Why is Member Retention Important?

member retention

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We’ve shared ways to increase member retention in your association, but let’s back up a bit and discuss why member retention is important. In an ideal world, all of your association members would stick around forever, but as you are probably well aware, unfortunately that is not the case. When members want to stay, though, that means you are doing something right. They are experiencing the value of the membership and see it as worthwhile, and the benefits of member retention expand from there. 

Cost effective

It’s probably not surprising that it costs less to retain members than to attract new ones. In fact data suggests it can cost up to 25 times more to gain a new member than to retain an existing member. Marketing and advertising add to the expense as well as research necessary to acquire new members. Furthermore, a steady member retention rate allows the organization to plan on revenue from member dues. Knowing your member retention rate, that is the rate at which members of your association continue to pay their dues and remain active and involved, and being able to plan accordingly, provides stability and consistency in your association.

Overall marker of a successful membership

Member retention is one important measure of a successful association and its value. By focusing on member retention, your association will develop a stronger reputation as a valuable association worth joining. As existing members become more engaged and participate in events, potential new members will take notice. 

Active, engaged members are also more likely to share positive referrals and take on the heavy lifting of marketing the association for you. When members are engaged, they are demonstrating that they enjoy the association and it’s worth putting in the effort to participate. This social proof marketing is particularly effective, especially if potential new members know and trust your existing members. 


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Enriches your membership

Not only is member retention a marker of a successful membership, it is also a marker of a rich membership. As new members become long-term members, they get to know the association in new ways and can provide unique contributions as well. For example, members that have been on board could participate in an e-learning or other exclusive opportunity, which make the association more valuable and could also potentially bring in new revenue streams as well. In short, while member acquisition may encourage growth in numbers, member retention encourages growth in depth, further increasing value.

Focusing on member retention also allows your association’s core mission to stay front and center. Keeping your services true to your mission means you won’t get distracted with secondary ideas and you will be serving your existing members to the best of your ability. 

While member acquisition may produce more short-term gains, member retention helps build the association in the long-term and is critical for all associations to consider. Although investing in member retention takes time and consistency, the myriad ways it pays off is well worth the effort.


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