Why You’re Losing Members and What You Can Do About It
Like it or not, your members won’t stick around forever, losing members is just part and parcel of operating a membership site.
However there’s plenty that you can do to make sure that you’re not losing members for the wrong reasons.
Members leave because they’ve consumed all of your content
If your membership consists mainly of static content that either doesn’t change, or where new content is published on a relatively slow schedule, it’s likely that your members will burn through the content you have available.
Once someone has consumed all that you have to offer, they’re not likely to keeping giving you money out of the goodness of their heart.
And even if you have a community element to your site it’s not likely that’ll be enough to get them to stick around once your core offering has been exhausted.
What you can do about it: Add more content, with greater regularity.
If you expect people to pay you on an ongoing basis, you need to provide ongoing value.
This doesn’t necessarily need to be huge, epic courses; there are plenty of types of high value content that you can produce with minimal effort in order to keep members engaged and paying.
Members leave because of technical problems
While you may think your site is working perfectly and is easy to use, it’s entirely possible that some of your members are struggling with technical problems or are having trouble figuring out how to use your site.
Technical gremlins can cause an immense amount of frustration, particularly if your members are having issues from the first day of their membership; and in a lot of cases they’ll simply cancel their account rather than try to persevere.
What you can do about it: Sometimes what seems like a bug might just be someone not knowing how to use elements of your site – so part of your onboarding process should be to give an overview of how to get started, or something like a video showing how to use key parts of your site.
For actual technical problems, ensuring you have a clear point of contact for support (be it a helpdesk, live chat or at the very least a support email address that is monitored) and making sure this is visible to members will at least help make sure people know where to turn to if they’re having difficulty.
Members leave because they don't get round to using your site
We’ve all done it – signed up for a product or service with the best intentions of using it to its fullest, only for it to fall to the bottom of the to-do list as life gets in the way.
Often when that happens, people tend to let their membership continue running for months (sometimes years) on end, without ever actually using what they’re paying for.
I can’t begin to imagine how much money is made by gyms around the world because of this exact same thing!
In the end, though, these people will eventually cancel their membership, and will often be less likely to give your site another shot in the future due to never having made use of it first time round.
What you can do about it: Ensure that your onboarding process introduces members to the core aspects of your offering, and if you have a forum then encourage people to dive in and participate as early as possible.
Create a variety of regular, compelling content; and make sure that your members are regularly updated about new additions to your membership site.
Also, make sure you keep an eye out for members who are slipping away in terms of their engagement.
Most membership plugins will show the last date someone logged in so you can check these weekly – or make use of something like Intercom.io to automatically segment and contact members who haven’t logged in for a while.
Members leave because they can no longer afford the membership fees
Your pricing strategy isn’t going to suit everyone – nor should it – and there’s little you can do if a members financial situation changes unexpectedly.
However if you’re finding that your member turnover is high and people aren’t sticking around for more than a month or so, it may be that you need to review both the amount you charge and the payment structure that you’re using.
Even if you get a lot of signups for a product that has a high monthly premium – if those same members quit after a month then it’s likely they never intended or were able to pay that amount regularly, and instead signed up in order to try to get as much as they could from your site within their first month or two.
While you don’t want to compromise yourself or undervalue your offering by pricing yourself too low; it’s important to find a balance between what you want to charge and what your audience wants to pay.
What you can do about it: First and foremost, pricing is something you’ll want to split-test in order to make sure you’re hitting the sweet spot in terms of what to charge, so make sure you’re doing that.
Additionally it may be the payment frequency that’s the issue, so if you’re charging an annual or quarterly fee then consider introducing a monthly option (even if just as a “pre-cancellation” offer to encourage people not to leave).
You might also consider giving people the option to pause their membership – which is a great way of accommodating members who might be having unexpected, short term financial challenges or other expenses that would otherwise make them cancel.
Several membership plugins support this feature and it’s a great way to hang on to members.
Members leave because their payment has failed
Payment problems occur for a variety of reasons, not just because someone can’t afford it or has no money in their account.
If the attempt to rebill you members fails, then it’s entirely possible they won’t find this out or be able to do anything about it until it’s too late.
If someones account on your membership site is closed because their payment fails, then they may end up just not bothering with the effort it takes to rejoin, particularly if the issue is specific to payments for your site (which can sometimes happen!)
What you can do about it: Keeping on top of any payments that fail is definitely important, and making sure that steps are taken to sort out any problems before an access to your site is revoked.
Some membership systems such as MemberPress have built-in features whereby a member will automatically be emailed if there’s a payment failure; and with plugins like S2Member you can tweak your Paypal checkout code to specify how many times to re-attempt to take payment.
Plus with some membership systems you can implement ‘grace periods’ or downgrade an account when a payment fails rather than cancel it outright.
Members leave because they've achieved their goals
Ultimately people join membership sites and other online education resources because they want to achieve one or more goals and/or generate certain results.
The more specific the topic of your membership site or online course is, the more likely someone is going to reach their intended destination quickly.
This should, of course, be celebrated.
If the intention of your product is to generate success, impart knowledge and foster achievement then accomplishing that is a great thing; but of course it does typically mean that members will ultimately finish up their involvement in your site and move on to other things.
What you can do about it: Firstly, pat yourself on the back!
And then after that, figure out what comes next for your members when they’ve accomplished their intended goals.
Can you offer something which facilitates the next stage of their development?
A mastermind group, one on one coaching, or more advanced membership product?
Figure out what comes next and make sure that the progression from your core membership site or course through to the next level offering is clear.
At the very least, make sure you’re leveraging their success – by way of testimonials, case studies, endorsements and interviews – to help bring in more new members to replace them.
Of course these are not the only reasons why people leave membership sites – but they do represent relatively quick fixes in order to plug the holes in your member retention and make sure people aren’t slipping away because of easily resolved reasons.
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