The Membership Guys

How to Identify Your Member Drop-Off Points

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What do you fear most as a membership site owner?  Let me guess. Cancellations?!

But here’s a secret…  you’re not alone.

Even your friendly neighbourhood Membership Guys face this fear with you!

Truth is, cancellations are inevitable.

It’s just a part of running a membership business.

There are strategies you can put into place to reduce the number of cancellations (think nurture, engage and retain strategies).

You can also put measures into place that will slow the rate of cancellation down.

But don’t kid yourself.

Cancellations are going to happen.

We have to deal with it, accept it, and handle those cancellations gracefully and in a positive manner so that we are not burning our bridges with people who could easily come back and re-join the site.

Sometimes the reasons for cancellation are beyond your control and that of your member.

Life happens!

But it’s important to know that there are certain drop-off points that you can identify ahead of time that are predictable.

What is a drop-off point?

A drop-off point is a point at which you have a higher number of people leaving your membership for the same reasons than you would typically have on a day to day basis. 

But please don’t despair!

Let me shed some light on the types of drop-off points you may encounter and the ways in which you can mitigate this risk and minimize the number of cancellations.

We have grouped the drop-off points into 5 categories.

1) Initial exit opportunity

This is the point during the initial joining period when someone first signs up to your membership site.

When they login for the first time and spend the next 24 to 48 hours exploring the material and resources, they are evaluating the site in many ways.

  • Does it match their expectations?
  • Do they get value for their money spent?
  • Have they made the right decision?

If the answer is no to these questions, then they may make the decision to leave the community.

If you have a trial period for new members, then obviously, the end date of that trial is the trigger for this initial exit drop-off point.

The same applies to a refund period, a money-back guarantee period or the end of the billing cycle date.

So, within the first month when someone joins your site you will see several different points that can form a common drop-off point. A time when you lose a lot more members than normal.

You need to ensure that you have a strong on-boarding process in place and that you are creating a good first impression in order to make sure that you are minimizing the number of members who drop-off during this initial period.

2) Renewal periods

Quarterly, 6 months or annual renewal periods are also big drop-off points.

If somebody joins for 12 months and their 12 months are coming to an end, they have a big decision to make because it is a bigger lump sum investment than a monthly investment.

You will see many cancellations during renewal periods, and you need to have a retention strategy in place to maximize the number of renewals, and thereby reducing the drop-offs.

3) End of drip-fed or scheduled series content

Let’s say, you have one big signature course or series that is your star attraction and what you are known for.

You are using a 12-week drip campaign to market the offering.

Naturally, once the 12 weeks are over, people who only joined for that specific content will start dropping off at a higher rate than the number of members cancelling on a day to day basis.

Even if you have a thriving community and other great resources and courses on your membership site, there will always be those people who joined just for your flagship program.

They will consume it, then leave.

You need to ensure you have a retention system in place for this scenario. 

4) Seasonal drop-offs

Christmas is a very common time to see loss of members purely for financial reasons, whether that’s because they are spending more money on gifts or on family staying over for the holidays.

In a similar way, New Years’ can also have the same impact on your cancellation volume.

They may consider the membership to your site expendable and it just doesn’t fit into their budget anymore.

During the summer months, more people are away on vacation or are spending more time outside.

This means they are not inclined to sit in front of their computer and consume your content.

This is another reason why people can drift away from your membership site.

It’s important to identify these patterns and be proactive in preventing drop-offs in your own membership base so that they are accounted for when you put the practices and tactics in place to improve your member retention.

5) Topic based drop-offs

Depending on the topic or subject of your membership site, this can have an impact on cancellations as well.

Here are some examples of what I mean:

  • High school or college education sites that are aimed at helping people with their studies. Naturally, the end of the school year will be a drop-off period.
  • In the business market, where the end of tax year or budget periods can be a trigger for drop-offs.
  • Age can play a factor depending on your topic. Your site helps high school students decide on a university, then once they reach university, they no longer need your content.

It’s a worthwhile exercise to monitor the performance of your membership site, identify patterns with sign-ups and drop-offs, and average member attendance.

But also, to try to monitor, predict and pre-empt seasonal drop-off periods or topic-based drop-off periods according to your audience profile.

By identifying your common, core drop-off periods, then you can make sure that you are taking advantage of this information by tailoring your communications and releasing unexpected bonus content that your members were not expecting.

This will hopefully keep them engaged and invested for a little bit longer, giving you the time to reengage with them, reactivate them and prolong the member lifecycle.

Identifying patterns is the remedy to cancellations.

Pre-empting the drop-offs means knowing the drop-off patterns and knowing what is in the pipeline.  It could be part of an automated sequence to woo your existing members when renewal time is coming up.

Or it could mean scheduling a one-off campaign with extra bonus material that will entice your member to stay longer during the holiday season.

It’s important to map this stuff out and to know where your points of weakness are in terms of holding on to your members.

If you do that, you will find that your member retention improves, your community will grow, and it will naturally, organically prolong your member life cycle.

Hopefully this article has given you the nudge to take a look at your audience and site statistics to help you predict the common drop-off periods. This will inform your engagement and retention strategies that will keep your members around longer.