How to Win Back Lapsed Members: Tips + Letter Templates

By Sayana Izmailova 

If your membership organization is like most, you likely have one simple goal in mind: grow your membership. You do this by attracting new members and getting your existing members to renew for another term. 

But what happens when a member doesn’t renew? It can feel like all that effort to grow your membership was for nothing — like you’re taking two steps forward and one step back.

Lapsed memberships are unfortunate, but here’s the good news: in many cases, you can still get them back. In fact, getting lapsed members to return to their membership is much easier and cheaper than trying to attract brand new members, and should be one of your key strategies in growing your membership. This is because these members are already familiar with your organization and have proven interest and willingness to pay for a membership. In most cases, they just need a little reminder of why they signed up in the first place and what they’d be missing if they don’t come back. 

In this post, we’ll go over what you can do to win back your lapsed members, as well as share three letter templates you can use to ask them to renew.

Let’s take a look! 

1. Send Out a Member Exit Survey

The first step to winning back a lapsed member is understanding why they left. Did they find the price too high? Were they too busy to enjoy the benefits? It could even be that they never meant to lapse, but simply forgot to pay their dues. 

Whatever the case may be, a great way to find out why they left is through a member exit survey. This can be a simple form with a few questions like: 

  • Why did you decide not to renew your membership?
  • What would have made your membership more beneficial?
  • What would encourage you to re-join?

Getting answers to these questions will not only help you understand what you could have done to keep this particular member, but it can also reveal concerns that other members could potentially share, as well. Proactively addressing these concerns will help you retain more members in the long run. 

Your member exit survey will be easy to fill out if you include multiple choice options. However, be sure to also include a place for lapsed members to write open comments, in case your options don’t cover the reason they left or they wish to express their concerns in more detail.  

If you find that the lapsed member’s concern was caused by misinformation or has a simple solution (or maybe they really did just forget to pay), you can even get in touch with them personally and encourage them to rejoin. 

Tip: Make it really easy for people who never meant to leave or have changed their minds to come back. This can be as simple as a button in the survey email that takes them to a page on your website where they can rejoin. 

2. Offer a Discount

For many people, a good deal is hard to pass up. Use that as part of your re-engagement strategy! What’s something valuable that would entice people to rejoin?

Here are a few offers you may want to consider:

  • A discount on membership
  • A discount on event registration
  • A free copy of your latest industry report (or some other valuable content piece)
  • A free webinar of their choice that quarter or year

Tip: To really get the ball rolling and get lapsed members to rejoin (rather than just reading your email and “thinking about it”), put a time limit on those offers. For example, If they want a discounted rate on your annual event, they must rejoin by the end of the month.

Check out the email below to see how the subscription service FabFitFun entices their lapsed members to come back. Not only do they offer an extra mystery bundle valued at $125 with every membership reactivation, but they make sure to clearly list the benefits recipients would miss out on if they don’t rejoin. 

Fabfitfun

3. Allow Them to Customize Their Membership

We live in a time where people don’t want to pay for products and services they don’t use. Think about how many people have cut cable in favor of services like Netflix or Hulu — no sense in paying for channels you never watch.

Is it possible that some of your lapsed members simply weren’t using all the benefits you offered and therefore, didn’t see the value in continuing to pay for their membership? There’s a simple fix to this — allow people to choose what they pay for. 

The easiest way to do this is by introducing several tiers of membership — some may be more expensive and offer more perks, while others may be more affordable and offer just the basics. A lapsed member may have left because of a high price tag, but they’ll likely consider coming back if they can continue to receive the benefits they found most useful while paying less. 

Tip: If you worry about everyone just choosing the lowest membership level, don’t! Remember, it all boils down to value. If you can put together packages that truly deliver membership value and are priced fairly, you’ll see plenty of members signing up even for the most expensive option. 

Check out this membership level chart from the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. Their tiers range from “Access” to “Leadership”, increasing in both the price and the number of benefits offered. This way, prospective members can choose a tier that’s right for them, and current members can move up or down as their circumstances change. 

Columbus Chamber of Commerce

4. Create a Win-Back Campaign

According to Marketing General Incorporated’s 2020 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, 76% of associations say that email is the channel that generates the most reinstated lapsed members. That being said,  the success of your post-lapse emails depends on what you say in them. 

To re-engage your lapsed members, take some time to create a strategic and well-thought-out win-back campaign.  If you conduct member exit surveys, go through the responses to see why members lapsed in the first place, then base your email communications off these reasons. Prepare several emails to be sent at specific intervals — a member may be too busy to respond to your first invitation to re-join and may need another reminder or two. 

