People have a lot of options these days, and if your customers aren't happy with your membership, they'll find someone else who can better meet their needs. So how can you satisfy your members so you don't lose them to the competition?
James and KLEQ's John Lint tackle an important but often overlooked aspect of paid membership: retention. In the years they've run memberships, they've seen what minimizes churn, what keeps people engaged, and even what brings former members back. So tune in to this value-laden episode of The Membership Series.
01:37 – What churn is and why retention is a big deal. Too much of this, and you don’t have a business.
07:22 – First off: how do you onboard people? Retention strategies start the moment people join your membership.
10:33 – What happens when you join KLEQ. Get an example of onboarding done right.
12:57 – What do your members want and need? It’s your customers that matter, not your whims.
16:03 – Showing them that what you do works. If other people get these results, it must be worth staying for.
20:23 – Keeping your customers engaged and coming back. Counter distractions and loss of interest with these tips.
24:47 – How support and follow-up affect retention. Your help desk can be a big retention factor.
27:28 – Bringing them back after they’ve left. Goodbye isn’t forever.
29:52 – The importance of just showing up. Avoid the mistake some big gurus make.
31:17 – If you feel them slipping away… Is everything okay? Can we help?
32:11 – Find and champion your leaders. These are the people who show what you do is real.
Retention is something membership owners can forget to address, in their preoccupation with getting customers. And in this episode, James and KLEQ‘s John Lint discuss why it’s so important, and how to achieve it. This is a continuation of their series on memberships, a topic on which the two are experts.
What churn is and why retention is a big deal
Churn, or the attrition rate of members, is an important consideration if you want to run a membership. If you don’t keep your members, you will not have a membership.
If too many people join your membership only to leave, you’re constantly pressured to keep selling. It’s like pouring water into a leaky bucket.
In terms of metrics, if you had 10 percent of your customers leave every month, by the end of the year, in fact by month 10, every single person will have left. Churn is really the ultimate ratio of how many people come in, versus how many people stay. And you need the number to slowly increase or at least maintain if you want the membership model to work.
According to Jay Abraham, to make money you need to A, make more sales; B, sell for higher dollar value amount, or C, keep people buying longer. Customer retention is concerned with C – how can you increase the length of time people stay with you, and thus the number of times they pay?
If your members are paying you annually, you ideally want 50 percent of them to stay in a year. For a monthly program, you really need to get your churn under five percent per month, or 60 percent. If you can get monthly churn down to two percent, you’ve got a fantastic membership. Bring it down to one, and you’re a god.
As an owner of a software business, John is well-versed in controlling customer churn. Any subscription-based business aims to attract people and, more importantly, not lose them.
The holy grail of a membership site, as talked about in a previous episode, is that freedom that you get because you have that ongoing predictable revenue coming in. And that only works if it’s predictable, and it’s consistent.
The typical membership price point, says John, runs rather low – say, 20 to 200 bucks. Higher-ticket products like courses might sell at $1,000 to $10,000. But of course the safety of recurring income is achieved by the membership.
“If you keep on losing people, you’re just creating a job for yourself.”
Now, if you keep losing people, you’re just creating a job for yourself. You need to get new sales all the time. And what you have is not a business, but more like selling an info product on a payment plan. An oft-quoted statistic is three months’ retention for memberships. That’s horrific churn, something like 40 percent.
When customers stay, you don’t need to be constantly getting new ones. You can spend your time and energy looking after the people you’ve already got.
So there’s a few fundamentals. If you’re pricing high and have only a few members, just one person leaving can decimate your cash flow. There are actually businesses with three or four customers paying $5,000 each. Should one leave, it’d really hurt.
If you’ve got hundreds of customers paying low-ticket, it won’t hurt to lose one. The trouble is if most people leave – a few months and you have a problem.
James aims for two percent churn or less. He has had some people stay with him for 10 years, one of whom just recently posted that milestone in the forum.
You can do everything else right in your membership – the perfect name, an offer that converts, getting people results. But if you don’t work on retention, it’s all for nothing. You’re constantly back to square one.
First off: how do you onboard people?
