How to Win Back Lapsed Members: A Step-by-Step Guide for Organisations

How to Win Back Lapsed Members: A Step-by-Step Guide for Organisations

Learn how to win back lapsed members and prevent future churn with effective strategies. Prioritise exceptional service, communication, and offerings.

Do you manage an organisation or association? If so, it's likely that your customer base includes lapsed members who, for various reasons, haven't renewed their memberships. We've all cancelled a membership because it was too expensive or not relevant. It's probable that the organisation reached out to you with special offers, additional perks, and maybe even special prices. They were trying to get you back on board.

Winning back lapsed members is a crucial factor for organisations seeking to increase or maintain their revenue. And implementing the correct methods and strategies is vital for the success of any organisation.

Fortunately, there are numerous techniques and campaigns that can be employed on your mission to win back lapsed members. In this blog post, we'll explore all the ideas and learn how to rebuild member loyalty.


What are lapsed members?

Lapsed members are individuals who were once part of an organisation or group but are no longer actively involved or engaged. The term lapsed members can be used to refer to:

  • Members who have not been actively engaged with an organisation, club, or association for a period of time.
  • Those who let their membership expire or have chosen to discontinue their participation.
  • People who have not updated their payment information.


Why reactivating lapsed members is important

Customer acquisition can be five to seven times more expensive than customer retention. Therefore, winning back lapsed members is an excellent way to maintain the well-being of your organisation. Here are some crucial reasons for which re-engaging lapsed members is crucial:

  • Retention and growth: reactivate expired members to improve retention rates and increase your membership base and number of active members. This directly impacts the growth and sustainability of your organisation.
  • Financial impact: boosting membership numbers by re-engaging lapsed members helps provide additional funds for your organisation. Regain lost revenue and financial support to fund the activities, programs, initiatives, and perks for members.
  • Increased engagement: re-engage members to increase overall engagement with the organisation, which leads to greater loyalty and satisfaction. Offer new opportunities for participation, contribution, and access to organisational benefits and resources.


Understand reasons for member departure and prevent churn

We've established that winning back lapsed members is a priority. But it's equally important to understand why members left in the first place so that you can prevent churn. Here are steps you can take to gain a better understanding of member attrition:

  1. Conduct exit surveys: reach out to expired members and invite them to complete an exit survey. Design the survey to gather information about the reasons for leaving. Collect information about members' level of satisfaction, and any suggestions they may have. Make the surveys anonymous to encourage honest responses.
  2. Analyse membership data: dive into your membership database and identify patterns or trends in membership cancellations. Look for common characteristics like membership duration, type and demographics. Analyse this data to get insights into which groups of members are more likely to leave.
  3. Seek direct feedback: use phone calls, emails, or face-to-face meetings to understand lapsed members' reasons for leaving. Actively listen to their feedback, ask open-ended questions, and show genuine interest in their experience. Be prepared for constructive criticism and be open to suggestions for improvement.

Follow these steps and you will identify reasons for which members decide to cancel their membership. This information will help you take churn-preventing actions and provide better quality service. You will also be able to engage existing members in a more effective way, knowing what they might be struggling with.


How to win back lapsed members

Winning back lapsed members requires a strategic approach and the implementation of various techniques. They must be tailored to reconnect with former members and reignite their interest in your organisation. We will now take a look at strategies and methods to win back lapsed members.


Reengage with inactive members and improve member retention

Personalisation is key to many different aspects of business and marketing. Hence reaching out to expired members with personalised messages is a great step towards winning them back. Use a variety of messages, including emails, phone calls, or even handwritten notes to demonstrate your genuine interest in reconnecting. Apart from touching base with expired members, you will also make them feel valued and appreciated.

Some may say that it's easier said than done. Lapsed members cancelled, or decided not to renew their membership for a reason. Hence offering something that will encourage them to stay an active member of your organisation is key to success and incentives and discounts are especially popular with member retention strategies.

Create enticing offers specifically tailored to lapsed members and stand a chance of bringing them back on board. You could, for example, offer discounted membership rates, access to exclusive content or events, or unique benefits for rejoining.

This is where collected feedback comes in handy. Go over the comments, suggestions and recommendations you've collected from your surveys to learn which aspects can be improved.

