There is a vast gulf between a renewal reminder process that is good and a renewal reminder that is effective. To simply stop at being good – that is, sending an email just enticing enough for users to open and follow a link – is to do your members and your own efforts a disservice.

You should have several goals for your process: not only should it mark the start of your member’s efforts, but it should help minimize those efforts – and your own!

So what are those goals? Well, we’ll start with some that an ideal renewal reminder email needs to achieve:

-Reduces the steps between opening the email and completing renewal

-Ties into automated payment and processing

-Translates the user submission into an updated membership record

A theme we repeat often here is that the more time you save during membership management tasks gives you more time to actually engage them. There’s nothing but productivity to be found in taking another look at the way you do renewal reminders.

Read on for our advice on designing and sending effective renewal reminders:, and for improving what comes after:

1 – Success Starts with a Subject Line

The first step in keeping your member on board with your organization is making sure they look at your emails in the first place. If your subject line doesn’t convince them to click, your effort is dead in the water, so writing your subject line needs care.

The subject line is a small part of the email — but a major part of its success, so respecting just how important it is and investing time in improving it will undoubtedly increase your open rates. We’ve got a few ideas to share on the matter.

Keep It Brief

There’s a lot of other text in the typical inbox, all of it competing for your members’ attention. You need to get your point across quickly and clearly; the reader needs to be able to instantly glean that this message is about taking action to renew their membership.

Make It Compelling

We’ve covered the basics on this a few times in our content on successful email campaigns: you need to give an obvious prompt to the reader. They should be encouraged by your subject line to act and act quickly.

There are a few ways to encourage them: personalizing the email to include their first name works wonders as an attention-grabber and an emotional appeal.

Suggesting urgency is another way to do it: give them a limited window before the fee goes up: “Renew here to avoid late fees – three days left”.

Of course, you can always go the opposite route: frame it as a discount if they act now, instead of a fee for being late, and turn it into a promotion.

2 – Membership Management Software: Because It Works

An email client alone won’t cut it here. Membership management software (MMS) can take a reader from the click-through to the end of their renewal. Some tips to bear in mind when using it:

Automate Your Profile Updates

Linking payment processing to automated renewal processes means you can skip the step of editing the account to update a membership status.

Encourage Credit Card Use

One of the most significant advantages of membership management software is how effortless they make processing credit card payments. They’ll always be easier than cash or cheques, no matter what platform you’re using, but MMS widens this gap even more: credit cards are easier and less-time consuming for the member, and the related payment processing is easy to automate.

When processing becomes automatic, every renewal becomes far less of a tax in tears, sweat, and paperwork, so nudging your members towards credit card payment is beneficial for everyone.

3 – Think About Convenience

These steps are all designed to, well, make for fewer steps. Besides the obvious wisdom in making your job easier, here’s why making the whole process more convenient helps you:

Eliminate Human Error

Fatigue is real, as inconvenient as it may be. The more work each new renewal adds to someone’s workload, the more likely they are to get fatigued and make a mistake. The consequences of that mistake can be anywhere from minor to disastrous, and it’s best to avoid it in the first place.

Fewer Steps, Better Odds

There is no way to add an extra step to a process while improving the odds that the process will get done. That’s a fact. Every extra step is an opportunity for someone to get bored, or frustrated – or interrupted!

The ideal workflow you can offer them is this:

  • Open email
  • Click-through to renewal form
  • Enter credit card details
  • Opt-in to automated recurring billing
  • Click ‘Submit’

A good membership management software suite will make it easy to build a reminder that leads into this sort of workflow. Remove unnecessary steps from the process and you will greatly increase the odds that your message will do what it’s meant to.

Saving Time

This is about making sure you can get all the way through the process, too, so the less time you need to devote to it, the better. In an ideal setup, the processing of a due payment should immediately trigger a few things automatically:

  • Update the member’s profile
  • Close the invoice for the member’s dues
  • Refresh credentials and access for the next year
  • Create and send a receipt

4 – Automated Recurring Billing: Now Is the Time

If your members are not using automated recurring billing (ARB), the renewal form you link them is your best opportunity to get them on board with an option to opt in. Everybody wins when your members don’t have to act in order to renew their memberships: their life is easier, so is yours, and they’ll never forget a dues payment.

5 – Keeping in Touch

Much like how you should use your renewal form to push ARB, you should also take it as an opportunity to ask your members whether their contact information has changed in the last year. Instead of finding out when an email goes unanswered or mail gets sent back, be proactive – when you get an opportunity to leverage your members’ attention, use it!

Their eyes are on your renewal form now, as a matter of mutual benefit, so get a little bit more mutual benefit out of the process by giving them fields where they can choose to enter any new contact information.

Obviously, don’t make them fill in anything that hasn’t changed – remember part 3 of this article. Show them what you have on file, and give them a chance to make changes before submission. It’s a nearly cost-free way to save yourself time and effort later in the year.

Bring Them Back, Again and Again

Your renewal reminder email, as small a step as it seems, needs to be designed with care and patience; done wrong, it’s a waste of more time than just your own, but done right, it becomes an immensely valuable tool in keeping your members on board.

Making the processes behind renewals easy will pay for itself over and over, and membership management software goes a long way towards achieving many of these goals. We hope that Member365 proves to be just the platform you choose to streamline your renewal season from here on out.