The task of reducing churn starts with the onboarding. You want someone coming on board to feel they’ve made a good decision, giving you their money. And to do that, says James, you want to get personalized.
He had a new client just recently join the intensive level of SuperFastBusiness. He’d posted his backstory privately to James and then came to his first live group call.
Also on the call were members of two or three months’ standing, one of whom had had the same problems as the new guy when he joined – too many options, no clarity on his target customer, no name for his product, no idea how to promote or deliver.
James had solved these issues for that client over the past months, and he was now killing it in the B2B space. The new customer heard this, and James saw him take on a look of excitement and relief. That onboarding obviously reassured him that he was in the right place.
What happens when you join KLEQ
It’s a matter of delivering the value and matching the promise on your sales page, says John.
In the case of KLEQ, there’s a lot that the product can do, from creating and selling online courses and memberships to running coaching programs to building various campaigns, webinars and launches or even putting together an affiliate system. It can be overwhelming to a new member.
As the membership owner, it’s John’s job to provide a good onboarding process, an introduction. So put yourself in the customer’s shoes, he says, look at things like a complete beginner. What should they do first? In the case of KLEQ, first thing would be to activate their license.
Then over the next days, John and his team show them how to build a campaign with one click. Say they want a list-building campaign, a product launch funnel, a webinar – they show them the steps. They also show where to get more training.
There’s an email sequence introducing different features of the product – how to set up a shopping cart, how to accept payments, etc. It’s all guided, and all aimed at helping them understand the value that they signed up for, and to immediately try to get them a result.
“Trying to get a first result straight away is very important.”
That’s very important, says John, trying to get a first result straight away. In James’s case, he gave clarity, which is super powerful.
Once the member knows they’re in the right place, they can follow the steps that are laid out for them, and start getting results. The more results they get, the happier they are with the product, and the more likely they are to stay.
What do your members want and need?
Another step to increase retention, says John, is to do things your members want – things that the majority if them will benefit from and be happy to stay for. With KLEQ, for instance, if a member wants a specific feature that would be of value to many, they build it in.
John could be reading off James’s notes. Literally tactic number two on his sheet is, add training based on your membership pulse. It’s about listening to your members, not creating stuff according to your own whim. It’s making something that you know your audience needs right now, because you’re tuned in.
James, for instance, has a specific training on retention inside SuperFastBusiness, because he knows it affects every member. And that training is inside his Profitable Membership training course, also available at SuperFastResults.com if you want just the course.
Just recently on a call, someone told James they wanted their customers to intermingle and socialize. James recommended a social wall, one of the features he just happened to request from John in KLEQ, which now benefits many KLEQ users.
“Find out the challenge your customers are having, and solve it for them.”
Showing them that what you do works
Tactic number three is to show proof of success. One of the best ways James has helped members stick around is to prove to them that not only are others getting results, but that they are too. Sound odd? James says if he can prove to a customer that they are getting results, which they sometimes take for granted, then they realize they’re actually benefiting from being in his community.
As mentioned, James’s member of 10 years posted about his stay in the SuperFastBusiness forum, reflecting on his journey and lessons he’d learned. It was powerful reading for other members, and powerful for James, who felt he’d delivered what he set out to achieve. But it was probably the most powerful for the member who wrote it, because he was able to reconcile the time and money he’d invested, and realize it was worth it.
John relates this to some of the features in KLEQ. Tracking allows his customers to see the progress of their funnels, the conversion rates and the like. At the same time, a lot of his members have their own memberships, where they can implement gamification features to reinforce the sense of achievement their users experience as they go through their membership or course. A progress bar, say, or music or other feedback to reward them when they complete a level.
Keeping your customers engaged and coming back
Another strategy in terms of retention, says John, is to keep people engaged.
After the initial excitement of joining a membership, people can get distracted, or lose interest. When that happens, what you need is to bring them back and remind them of the value inside.
One of the ways James does this is through a weekly email, highlighting the top posts in the membership forum.
John, on the other hand, has an app built in with KLEQ that members can add to their membership site. Installed in one’s phone, it delivers notifications of what happens in the membership – someone liked your comment? Replied to your social wall post? A message from your coach? You’re up to date on it all.
