7 Membership Retention Strategies for Your Website

membership retention strategies
John Hughes
Last Updated: 21/03/24

Are you worried about losing premium members? Even when you offer top-notch subscription products or services, membership retention can be challenging for subscription businesses.

But, if you implement some tried-and-true membership retention strategies, your customers will be more likely to renew their subscriptions. For instance, you can offer membership tiers for increased flexibility, or create a mailing list to make sure people don’t miss out on time-sensitive perks.

In this post, we’ll start by discussing the importance of membership retention. Then, we’ll share seven ideas to help you hold on to your members. Finally, we’ll show you how the Paid Member Subscriptions plugin can make this easier. Let’s get to it!

What Is Membership Retention? (And Why It’s Important)

Before we dive in to some of the best membership retention strategies, let’s go over the basics. What is membership retention?

You’ve probably already heard of plain customer retention, which measures the rates of returning customers in a given period. But, when it comes to membership retention, this refers to customers who keep their membership active month after month (or year after year).

Retention is especially crucial for membership businesses. That’s because subscriptions might be your company’s main revenue stream. What’s more, research shows that acquiring new customers can cost five to seven times more than retaining old ones.

As such, if you want your business to succeed (and be more profitable), you’ll need to actively work to improve membership retention.

Generally speaking, the most effective way to do this is to provide members with an excellent user experience. But, there are also some specific membership retention strategies that can be especially effective.

7 Membership Retention Strategies for Your Website

Now, let’s go over some of the best membership retention ideas to boost your online business!

1. Offer Membership Tiers

If you want to keep customers coming back, it’s a good idea to account for some variation in their level of commitment and interest in your business. To be more flexible, you can offer different membership tiers:

The Atlantic magazine offers multiple subscription tiers, which can help improve membership retention.

For instance, many online magazines have different membership tiers, with an option to get the print version of the publication.

Similarly, when it comes to subscription memberships like BarkBox, it can be useful to offer multiple tiers to provide different levels of goods:

BarkBox also offers multiple membership tiers

In this case, customers can downgrade to a half size box if they discover the full size is too much for their pet. As you can see, the biggest BarkBox plan is called the “Super Chewer”.

If appropriate, you might also want to use creative membership level names to strengthen your branding.

2. Provide New and Valuable Content

For many online subscription businesses, the main product is content. Therefore, one of the most effective ways to build membership loyalty is to consistently provide new and valuable material.

This can be anything from recipes for an exclusive food blog to images for a resource library like Pixistock:

Pixistock website

With this in mind, you might want to create a content calendar to help you keep track of what you’re publishing and when. And, as always, be sure you’re providing genuine value to your members.

While repurposing content can be useful in some cases, you’ll want to make sure you’re providing fresh and original material for your paying members.

3. Create a Mailing List

If your premium members are unaware of their membership perks, they may be less likely to renew their subscription. So, creating a mailing list for improved communication can be another excellent way to boost membership retention.

This way, you can notify members via email about timely benefits such as one-time virtual events. Or, you can let them know about fresh and timely blog content, like your exclusive holiday recipes or hosting ideas.

To get your mailing list started, you’ll need to create a contact form and place it somewhere on your website. Then, you can plan to send emails to members to keep them in-the-know about everything from new products to fresh member discounts:

Erewhon monthly marketing email.

Alternatively, you could even create a regular newsletter for each membership tier, informing them periodically of any new or time-sensitive offerings or perks.

4. Collect Customer Feedback

Ultimately, the key to membership retention is providing an excellent user experience. However, if you don’t ask your members about their viewpoint of your business, it will be hard to know if you’re achieving that.

As such, collecting customer feedback is crucial if you want to hold on to your members. Once you do, you can consider any recurring pain points or complaints, and then take actions to prevent them. Similarly, if you receive positive feedback about certain aspects of your business, you can double down on those efforts.

You can easily collect customer feedback by creating an email campaign for this purpose. Or, you can program automatic emails to be sent after members complete certain actions, like attending a webinar or other event.

