Grow your Membership through Winback Marketing

Grow Your Membership Through Winback Marketing Image

Your members are your chapter’s raison d’etre, your reason for being. Well, it’s probably a close race between them and the industry you support; however, without a steady stream of new and renewing members, your chapter can’t survive, nor can you support your industry.

You probably have a good handle on getting new members and keeping the ones you have, but what’s your plan for reengaging those members who’ve left? Do you let them go and forget they were ever members, or do you have a plan for trying to bring them back?

If you’re not familiar with the term “winback marketing,” you should be. Winback marketing focuses on reaching those members who’ve left your chapter, with the goal of bringing them back. And, for a number of simple reasons, a winback marketing plan can be highly successful.

Former members:

  1. Already know your organization and the benefits you offer, which means you can skip the initial brand awareness and education you use with new prospects. This reduces the number of times you need to contact them and decreases your costs to market to them.
  2. Joined your chapter for a reason and there’s a good chance you can still meet those needs.
  3. Are easier to contact, because you already have their contact information, and more than likely that includes their email opt-in permission.

Here are some ideas for regaining those members who’ve left your chapter.

  1. Target their reasons for joining. Was it for networking? Education? Advocacy? Review your survey results to gather that information and include reminders in your winback communications of what you offer related to meeting those needs.
  2. Let them return to an event for free. We don’t recommend offering event discounts to former members, as discounts have been shown to decrease the perceived value of events. Instead, show you value them by offering vouchers to future meetings or educational sessions.
  3. Address their specific reasons for leaving. There may be a reason that you’re not aware of, and you won’t know unless you ask. Perhaps your monthly meeting location was too far for them, or maybe worse, in all their time as members, no one from the board ever spoke to them. Include phone calls and surveys as part of your winback marketing to find out why the person left. Then, immediately or in a follow up communication, show how you’ve overcome (or are willing to overcome) that issue.
  4. Use multiple marketing channels. Since they were already members, you probably have multiple ways to contact them, including phone numbers, email addresses and Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Everyone responds differently to marketing – some people prefer email, while others phone calls, or even texts – so your plan should allow for contact through a variety of channels.
  5. Tell them about all the shiny new things you’ve been doing since they left. There’s a chance they left because they were bored, or they felt their needs were no longer being met. Perhaps they left for something as simple as not allowing event registration online, but now you do. If you can better meet those needs now, or will in the future, tell them.

As part of your winback program, you need to understand why your members are leaving. Are their needs being better met elsewhere? Are they jaded with your offerings? Are you too expensive? Survey your lapsed members or complete exit interviews as you learn people won’t be returning, to learn the specifics. Even if they don’t return, you’ve gained information that will allow you to better develop your chapter.

How much time should you spend on winback marketing?

There are no real rules when it comes to how much of your effort should be spent on winback marketing. If your retention or conversions are strong, maybe you don’t need to focus as much on reengaging former members. But if you’re struggling with renewals, it’s time to take a look at your list of former members.

Don’t forget about your current membership renewal program

Yes, it’s important and easy to focus on former members. But it is also critical to send out regular membership renewal communications and well in advance of members’ expiration dates. When chapters haven’t sent out regular membership communications, some have seen their membership decrease as much as fifty percent. 

Winback marketing campaigns are easy to start, based on all that you already know about those you’re targeting. When you market to this group, you’re using data and information you already have, unlike what it takes to bring on a new member. Whatever your plan, stay connected to your former members and reach out to them regularly. You never know when you’ll target one with just what they need to hear to rejoin.

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