Not using the app? That’s fine. There are built-in desktop and email notifications to bring people back.
And a great thing about memberships like SuperFastBusiness is the bonds people form. People active in the community develop an interest not just in the training but in the relationships, the network.
“Re-engaging your members is extremely important.”
So re-engaging your members is extremely important. You can also do this, says James, by asking for customer input. What questions can you address during training? And after the training, Here’s the session, we recorded it for you.
Up till last year, one huge thing they did was live events. It was like the glue that stuck things together, and it will be great when they’re an option again.
How support and follow-up affect retention
Leverage your support team, suggests James. Make sure they’re responsive, that you address concerns quickly. Nothing’s more frustrating for a customer than losing their login, or if they can’t access a site, or they’ve forgotten their email or don’t know how much they’re paying, or need to change their credit card. These things happen.
And follow-up is almost number one after getting a result for a customer, which is the ultimate retention strategy. If someone stops engaging or logging in, you want to send them a follow-up sequence (also called a slipping-away sequence), when they’re just drifting off.
James’s typical follow up is simply, Hey, John, are you okay? It’s enough to show he cares, and to spark a conversation where he can get good feedback about the membership.
People also reengage through the weekly newsletter, which about 65 to 80 percent will open.
Bringing them back after they’ve left
One or two people, upon receiving the newsletter, will want to cancel. And to that, James always asks, How can I improve? People have various reasons – a change of job or industry, confusion, occupation with something else. It’s usually very polite. Some say they still love the membership, and will be back. And a lot of people do return.
That’s the other thing. If you don’t burn your bridges, if you don’t make it too hard for people to leave, then you will get people back. Don’t think that goodbye is forever. James has had people come back after two, three, four, five years. And he makes it comfortable for them to come back.
As a coach, too, he doesn’t beat himself up personally when someone leaves. This is a problem owners can have when they’re new. People are not rejecting you. Maybe you can take it as an improvement suggestion – how could you have made it better for that person so that they would have stayed? If you could have done something better, but you didn’t, then make it better for the next person.
Another tip is to have tools or resources inside the membership that are just not available anywhere else, that it would be difficult for someone to go without. An example is a software tool in SuperFastBusiness where you can put in your membership details, and it will tell you what your profit will be each year, allowing for churn, allowing for trials, allowing for all sorts of other variables, how many members you add, what your conversion rate is, and so forth.
The importance of just showing up
John also puts great weight on providing that personal touch, that personal coaching, replying personally, which is actually easy to do, but unbelievably valuable. These days, a lot of gurus are pitching their membership sites, sites where they’re never present.
If you just show up inside your own membership site,says John, you’ll be far ahead compared to everyone else. It will be some work. You may have to put in a few hours a day. But it’s your business. You’re building your brand. And you need to do what you promised, which is help people get results.
If you feel them slipping away…
John wants to to touch back on the slipping-away sequence James mentioned. It’s something they also do – if someone doesn’t activate their license, or doesn’t log in in X amount of days, they follow up: Hey, how can we help?
It’s something their members can do now as well, because it’s built into KLEQ. So if someone hasn’t logged into the members’ area in X days, it will automatically add a tag in your emailing system. You can then fire up any email sequence that you want automatically, something along the lines of, Hey, is everything okay? How can we help?
Find and champion your leaders
And while you do have your finger on the pulse and are showing up, says James, you’ll have a chance to spot the leaders in your community. In any group, there will be people who go above and beyond or stand out for good reasons. They’ll be the ones speaking at conferences, or continually submitting great resources for your members, without ever expecting anything back.
Champion your leaders, James says. Find and promote them. They are a perfect example of members who get it. They’re the right fit, they do a good job, they post great content, they support and nurture others. These people succeed, and karma looks after them.
The episode in a nutshell
Focus on keeping customers. That’s really the point of this episode. If you can do that, and you have an offer that converts, you’ve got magic.
To do this:
Look out for the next episode in this series, on advanced membership tactics. This will be for anyone who already has a membership that’s going well, that they want to just tune. James and John will be sharing what they’ve learned in their own careers as membership owners.
And if you’re interested in a feature-packed, all-in-one solution for your membership, look up John at KLEQ