Another Renewal Season is Coming.
That once-a-year crucible of chronic headache, loved by nobody.
Members don’t want to pay dues. Managers certainly don’t want to process hundreds of renewals. Board members wring their hands, desperate to see this years numbers improve over lasts.
Every year proceeds much like the last one did. Renewal emails go out, and are promptly ignored by an all-too-large portion of your members. Maybe you’re lucky enough to enjoy a small trickle of renewals, but chances are you’re bracing yourself from the inevitable torrent of procrastinators who will wait until membership lapses to get in gear and renew.
When they inevitably do, your organization is slammed with a glut of renewals. Your board needs those numbers for Q1 of the new year, and are going to crack the whip until they get them. So for yet another year, you can look forward to days stuck in a swamp of renewal applications, chasing member after member for their renewal.
Trapped under a mountain of work, you’re busting your butt at full capacity just to tread water. Because you’re so busy, you’re not able to identify any of the members likely to churn this year – much less engage with and retain them.
So renewal season ends, the board gets their numbers, and maybe this years renewals are down from lasts – or haven’t improved as hoped for. All that work, and nobody is any happier for it.
This year, and every year to come, can be different.
This Year, Cure the Renewal Season Blues
Renewal season is the flu for associations. Every winter, it comes along and puts you out of commission for days.
Like the flu shot, there are easily accessible ways to avoid getting sick every year.
Identify the tasks that consume your time, deploy appropriate tools to help with them, and – in the best case – you can inoculate your association by completely eliminating renewal processing. Even in the worst case (where you can’t eliminate all renewals) you can decrease the number requiring manual renewal and make processing each one faster.
Below, we’ll outline some of the most time-intensive tasks membership managers perform over renewal season, and talk about the widely-available and easily accessible tools that can make them more efficient. With less time and energy required to process renewals, more is available to identify and engage with members likely to churn.
These tools make renewal season more enjoyable for everybody. The board will love improved renewal rates, membership managers will love not having to endlessly process renewals, and your members will continue to love the value your organization brings them through their membership.
Here’s the first tool you can implement this season to develop your organization’s renewal season immunity:
1. Start Automated Recurring Billing (ARB)
Automated Recurring Billing (ARB) is a no-brainer for any organization that relies on regular dues payment. The technique offers benefits so significant, for costs so minor, that there is no real reason why you shouldn’t be using it.
If you aren’t enjoying the benefits of ARB, here are the main reasons why your organization should be.
No Need to Process Credit Card Renewals.
ARB totally eliminates the need to spend time managing credit card renewals, allowing your team to focus on increasing renewals instead of just processing them. As an added bonus, platforms that offer ARB generally also offer tools to make cash and check processing more efficient!
Stabilize Your Renewal Rate.
ARB immediately increases the stability of your renewal rate. Automated billing means you ask for consent to renew once for multiple renewals (instead of every year in your renewal email), removing opportunities for members to churn.
Up and Running in Under an Hour.
ARB is effortless to incorporate into your renewal process. It takes just as much time to set up ARB as it does to process a credit card payment, so if you’re investing the time, why not invest it in setting up ARB for your renewing members this year?
2. Refresh Your Renewal Reminder Strategy
Having a renewal reminder strategy is a basic requirement for renewal season, but that doesn’t mean that your strategy should be basic!
How does your organization approach the task of renewal reminders? If you’re like most associations, you strategy consists of an email or two to be sent to each of your members once renewal season comes around, letting them know to renew.
If yours is as similar to the one described above – you have a significant opportunity to drive up your renewal rates this year and into the future by incorporating only a few principles into your renewal strategy. Consider incorporating any (or all) of the following renewal reminder tips into this years renewal season!
• Include a link to pay in your renewal reminders.
Informing members that they need to renew is not enough. Strike while the iron is hot by allowing members to renew while the need to do so is fresh in their mind! Including a link to initiate the renewal process right in your reminder email makes the process easy, and when renewal is easy, more members are likely to do it!
• Offer ARB sign-up in renewal emails.
Nobody likes renewal emails cluttering up their inbox, and the last thing you want is for members to be flagging your renewal reminders for the junk folder. Offer members the ability to stop all future reminder emails by signing up for ARB! Not only does this keep member inboxes a little cleaner, but it offers the convenience of not having to manually renew every year, and keeps you out of the junk folder.
• Segment audiences and create unique reminders for each.
You have many different members. Why have one email to serve them all? Segmenting your membership into distinct audiences and crafting unique email messaging for each is a powerful and accessible way to boost the impact of your renewal reminders.
3. Use Engagement Analytics
Data-based decision making is the future of membership-based organizations. Is it the future of yours?
By tracking and analyzing member engagement data, tools like engagement analytics equip your association with the insight needed to focus your energy where it matters next renewal season.
- Use member tracking data and analytics to determine which members are likely to churn this year so you can invest the time and energy of your team on retaining those relationships, instead of wasting it contacting members who would have renewed anyways.
- If you cant do so for this year, make setting up member engagement analytics a priority for Q1 2019, and enjoy the benefits that result next year! Optimize the time you spend retaining members by investing it where your data has shown you it needs to be invested!
Enjoy the Benefits This Year, and Every Year to Come
The tips above are not difficult or time consuming to implement, and can have a substantial impact on your team’s efficiency, your organizations renewal rate, and your member’s peace of mind.
This year, instead of suffering through your annual renewal season headache, consider implementing some – or all – of the above tips to ease stress and drive success for yourself, your organization, and your members!