Membership and subscription-driven organisations are increasingly looking to the power of data to drive up renewal rates. Baseball outfit the Milwaukee Brewers, for example, whose cutting-edge analytics (as profiled by Associations Now) inform how likely each season-ticket holder is to sign up for the following year.

But profiling and segmenting customers is only part of the process. How do you then convince them with the right message at the right time, through the most appropriate channels?

Start by considering these factors.


Getting the content of communications right is key. For customers at risk of leaving, the most effective messaging reminds them how much they mean to the organisation as a valued customer, and the benefits they receive as one.

The further towards the ‘more likely to renew’ end of the scale, the simpler the message should be. Combined with a clear and obvious call-to-action, a ‘less is more’ approach reduces opportunities for second thoughts.


Thinking carefully about the influence of design is also vital, particularly with channels such as direct mail and email. Sports teams like the Brewers can pique the interest with powerful, emotional imagery. For price-led offers, increasing the urgency and frequency of call-to-actions works well.

How and when did members/subscribers join? For sign-ups around a particular season, occasion or event, designing comms with a nod to this can trigger positive emotions.

Above all, test everything, from subtle design differences to complete layout. What performs best?


Not so much when to communicate, but the frequency. Segmenting members according to their length of subscription can be effective. The shorter the cycle, the more frequently they need a nudge.

For all renewals, offering different deals (early bird, special rate etc.) according to length of time left keeps things fresh. When the clock is running down, increasing frequency of contact is a must, showing the subscriber or member how much they’re valued.

“The shorter the cycle, the more frequently they need a nudge.”

If it doesn’t happen, best to wait a while before any winback activity after all that contact.


Flexibility on price is advisable to convince those on the fence. If that’s not an option, can something of value be offered to sweeten the deal? A gift, maybe?

A crucial consideration is to make sure offers are consistent across all channels. Promoting a ‘unique’ 20% off code is no use if the same (or better) offer is available elsewhere!


Different channels work better than others for certain customer groups, particularly if segmenting by age. Older generations typically react better to traditional comms like direct mail, for instance.

Whoever it is, a handy tip is to track how each member initially comes on board, and use that as the primary channel for their renewal efforts. Where this fails, using a combination (DM, email, telemarketing) reinforces that sense of urgency and feeling valued.

“Older generations typically react better to traditional comms like direct mail”

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