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Improve Member Retention: Nine Ways to Build Engagement and Loyalty

Written by Kathryn Marr on September 24, 2019 Blog, Marketing.

If you run a membership site, you know that retaining existing members is critical to success.  Obtaining new customers is much more costly than keeping your current ones. And happy, loyal members share their experiences with friends and family.

But how do you keep your members engaged and loyal to your brand?

1. Provide perks your members will love

Let’s be honest – everyone loves perks.  A great way to keep members coming back is to go the extra mile and offer additional benefits that they will enjoy.  So if you provide an online fitness program, you may also want to give a percentage off the health and wellness products sold in your store.  With WooCommerce Memberships, you can offer discounts for all products, specific products, or product categories, so you can exclude your products with the lowest margins or customize the discount to match your members’ needs.

You may also want to consider providing membership access when customers purchase a product.  For example, if you offer monthly meal boxes, provide free access to your database of recipes with a six-month subscription.

Screenshot of Grut Brushes using WooCommerce Memberships
Photo ©

GrutBrushes, for example, includes a 60-day membership to their art brushes program when customers purchase a complete pack of art brushes.  Not only is this an added benefit for customers, they may also continue with a paid membership after the trial is over.

Perks can also be a great way to encourage happy members to help you grow your business.  You can provide them with an exclusive gift or free month of your membership in exchange for referring their friends and family.  These types of benefits make people feel special and keep them coming back for more.

2. Regularly drip content

One of the most important things you can do is regularly come up with new content to provide your members.  If you sell stock photography, make sure to add new photos once in a while to keep things interesting. If you offer training and education in the form of videos, customers are more likely to stick around if you’re always providing them with new tutorials.

One way to keep things interesting is to drip content, which means that you schedule when members can access information.  For example, you can set certain content to be available after a member has subscribed for a week, a month, or a year. This helps you take advantage of your existing content while you work on developing more.  Your members will always feel like they’re getting additional information without any extra work on your end.

3. Create a community for your members

Members that build friendships within your community won’t want to leave.  Not only will they not want to lose the relationships they’ve built, but connecting with other people can mean that they find more success with your membership.

For example, if you offer online fitness classes or meal plans, a community offers a sense of accountability.  Studies show that couples who work out separately have a 43% drop-out rate, while those that work out together have only a 6.3% drop-out rate.  Humans are social animals and look for support and reinforcement from others. Plus, fear of disappointing someone is a major incentive to keep going!

Communities can also be advantageous because they offer people a way to share experiences and ask one another questions.  If you sell a library of Photoshop brushes, your members may want to share examples of their work with one another, or ask for advice about solving a specific problem.

WooCommerce Memberships does offer integration with bbPress, forum software created specifically for WordPress.  You can build forums covering a wide range of topics and allow access for active members only.

Another option is to create a private Facebook group and encourage your members to join.  This puts your community on a platform they’re already comfortable using but still allows you full control over communication.  

4. Add a VIP experience for long-time members

As a “thank you” for members that have been around for a long time, consider adding a VIP experience to the mix.  You could hold a special event if many of your customers are located in the same area. Or you could increase the discount they receive off of your products or provide access to an exclusive library of content reserved just for them.

These special benefits act as a reward for their commitment to your membership.  They make your members feel appreciated and are something they can talk to their friends about.  You never know; their friends might just become members themselves!

5. Connect with your members

It’s important that your members feel like there’s someone behind the membership that they’re a part of.  They want to feel appreciated and involved.

If you have your customers’ addresses, send signed “thank you” cards or handwritten notes for birthdays, holidays, and their membership anniversary.  With WooCommerce Memberships, you can do something similar, no address necessary.  Keep track of information you gain about each member, then send them personalized notes via email.  For example, if you learn that one of your customers is traveling soon, reach out to ask them about their trip.  Or, send them a bit of encouragement for finishing a course or reaching a milestone.

You can also use Mailchimp for WooCommerce Memberships to sync your members’ information with your Mailchimp account.  Quickly create customer segments and send emails to everyone on a specific membership plan or customers using a free trial.  This is a great opportunity to connect with your members based on where they are in your membership. Send helpful tips, special sales, or thank you emails.

