You’ve probably heard that membership websites are all the rage from your favorite marketing “guru”. Membership systems on the other hand are by no means new. Thousands of extremely successful businesses have been using them for many…many years. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons they’re so successful.
But if you can’t keep a member in your system over time then you’re certainly out of luck. Fortunately since there are other highly successful companies using membership systems you have the ability to see how they work and apply some of their successful systems into your own business.
One main strategy I’ve seen is simply adding extra steps to the cancellation process. This increases the likeliness for a member to at some point give up during the process. It’s not something I would do to my own customers, but it does work. When you’re selling an item on a website, you usually want to eliminate any extra steps and distractions in order to make that sale, so it makes sense that you may want to do the opposite to keep a member from leaving your system.
One company I’ve done business with required not only about one hour on hold waiting to get someone to answer the phone, but they also required information that I did not easily have on hand. Sometimes it’s something like a subscription number, sometimes it’s the email address and address information you signed up with. I’m sure they have it, but their policies may require they ask for this information.
A second company I’ve done business with required me to print a cancellation form from their website. Of course, they could probably easily implement an online form and make it a simpler process, but remember, this is a membership and they have to add steps. This suddenly required that I have it printed out. They also didn’t have a fax number, so I couldn’t fax it in. Interestingly enough though, and here’s a neat strategy… on their website they offered to give me the ability to “freeze” my account. This would allow me to keep my membership for $10 per month so if I decided to “unfreeze” my account, I would not have to pay the joining fee again. It was a second option to keep me in the system and it had a benefit.