Get More Renewals With a UX Mindset

Attention to user experience isn’t just for website development. Membership teams that think like their members and step into their shoes get better retention results. A new guide offers some UX tips and tricks to use during a member’s renewal period.

Recently, I had to create a website from scratch. I’m getting married next year, and I needed to build an event site that explains the details for our guests before the big day. While I love to lament wedding planning, I enjoyed this exercise because it allowed me to wear my user-experience (UX) hat, something membership teams might want to try on.

For those new to UX, it’s an iterative design process that teams use to create websites and other digital experiences that are easy for users to navigate and provide meaningful and relevant information. Before my site launch, I used several UX principles—creating a clear hierarchy of pages, keeping the language consistent and concise, and making use of attention-grabbing images and headlines.

But most importantly, I reached out to a few family members with different backgrounds to test the site before it went live. Their feedback was incredibly valuable and helped me improve everything from link and navigation elements to smaller copy and design choices.

If you’re not using UX, studying up on some basics could result in more positive member experiences. It forces you to put yourself in your members’ shoes—and a member-first mindset puts you in the best position to improve your most important membership metrics, says Matthew Mantione, CAE, vice president of membership, marketing, and sales at the Transportation Intermediaries Association.

“We all think and develop strategy with [the member] in mind, which ultimately supports the two big R’s—recruitment and retention,” he says. “This mindset—or a shift to it, if you don’t have it— will undoubtedly open up new doors and new ways of thinking, and challenge your staff to be more creative in how [they] deliver value that results in the retention of members.”

Recently, Marketing General Incorporated (MGI) released a Membership Renewal Guide that provides a UX framework for renewals. Here are three key takeaways from the guide:

Create attention-grabbing subject lines and offers. If you’re not already testing subject lines in renewal emails, start doing it now. MGI says associations can improve open rates by more than 50 percent if they conduct subject line tests. This testing tool from CoSchedule is an easy way to rate and review the quality of your next subject line.

The MGI guide also recommends using clear and urgent call-to-action messages for renewals, and the earlier you start this process, the better. One tactic that MGI suggests is the “early bird” offer, which gives members a slight dues discount in exchange for an earlier renewal.

Offer multiple forms of payment. Access and equity are two important considerations built into UX testing, and these principles are essential for dues payments. Whereas one member might prefer a plan that allows them to pay in installments, especially if they pay out of pocket, another member who is strapped for time might find it better to renew through an automatic and recurring credit card payment. The MGI guide suggests surveying members first about payment preferences or giving at least a few options for immediate or staggered payments.

Audit the renewal cycle and add grace periods. A recent Collaborate discussion [ASAE member log-in required] highlighted the importance of analyzing the renewal cycle with a recurring audit. An audit may reveal pain points or unnecessary steps that bog down members in the renewal cycle.

If you don’t already have a renewal schedule built, the MGI guide outlines a 16-month schedule that associations can use to map out when and how they engage. And for members who lapse, consider adding a grace period of two to three months. That’s the average grace period most associations offer, according to the guide, and it correlates with overall renewal rates of 80 percent or more.

(Chaosamran_Studio/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Tim Ebner

By Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. MORE

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