Seven Membership Growth and Retention Strategies

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Companies like Netflix made the subscription/membership model mainstream, and even part-time entrepreneurs like podcasters or craftspeople can employ memberships successfully. But just because it's popular doesn't mean it's easy.


Why Membership Growth and Retention is Important

At its most basic, membership growth and retention is about keeping your project healthy. Since income comes directly from members on a recurring basis, keeping the ones you have is just as important as getting new ones.

Forbes states it will cost "four to five times more" to win over a new member than it will hold on to an existing one, and if you lose more members each month than you gain, the business is unsustainable. 

Side note: If you need to manage users in a membership model, Cause Machine is an all-in-one platform to create and scale your member growth and retention strategy. Set up your trial.


7 Strategies for Membership Growth and Retention

1. Create Amazing Content

Whether it's podcasts, online learning, or a jelly-of-the-month club, all membership-based businesses sell content – so you better make it fresh. Create a membership website that serves your content and value to members. It should be relevant to your audience, unique to you, and above all useful. This makes members feel educated and empowered. Make sure to find the right frequency for sharing content (not too much, and not too little), and consider throwing in extras like downloadable freebies and how-to's.

Key Notes:

  • Your content should give VALUE to members.
  • Optimize your content for sharability and search engines.
  • Deliver content based on your user's appetite.


2. Make Your Membership Experience Unique

As the subscription/membership market booms, consumers can find almost anything they want – so your content and value offering need to stand apart. To optimize membership growth and retention, find an under-served group and cater directly to them. Avoid the temptation of trying to be everything to everyone.

Key Notes:

  • Deploy effective email marketing and nurture strategies.
  • Offer free resources and content as lead generators.
  • Do good market research, and identify how your offer stands out.


3. Build A Community

The ironic part of this hyper-connected age is that people crave actual connection more than ever, and they often seek to satisfy that need with a membership. To get them interested and keep them coming back, make sure your group becomes a community. Strong member engagement is the key. Get the members engaged with great content, and with each other. 

Key Notes:

  • Make members feel like more than customers.
  • Encourage members to make connections at virtual or hybrid events.
  • Create membership tiers so your most committed members get the best experience.


4. Lean Into Creativity

Creativity is a purpose of life, and it should be a regular feature of your member community, too. On top of regularly scheduled content, invest in bonus content relevant to your group and share with no extra charge. Maybe you can turn a frequently-asked-question into a group challenge and offer a prize for the member who wins. Or, bring in a guest speaker who the group would not usually have access to.

Key Notes:

  • Maintain content consistency, but make it a point to surprise members with valuable additions.
  • Create fun challenges out of common questions or concerns.
  • Invite guest speakers or add special events.


5. Library Card

Believe it or not, just making your old content available can drive membership growth and retention. Create a library of past lessons, videos, or whatever your content is centered around, and make sure members can always go back and access it. It sounds simple, but having a bank of resources at their fingertips can inspire some to keep their membership going.

Key Notes:

  • Continued access to past lessons and other resources is a benefit 
  • Create and maintain a library members can come back to
  • Something else here


6. Optimize Member Value

Aside from structuring and executing quality content, another important thing to consider is your membership structure. Most subscriptions run on a monthly payment – but in some cases, a longer-term or annual payment option is better.

Many groups are focused on personal transformation (like healthy living or learning a new language). Since it could take a full year or more to reach the goal, making the commitment up front could dissuade some from giving up half way through.

Key Notes:

  • Select a payment structure that fits the group's focus.
  • Structure value based on each 'tier' or subscription level; higher commitment means more exclusive perks.
  • Become the best in your space.


7. Give Members What They Want

Last but not least, go ahead and ask people what they want. Yeah, it's that simple. Membership growth and retention hinges on serving customers in a way that helps them win and win big! But while you will get rewarded for figuring out how to do that, you don't get extra credit for guessing. First, get to know your members. Then, pay close attention to crucial feedback as you launch new products or phases of your offering.

Key Notes:

  • Find out what your members really want.
  • Pay close attention to feedback on content, at events, or on your platform.
  • Send surveys asking specific questions; fill that need!


The membership model is just as effective as it is popular. You can build a thriving business from scratch, or transition an existing one to a more stable revenue stream. Try these membership growth and retention tips to keep yours running smoothly.



Grow Members with Cause Machine

Starting with a community engagement strategy is the secret to building a successful organization in the long term. Cause Machine helps organizations build the plan of engaging a community well and then begin mapping out the technology to help support that strategy. We're sure that you'll find some great resources and powerful tools in Cause Machine to better engage your community. Learn how it can work for you here.

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