5. Offer Great Customer Support

Offering excellent support is also key to customer retention, for any type of business. Therefore, if you don’t already offer comprehensive customer support, now might be the time to consider enhancing this element of your business.

At a minimum, you’ll want to provide members with a ticketing system (i.e. a contact form), where they can get in touch with you when they run into issues:

Cozmoslabs customer support ticket form

Make sure to include the essential fields, like first name and last name, as well as a space for inquiries.

In addition to a ticketing system, you’ll want to offer members other ways to get in touch with you, such as a phone line or chatbot. This may seem challenging if your business is on the smaller side, but you can find plenty AI tools to help you out with customer support.

If you already offer a multichannel approach to customer support, consider how you can improve it in other ways. For example, you can aim to respond faster to members, or resolve their issues sooner.

6. Lower Renewal Rates

Pricing your membership plans appropriately is a crucial part of your business. You’ll want to ensure that your target audience can afford your subscription service, but you’ll also need to pick a price that gives you a solid profit margin.

But, as we mentioned previously, acquiring a new customer is much more expensive than retaining an old one. Therefore, you might want to try lowering your renewal rates.

Members who are on the fence about investing in your services, may be more inclined to renew if they know they are getting a deal. The key with this strategy is to ensure that you’re not lowering your prices so much that it negatively impacts your business.

7. Allow Refunds

Finally, if you’re genuinely interested in boosting membership retention, consider allowing refunds. Of course, this isn’t something you’ll want to do regularly, but there are some specific cases in which it can benefit your membership business.

One such example is if a customer wasn’t aware that their subscription was up for renewal, and they’ve enrolled in automatic payments. For pricier subscriptions, this can be an unpleasant surprise.

If you want to foster a reputation as an empathetic business, in that case, in that case, you might waive your policy on requiring a cancellation a certain amount of days in advance.

Or, let’s say a new member signed up for a higher tier membership by accident, and doesn’t realize their error until a few days later. In order to allow them to move down to the correct tier, you might need to issue a refund. You won’t want to scare them away by forcing them to pay the higher price due to an honest error.

Of course, there are plenty of other scenarios in which it may be reasonable to provide a refund to a potentially loyal customer, these are just a few examples.

How the Paid Member Subscriptions Plugin Can Help Boost Retention

At this point, you’re familiar with some of the most useful membership retention strategies. However, implementing them can be challenging without the right tools.

If you’re using WordPress, a plugin like Paid Member Subscriptions can make this a lot easier:

Paid Member Subscriptions Pro

Accept (recurring) payments, create subscription plans and restrict content on your website. Easily setup a WordPress membership site using Paid Member Subscriptions.

Get Paid Member Subscriptions

This powerful tool integrates with WooCommerce, and if you haven’t launched your membership business, it enables you to do so in just a few minutes.

If you already have a membership site, but want to try some of the membership retention ideas we mentioned above, Paid Member Subscriptions can help you.

Using the tool, you can easily design multiple membership tiers and create pricing tables. It also integrates seamlessly with Mailchimp by adding a mailing list opt-in field to your user registration form. So, it can help you grow your email list and stay in touch with your members.

What’s more, with Paid Member Subscriptions, you can effectively manage your restricted content based on membership tiers. For instance, you can use blocks or shortcodes to restrict partial content, which may even help nudge members to move up a tier.

On top of that, the tool can integrate with LearnDash, so it works for membership businesses that are centered around online courses.


Subscriptions provide the main source of revenue for membership businesses. And the cost of acquiring new customers is extremely high when compared to the price of retaining them. With this in mind, you’ll need to implement membership retention strategies in order to be successful.

For starters, you can offer membership tiers, so customers can try a different plan before cancelling. Additionally, to keep customers happy, you’ll want to request feedback (and address complaints) and provide top-notch customer support. It’s also a good idea to create a mailing list to better communicate with customers, and consistently provide them with valuable content. You can even lower renewal rates and allow refunds to further boost retention and protect your reputation.

Do you have any questions about these membership retention ideas? Let us know in the comments section below!

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