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Renew, winback, upgrade and acquire new members

In the ongoing pursuit of membership growth, it is common for membership specialists to plan targeted member acquisition campaigns. 

However, it is important to remember that membership is multi-dimensional and only an integrated approach can secure stable growth of membership revenue.

So what’s incorporated in an integrated approach? It requires a broad yet comprehensive focus that covers increasing member retention rates, membership upgrades, reducing admin support of the membership processes and, finally, acquiring new members. Perhaps think of your membership growth goals as a series of simultaneous campaigns with no fixed timelines.

We’ve created a membership growth checklist to help you recognise the key elements of a strategic and successful membership growth plan.


The first step here is being aware of your organisation’s membership renewal rate. This is not a time for guesswork.
You will then need to analyse the precise reasons members choose not to renew and identify the major gaps in your service offering that lead to non-renewals. How can your association reduce these renewal roadblocks?

This checklist of questions will help you get started:

• How user-friendly is the renewal process and how can it be improved? Can members pay online, via mobile? Can automated credit card renewals be set up?

• Does your renewal message reach members? Do you communicate the message through multiple channels (e.g. email, SMS, phone calls)?

• What is the follow-up process? Is the process automated? Is there a ‘personal touch’ to the renewal process?

• Are members reminded about the member value proposition during the renewal?

• Is there incentive to renew earlier (e.g. early bird rates, discounts to events if renew earlier)? 


Lapsed members are valuable asset to your association. Why? Because people leave professional associations for many different reasons, and the motivations behind the decision can change over time. 

Of course it will be difficult to win back people who changed their industry or retired, but what about those who stopped paying for membership simply because they didn’t see enough benefits? What if they forgot to renew or didn’t return after a break (e.g. maternity leave or working overseas)? These people can be won back – your challenge is to work out how.

Win-back campaigns may include:
• Following up with personalised messages through different channels (email, SMS, phone call) and re-instating member value propositions. This may be especially effective before big events / awards nomination periods / mentoring programs, where only eligible members can participate.
• Renewal rate discounts for a short period of time.
• Invitations to re-join for free for 3-6 month to re-trial the member benefits.
• Extra discount for an important event if they re-join (cross-selling).
• Offering free networking event tickets if they re-join.


It is important to remind members about upgrading their membership and climbing their personal career ladder. Following up with members who are eligible to upgrade often results in membership revenue growth.

Increasing membership upgrades can be achieved by:
• Developing clear pathways of moving from Student to Graduate and Professional membership, then towards accreditation.
• Offering regular reminders to eligible members about benefits of upgrading their membership and getting accreditation.
• Developing annual promo plan of membership upgrade incentives, especially for young members who move from Student and Graduate to Associate Membership.
Depending on whether your association practises membership sales and promotions, member acquisition campaigns may include:
• Targeted limited-time sales / promotions. For example, half-price student membership during university O-Days, a campaign targeted to a certain group of members etc.
• Cross-promotion with events e.g. register for an event and receive 3-month trial membership for free, bigger gap in event pricing (‘It’s cheaper to become a member!’ message) etc.
• Member-bring-a member campaigns 

Please, note, it is important to be careful with membership promotions not to reduce the value of the standard membership. 

The goal of any association is for members to feel proud to be part of the community, rather than join purely for financial benefits. 

We recommend using sales / promotion techniques only to targeted groups and for short periods of time for those who don’t know about the value of the membership e.g. students.
MemberBoat specialises in membership marketing and engagement strategies that drive membership growth in a variety of ways working together. 

Talk to MemberBoat today about how they can help your organisation renew, win back, upgrade and acquire more members.

Posted on December 2, 2018

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