6. Create an effective on-boarding process

To set your members up for success and get them started on the right track, a good on-boarding process is critical.  Your goal is to provide them with all the information they need to take advantage of the benefits your membership provides and become long-term fans of your brand.

A great place to start is with a “welcome” email series. Mailchimp for WooCommerce Memberships is one way to set this up.  Instead of hitting your customers with everything up-front, send a series of emails over a few days thanking them for joining, providing instructions to get started, and linking to valuable resources that help them make the most of your membership program.  

You may also want to create a series of touch points for connecting with your members in the beginning.  For example, at the end of Week One, you could email them to check in and offer tips that apply to the specific point they’re at in your membership.  At the end of Month One, you could offer a consultation phone call to answer any questions. Of course, this will vary based on your membership, so customize these touch points to make sense for you. 

7. Use videos and other multimedia

Videos can be incredibly valuable, depending on the type of membership you offer.  Consider making walkthrough videos with instructions on navigating your member dashboard and using your resources. For example, if you have a yoga membership, you might want to add a video showing your members how to do a specific pose.  Or if you sell stock photography, you could share videos about resizing them for social media accounts. 

Screenshot of PHLearn membership page, listing included benefits
Photo ©

Of course, videos can be part of your offering as well. PHLEARN includes access to more than 150 Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography videos along with their other resources.  These tutorials aren’t solely an added benefit; they also help members use the Lightroom presets and Photoshop actions that they offer.

Screenshot of Paddock Magazine product page
Photo ©

The Paddock Magazine offers several types of multimedia, including galleries, videos, and digital desktop versions of their content as part of their membership.  It’s all organized in an easy-to-consume archive with content dating back eight years.

8. Conduct customer surveys

Customer surveys provide a valuable method of gathering feedback from your members.  Consider sending them to your existing members to find out what they love, what they’re confused about, and what they wish you did better.  This gives you the opportunity to fix any problems, correct your on-boarding process, or better explain your membership program.

You can also send surveys to previous members to find out why they left.  Was it too expensive? Did they get everything out of it that they wanted?  Were they unhappy with something?

There are a variety of ways to create customer surveys, but if you want something that integrates directly with your WooCommerce site, consider using Crowdsignal.  Designing a survey is just as easy as adding a blog post in WordPress.

9. Make benefits readily accessible

Make sure that your members understand the benefits included with their membership and how to take advantage of those.  You don’t want customers to leave just because they didn’t understand what you offer!

WooCommerce Memberships allows you to create sections of the member area that individually highlight accessible content, discounts, products, and membership notes.  This helps them know exactly what’s available and gives them access right away.

Screenshot of Leaders in Sport membership features area
Photo ©

The company, Leaders in Sport, also uses their membership landing page to clearly outline the available benefits.  Features are listed in clear, easy-to-understand boxes, with short descriptions and images so that members know exactly what they get after signing up.

You may want to include a list of benefits in your initial welcome email, or at least as a part of your welcome email series.  The more ways this information is available for customers, the more likely it is they’ll take advantage of it.

Keep Your Members Happy

The steps to retaining members are relatively simple.  Focus on providing benefits they love, connecting with them, and meeting their needs, and you’ll have a membership site that’s built for success.

For more tips on using WooCommerce Memberships, check out our full documentation.

Create a membership system that's integrated with your store using WooCommerce Memberships

6 Responses

  1. Hena
    September 26, 2019 at 8:32 am #

    This is great. Thanks for shedding light on member retention.

    • Kathryn
      September 27, 2019 at 3:07 am #

      Thanks, Hena! Glad you found it helpful!

    • Uzo
      September 29, 2019 at 7:48 pm #

      Thanks I found this so helpful on the project am working on to be launched in no distant future.

  2. Charlie
    September 26, 2019 at 5:50 pm #

    Thanks for this, very helpful to a client I am working with.

    • Kathryn
      September 27, 2019 at 11:37 pm #

      Great to hear, Charlie!

  3. edward murage
    September 29, 2019 at 1:07 pm #

    Great edition ,awosome will be able now to enroll a membership retention site