The power of the membership model is twofold. Most importantly, it conveys the sense of a relationship between an organization and its constituents or customers. Membership fosters engagement, trust, and loyalty.
But the second benefit of membership for many organizations is that it encourages financial continuity. Whether someone is a member of an association, a church, or a charity there typically is a projectable retention rate and income stream from members.
The renewal income stream of this concept is more and more being built into almost every aspect of our economy today. Whether it is cell phone contracts, music streaming, or your cable bill, this annual or monthly agreement is now part of many of our transactions.
The Harvard Business Review reports that this continuity or subscription approach is now becoming a more regular practice even in the retail industry. It meets two important customer needs – convenience and simplifying the many choices that a customer has walking into a store. HBR says that retailers who move in this direction “forge deeper relationships with customers, gain access to valuable consumer demographic data, tap a recurring revenue stream, and meet a growing consumer demand for both convenience and curation.”
One example of this retail subscription is the Dollar Shave Club which allows you to choose your blade and have regular delivery at a frequency you select. The subscription continues non-stop until you take the pro-active step to cancel.
There are opportunities for membership organizations to increase this continuity with members. Our research shows that many associations are moving from an opt-in renewal process to and opt-out method through automatic credit card renewals and regular installment payments. The Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report highlights that 37% of individual membership associations offer some type of installment renewal options and 32% offer automatic annual credit card renewal options.
With these automated renewal methods, a member must cancel an active credit card in order to discontinue membership instead of having to make a specific renewal decision.
More than just convenience of delivery, membership organizations enjoy the power of a relationship with a member. Building a solid relationship with members is the primary goal for an association. But adding continuity into as many products and services in this relationship is proving to make great economic sense in almost every sector of the economy.
Posted by Tony Rossell