Feeling festive: How to build your membership during the holidays

How to build your membership during the holidays

‘Tis the season! The build-up to Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the beginning of a new year is always a great time to promote your products and services to a new audience as well as thank your existing customers for their support.

This thanks can come in the form of social media shoutouts as well as written features or podcast interviews – here at Memberful, we’re doing all three! – as well as offering discounts and perks. This in turn will improve your acquisition and retention rates, reducing the number of people canceling their memberships (often known as churn).

Here are a handful of ways you can use Memberful to spread some holiday cheer to your existing and potential customers:

Offer more with upgrades

Let’s say your customers are loving your content and want to feel more of a connection to your brand and community. They might want to unlock more exclusive content or become more active in your online forum.

Take Jon Ostrower for example: readers of his aviation news membership site The Air Current might want to move from a Personal Annual Subscription, paying $299/year for access to digital events, to an Individual Subscription - Business Use, paying $795/year with extra benefits such as access to a data visualization library.

How to build your membership - The Air Current The Air Current membership page

This is easy with Memberful because our membership plans can be gathered into Plan Groups, which means your members will be able to easily upgrade, downgrade, or crossgrade between your membership offerings in the same Plan Group. (For your members’ peace of mind, Plan Groups also prevent members from accidentally subscribing to more than one Plan at a time since they can only subscribe to one Plan in a Plan Group.)

When a member changes Plans, including Plans with trials, they Upgrade, Downgrade (or Crossgrade). When a member upgrades their Plan, they are immediately charged a prorated amount for the upgrade; when they downgrade, they will be charged the new price at the next renewal date.

Create a coupon/discount

Coupon codes offer easy ways to incentivize new members to join, retain existing members and win back members who may have canceled. When it comes to Memberful, there are three types of coupon:

  • One-time: Applied once, then removed (the member will pay full price for future renewals)
  • Recurring: Applied to a subscription indefinitely (unless removed by staff).
  • Limited: Applied to a subscription a limited number of times, then removed. (If applied at checkout, includes initial purchase and renewals.)

For example, Cherie Hu offers coupons and discounts on her membership to her music tech membership site Water and Music. Members enjoy access to a private Discord server, exclusive in-depth articles and interviews.

Memberful coupons can take the form of a percentage reduction (such as 15% off) or an absolute amount of discount (such as $1/month). You might also like to choose a Start Date and End Date for the coupon – perhaps specifically over Black Friday weekend – as well as a maximum number of redemptions such as a deal where only the first 100 people get a discount. Exclusivity sells!

Case study: Retention discounts

At Memberful, we've formulated a proven strategy, which you can implement immediately, to reduce churn for membership business owners. Take a look at the below table - these figures are for people who have already registered their intention to move away from your membership:

Retention discounts

These numbers might look agressive at first glance, but that is deliberate: the cost of acquiring a new customer is usually much higher than retaining an existing one. These discounts aim to raise the perceived value of the membership back up to the level it was at when that member first joined. In our experience, anyone who implements these levels of retention discount can expect to see a 30% reduction in customer churn -- although our team has seen levels approach even 50%.

With these strategies in place, and with all else being equal, by the end of the third year your membership revenue will be 22-25% higher than it would have been had the customer continued with cancelling their membership.

To read more about Memberful's retention discounts feature, see our article on how to Send targeted offers to win back members before they churn.

Start a referral program

It’s always great to show your gratitude by offering rewards to members who encourage other people to join your membership program. These rewards come in the form of a discount that will be applied to that member’s active subscription.

Memberful gives you a choice of discount amount and how many people must have been referred by a member before they’ll receive the discount. Paid transactions such as purchasing a paid plan, signing up for a paid trial, making the first payment after a free trial all count towards this referral effort. You can also define what that reward will be: a percentage-based discount or an amount-based discount.

Offer teaser content with a paid trial

Earlier this year, we launched our paid trials feature that gives people the chance to experience what it’s like to be a member in your community before taking the leap and making the full financial commitment. People are able to become a paying member temporarily, and ‘try before they buy.’

For example, cookbook author and recipe developer Molly Baz lets customers try out her members-only space The Club by Molly Baz, where she shares her newest recipes, giveaways and discounts for just $0.99 for the first week. This goes up to $5 per month once the trial period is complete.

Until recently, you could offer a free trial to potential members (with or without requiring a credit card), which then converted to the full membership price after a set number of days. This is still available as an option, but we’ve expanded upon this feature and given our customers the ability to charge for their trials.

In your Memberful Dashboard, paid trials look like a simple extension of the free trial feature. You can now set a price for the duration of the trial, which then converts to the full plan price when the trial expires.

Add something new

Maybe the festive season is the time to add a new offering to your community? Membership businesses rely on retention – “people come to you for the product or service but stay for the community”. Getting your audience invested in the brand, and the community around it, is one of the main reasons membership businesses exist.

A great way to keep your audience consistently engaged is by setting up an interactive forum or discussion platform. These are usually separate from the more traditional social media platforms such as a Facebook Page/Group - they tend to offer exclusive, special access only to premium/paying members. They tend to attract positive and constructive conversation because people are paying to be there: a members-only forum lets people discuss ideas and trade tips.

Katalina Mayorga of El Camino Travel says that their community forum is so curated and friendly that it’s even taken on a strong ‘pay it forward’ quality where people respond and say, ‘Oh my gosh, you guys were so helpful. I want to make sure I'm as helpful as possible too.’

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