How To Keep Members Once They’ve Enrolled (Member Retention)

This is part 4 of 4 of a series on Membership Sites & Recurring Income.

It is one thing to enroll a new member into your membership site. It is quite another to KEEP them.

The industry average retention period for a membership site is 3 months. That isn’t very long, and with a high turnover rate like that, the pressure will really be on to keep enrolling new people in order to grow your cash flow. There are, however, many things you can do to increase retention and keep people around.

This is part 4 of 4 of a series on Membership Sites & Recurring Income.

It is one thing to enroll a new member into your membership site. It is quite another to KEEP them.

The industry average retention period for a membership site is 3 months. That isn’t very long, and with a high turnover rate like that, the pressure will really be on to keep enrolling new people in order to grow your cash flow. There are, however, many things you can do to increase retention and keep people around.

Before I delve in, I’ll send a quick shout-out to Stu over at Wishlist Member, as some of the ideas below I got him from.

  1. Welcome video on your member dashboard. you don’t want new members logging in for the first time and wondering, “What now?”. If they have to think too much, they’re a lot more likely to turn around and cancel.
  2. Have them take commitment steps. Get them busy and start participating as quickly as possible. Get them to become mentally committed to the experience. For example, have them fill out their profile (photo, etc.) and post their first comment in your member forums. In my Blog Masters program, I have a Blog Masters pledge they go through. It is a little bit tongue-in-cheek, but it is also a form of commitment.
  3. Build a community. People often sign up to get content, but they stick around for awhile because of community. If you can get your members interacting and gaining value from each other inside your membership site, retention is better.
  4. Public recognition. Occasionally send a shout-out to new members by name. You can do this in your member email list, for example. The Wishlist folks have a program called Wishlist Insider, and they do a weekly live VIDEO show inside their membership site. One of the things they do is acknowledge new members who signed up that week. Cool idea.
  5. Clean design and navigation. It makes sure they don’t get confused (and confused people leave). Optimizepress is awesome for a well-design membership portal.
  6. Set up a point system for participation, with bonuses/prizes. You could give them points for logging in, for commenting, for starting a new thread, for replying – whatever. A plug-in called Cube Points can help you do this pretty easily.
  7. Grandfathered pricing. Raise the price, and keep all your existing members at the old price. I did this with my Inner Circle, and everybody who enrolled before I increased the price stays at the old rate.
  8. Overlapping content with cliffhangers. Using WP Drip, you set up the content drip. But, when you set up the drip, you set it up so that at the end of the month, it partially releases the next block of content, but they have to wait until the following month to get the rest of it. The following month, you finish that month, then partially release the NEXT month. And so on. So, essentially, you’re leaving them with unfinished stuff and it entices them to stick around to finish the story.
  9. List upcoming content. Tease them.
  10. Spotlight members. Increases the sense of belonging, of exclusivity.
  11. Unite around a group goal. Stu told the story of how he got his Insiders mutually involved in his charity efforts in Africa. Touching story, but also unites your member base behind a good cause.
  12. Shared experience. This one can be a little more involved, but basically you can put on a live event somewhere for your members.

The overall key is to not overwhelm people, provide them quality stuff, help them, and get them involved.

If you do that, you should be able to keep them longer than 3 months. It takes a little time to do this and to set it up, but I know first hand the drawback of NOT thinking about this stuff.

This is part 4 of 4 of a series on Membership Sites & Recurring Income.

About David Risley
David Risley is the founder of the Blog Marketing Academy, a 20-year veteran blogger and online entrepreneur. His focus? Building a reliable, recurring business around his "lifestyle" and the lives of his students. He has this weird obsession with traveling in his motorhome around the country with his wife and 2 kids. David also likes to talk about himself in the third person. In bios like this one. Read his full story.
  • Johnny says:

    Is there a minimum number of members that you would recommend before opening up a forum, and letting them communicate with each other?

    Basically, I’m curious if a low number of participants and lack of use would deter others from joining or staying around.

    • David Risley says:

      Yes, it would. Forums can be difficult for many reasons. My Monetization Lab community is on Facebook and it is fantastic. Very high engagement and very active… and I think a huge part of that is because it is on Facebook.

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