When reaching out to lapsed members, make it more about them and less about you. Rather than saying, “We offer benefits like A, B, and C,” say “You’ll benefit from A, B, and C.” With this simple switch in language, you’re letting them know that you’re here to serve them and provide them with value — and that’s a great reason to rejoin.

Tip: Use an Association Management Software to automate your emails — it will save you from having to manually keep track of membership expiration dates, where members are in the renewal process, and which email you should send them next. 

Three Lapsed Membership Renewal Letter Templates to Try

Need a little inspiration to write your lapsed member emails? Feel free to start with these templates and customize them to fit your organization’s needs. 

Expiration day email template

On the day that a member’s membership expires, it’s crucial to let them know and give them an opportunity to renew. In your email, remind them of the benefits they’d be losing if they let their membership expire and gently invite them to renew. Make it easy by providing a link or a button. 

Even if you don’t hear back, don’t revoke their membership benefits just yet — give them a grace period of at least 30 days. 

Here’s a template you can use on the day their membership is supposed to expire:

Dear [First Name]

Did you know that your membership with [Association/Chamber Name] expires today? It’s been quite a year — and we’re looking forward to many more! 

Please don’t let your membership lapse! There are better options than paying an additional [dollar amount] to attend monthly events as a guest (guest rate is [dollar amount]) or rejoining at the new member rate of [dollar amount]

The good news is, there’s still time to renew! And it’s simple. Just click on this link, [renewal URL], and follow the prompts. 

Remember, [Association/Chamber Name] values you and helps you meet your professional goals in several ways, including:

  • [Benefit highlight] 
  • [Benefit highlight] 
  • [Benefit highlight] 
  • [Benefit highlight] 
  • [Benefit highlight] 

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We’re here to serve you! 

Best regards, 

[Name]
[Title]

Read More: 3 Membership Renewal Letter Samples to Boost Your Renewal Rates 

30 days past renewal date email template

For members who don’t renew after the first email, you can send a follow-up at the end of the grace period. In this message, you’ll remind them that their payment is 30 days overdue and that unless they renew now, their membership will truly end. Give them a few more days to complete the process, but establish a firm deadline this time. 

Here’s a template you can start with:

Dear [First Name]

First and foremost, we want to thank you for your membership with [Association/Chamber Name]. According to our records, your membership fee is currently 30 days past due, and we don’t want to lose you! We greatly value your support, so we’re reaching out one last time to ensure continuation of your membership benefits. 

As a reminder, [Association/Chamber Name] values you and helps you meet your professional goals in several ways, including:

  • [Benefit highlight] 
  • [Benefit highlight] 
  • [Benefit highlight] 

In order to renew your membership, full payment in the amount of [dollar amount] must be received within 10 days from the date of this email. If your payment is not received by this date, we will assume that you wish to discontinue your membership. 

Please contact [Representative Name] at [Phone Number and/or Email] if you have any questions or if there’s anything we can do to help. 

Best regards, 

[Name] 
[Title]

Member drop email template

Still no renewal? It’s time to send one final message. Here, you can let the member know that their membership has officially expired (and revoke their access/privileges). Remind them of what they’ll be missing and share some of your plans for the upcoming year. End the email with a reminder that if they wish to rejoin, they can still easily do so, but don’t pressure them — if they’ve gotten to this point, it’s likely they truly don’t want to renew their membership. 

Here’s what you can say:

Dear [First Name]

You will be missed! 

We regret to inform you that your membership with [Association/Chamber Name] has expired.

We want you to be informed that as a result of your non-membership status, you will no longer have access to the many benefits of [Association/Chamber Name] membership, including:

  • [Benefit example: Networking opportunities] 
  • [Benefit example: Education, training, and certification] 
  • [Benefit example: Business and industry development] 
  • [Benefit example: Legislation] 

Please know that your participation with [Association/Chamber Name] is always welcome and that it’s the investment from [individuals or organizations] like [you or yours] that allow us to better serve our [industry or community]

In the coming year, we are excited to take on many new initiatives, including:

  • Launch a program to… 
  • Continue advocacy efforts by… 
  • Enhance member value by… 
  • Collaborate with… 

We want you to be able to take advantage of these initiatives, as well as the many other benefits we aim to provide. 

If you have any questions or want to discuss rejoining the [Association/Chamber Name], please don’t hesitate to give us a call. You can reach us at [Phone Number or Email]

Best regards, 

[Name] 
[Title]

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