing too many members will hinder the community aspect of your site, lowering its value to remaining members and making it more likely that they will leave as well.
Challenges In Member Retention
Many common factors can lead to challenges in member retention. One of the biggest is member engagement. It’s vital to keep your members feeling engaged with your site in the long term, which usually means providing a steady stream of new content for them to engage with.
This content can take a lot of effort to create, and the longer you keep your site running, the more content you’ll need to create to keep members engaged. Failing to do so can lead to members seeing less value in continuing their subscription, making them more likely to leave.
Another challenge is maintaining healthy relationships with your members. Membership sites often rely on a sense of community and plenty of interaction between you and your members.
Maintaining this communication can be difficult, especially as your site grows and you take on more members – an increased user base can mean fewer opportunities to create personal relationships with each user.
Finally, maintaining strong incentives for membership over the long term can be a major challenge for retention. It can be tempting to offer most of your incentives to new members to encourage them to sign up. However, doing so can essentially frontload the value of a subscription – past the initial term, members won’t get as much out of your site.
This can lead to members feeling that re-subscribing isn’t worth it since they’ve already enjoyed most of the benefits of your site. As such, it’s important to ensure that you offer plenty of long-term incentives alongside the initial benefits of subscribing.
How To Improve Member Retention
While member retention can be a challenge, by using the right tools and techniques you can greatly improve your ability to retain members. One of the best options is to use plugins and add-ons for your site that add new features to aid member retention.
For this article, we’ll be referencing one of the most popular WordPress membership plugins, Paid Memberships Pro (PMPro), since it’s got a great range of features for member retention that can give your site’s retention a massive boost. Here are some of the best ways that you can use PMPro s to enhance member retention on your site.
Gamification For Ongoing Value
One way to improve member retention on your membership site is to implement gamification features. Gamification involves applying game-like aspects to your website such as acquiring points for completing certain actions, leaderboards, rewarding users with badges or achievements, or allowing users to level up or reach new ranks based on their activity. This means your users will be incentivized to keep engaging with your site on a regular basis.
You can quickly and easily gamify a membership community using PMPro which integrates with gamification-specific plugins such as BadgeOS. BadgeOS gives you access to gamification features such as points, ranks, badges, leaderboards, progress bars, and more.
Another way to encourage member retention is to use live content on your site to incentivize long-term subscriptions. Often, the value of a subscription is front-loaded – once a member has accessed all the content available on your site, they have less reason to re-subscribe.
This can be addressed using live content such as webinars, Q&As, and community events. These events can help to provide further value to members with a time-limited event that they can only access if they remain subscribed.
Holding regular live events such as these essentially disincentivizes members from leaving due to a fear of missing out on valuable live content. At the same time, live events allow an opportunity to engage with your members and improve the sense of community on your site.
One way to implement live content on your site is to use the Uncanny Automator plugin with PMPro. This plugin allows you to connect Zoom Webinars using a simple interface, as well as automating the process of adding users to webinars using a variety of different triggers. You can also use a Zoom WordPress integration plugin, such as the Zoom WordPress plugin by elearning evolve to add live sessions to your member-exclusive pages.
Scheduled Content & Drip Content
As explained above, frontloading the value of a subscription by providing users access to all your content at the start of their membership can easily damage member retention rates. As such, it can be helpful to spread out content more evenly across the long term.
One way to do this is using scheduled or “drip” content. Essentially, this means scheduling content to go live at a certain date, or drip-feeding content to users by only allowing access to it after they have been members for a certain amount of time.
In doing so, you can encourage members to maintain their subscription over a longer term to access everything your site has to offer. Teasing upcoming content ahead of time is also a good way to keep members interested in new content to come.
PMPro is great for scheduled and drip content, thanks to the dedicated Series: Drip Feed Content Add-on. This PMPro plus add-on allows you to set up a “series” of posts, pages, and other content that gradually becomes available the longer someone is a member of your site. For example, you can set content to become available until a user has been a member for 30 days.
Discounts & Loyalty Rewards
One of the biggest challenges for member retention is the diminishing returns of a subscription that members might experience. While membership may initially offer a lot of value to a user, the longer they stay subscribed, the less new content they will experience.
As explored above, one way to manage this problem is to drip-feed content over longer periods to avoid the frontloading of value. Another approach, however, is to offer discounts and loyalty rewards to long-time members to encourage them to keep subscribing.
This may mean offering a cheaper annual subscription to incentivize year-long subscriptions instead of month-to-month ones. It could also mean cumulative discounts for each year someone remains a member, encouraging repeat subscriptions. You could also offer other rewards to long-term members such as VIP access or exclusive content and products.
PMPro can help you implement these rewards through its discount codes feature. These codes enable you to set different prices for a membership and can be provided to long-term members as a reward for staying with your site.
PMPro also allows you to set different membership levels with different access levels, meaning you can easily set up VIP member tiers for those who stay subscribed for a certain length of time.
Member retention is crucial for the success of any membership site, as it allows you to maintain a steady stream of income from repeat subscriptions. Member retention also helps your site’s community to thrive and can attract new users by showing that your site offers strong value to long-term users.
By using measures such as gamification, drip-fed content, live content, and more, your membership site can help to drive up member retention and ensure long-term success. If you are looking to build, improve or customize a membership site, don’t hesitate to contact our membership site experts to discuss your project.