In my last blog post, I’m Not “Past Due” on Your Invoice! I shared the challenges and common perceptions of association pros on sending invoices and letters to members who have not renewed. It’s important we recognize that renewals are optional and members don’t legally owe us anything.
I’m often asked for advice on how to write more compelling letters that influence members to renew. If you’ve been sending out letters with a threatening tone to make members feel bad for not renewing, then stop doing so. They either backfire on you because those members take offense to your threats and call your bluff, or they renew reluctantly out of guilt or to get you off their case. Neither of those reasons help to build quality experiences or loyal members.
Consider how you can implement these 5 tips to create renewal letters or emails that resonate positively with members and generate more of the outcomes intended:
- Use a Personal Touch — Everyone wants to be recognized as an individual, so abandon greetings like “Dear Valued Member,” which does the opposite. Use a merge field that inserts first names in your letters and emails. This should feel like a one-on-one conversation with one member, not all.
- Know Your Audience — Rather than use a “one size fits all” message, consider different member segments that have specific things in common (e.g., membership levels, length of time as a member, size of company) so you can customize two or three distinctive renewal messages. Perhaps it’s appropriate to have a “We couldn’t do it without you” message for longer term members, a “Welcome Back!” message for first-year members that includes tips for the next year, or a “We Miss You” message for those who have not been engaged in a while.
- Remarket the Value of Membership — Renewals are “rejoins” and it’s important to reiterate benefits based on what matters to members (hence the importance of tip #2). Although some join and rejoin because of your mission and impact on the industry/community, most members belong to help them achieve their objectives or to solve their challenges. Provide a brief overview of your recent accomplishments and highlight specific benefits that align with their interests (again, tip #2).
- Make Members Feel Appreciated and Excited About the Coming Year — Knowing that renewals are optional, provide a genuine note of thanks and let members know you appreciate their support. Consider offering a discount if membership is renewed within 30 days. Mention a few upcoming programs or activities that are on the horizon because of their support. Include at least one thing that doesn’t require them to “show up” (e.g., improvements to the directory, new online resource, partnership, initiative that supports the industry/community).
- Provide Renewal Options — Now that you have highlighted the importance of belonging to your organization and asked for their renewals, offer members convenient and multiple ways to renew. State the different ways such as Online (with a link to their member account and include log-in credentials, if possible), Mail (provide the address) and Phone (give them the number). Offer the option to make multiple payments. And attach the invoice for their review and record.
Would it help to see a sample renewal letter that uses these tips? I thought so! I’ve had this one from the Oncology Nursing Society in my collection for a while and it’s still one of my favorites!
So, are you ready to use a new approach to influence members to renew? Me, too. Let’s compare notes and share how things are going. Join the discussion on my Facebook page!
Cathi Hight helps organizations manage constant change, deliver benefits that members value and effectively communicate the value of membership. She serves as the SVP of Growth Strategy and Investor Relations for the Greater Austin Chamber and is the President of Hight Performance Group. Cathi is the developer of The Member Retention Kit and A New Approach to Tiered Membership. Learn more at www.hightperformance.com.