For instance, if some of your lapsed members find the price too high, offer them a discount. Other members might have cancelled their memberships because the perks were no longer relevant or offered somewhere else at a better price. If it's the case, review the benefits offered to members and introduce new and trendy benefits.

If you need help with exciting perks for members, head to our blog post about tiered membership systems.


Leverage customer data to win back lapsed members

In one of the previous sections, we talked about the importance of data analysis. Now it's time to take a look at how to make data-informed decisions.

You may find that it can get tricky to reengage with some of the members. Some won't be interested, while others may be avoiding your calls and ignoring messages on purpose. The good news is that it's something common. But you cannot give up that easily. Now is the time to target them with generic re-engagement campaigns!

Organisations often use email newsletters, social media platforms, and direct mail to reconnect with previous members. This form of communication is not intrusive and users choose whether they want to interact with it, for example, by liking a social media post. Messages shared via these channels also remind previous members of the value and benefits offered by the organisation.

Are you wondering how to leverage customer data? An idea would be to identify a specific segment of members who initially joined your organisation due to a promotional offer. Have you noticed that they cancelled their membership as soon as their discount ended? Target them with another special offer. You may even want to consider offering the reduced rate for life.


Use personalised content to renew expired members

Membership data gives you access to privileged information. You can see what content expired members engaged with, what events they attended, and which perks they enjoyed the most.

For example, if your association brings together triathlon athletes, analyse which competitions the previous members participated in the most. Have you managed to identify their favourite events? Ring them up or send out a letter informing them about the event and offer a discount on the participation fee. You can also provide information about upcoming training plans for the event.

Did some of the expired members point out the same reason for leaving your organisation? Reach out to them to highlight new initiatives, improvements, or changes that address their previous concerns or interests. Demonstrate how your organisation has evolved thanks to their feedback.


Provide seamless payment methods

It's still common for some organisations to collect membership fees annually. Some organisations don't even offer card payments and fees must be paid via bank transfers. Your XXI-century members may see it as a major inconvenience.

Have you noticed that some members didn't renew their membership simply because they forgot to make the payment? Has anyone mentioned the lack of time to make a bank transfer? Maybe some have requested to pay on a monthly basis. A great idea would be to investigate the option of switching to monthly payment plans.

It's worth remembering that your members are used to automatic monthly withdrawals. Streaming platform subscriptions, gym memberships, and weekly fruit baskets have one thing in common; they all operate with recurring payments. So if you want your organisation to be more relevant and inviting, consider digital payment methods. If your organisation operates in the Nordics, make sure to take a look at our local direct debit methods.

Do you already know why former members have left your organisation? It's now time to prevent more members from attriting your organisation.


Take advice from lapsed members and improve where necessary

Lapsed members hold valuable insights into the areas where your organisation may need improvement. Collecting feedback will help you identify weaknesses or areas of dissatisfaction that contributed to their decision to leave.

Embracing their advice allows you to make meaningful changes and enhance your offerings, communication, or member experience. By listening to lapsed members, you demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement and a willingness to address their concerns. Use their feedback as a catalyst for positive change and use it to retain existing members. You will also attract new ones by creating an organisation that meets members' needs and expectations.

Besides, if you listen to the feedback provided by lapsed members you may be able to retain more active members. Chances are some of your member bases may not be satisfied with the same things that inactive members pointed out. Therefore act on the feedback and implement changes as soon as possible! Here are a few ideas on how to keep current members engaged:


Make customer service and engagement your priority

To enhance member satisfaction and foster long-term loyalty, prioritise exceptional customer service and engagement within your organisation. Regular and effective communication with members plays a fundamental role in achieving these goals. Keep members informed by providing timely updates on activities, initiatives, and relevant industry trends. This ensures they stay connected and aware of the value your organisation offers.

Additionally, invite members to participate in surveys and focus groups to gather their feedback. This first-hand information can be used to incorporate their perspectives into decision-making processes. This demonstrates that their opinions are valued and helps tailor your offerings to their needs.

Delivering high-quality customer service is a must. Respond promptly to member inquiries and concerns, and approach each interaction with professionalism and empathy. Strive for clear and concise communication, and avoid jargon or technical terms that may confuse members. By being proactive and anticipating their needs, you exceed their expectations and provide proactive solutions.

Another great idea is to be innovative in providing benefits and perks that align with current trends and member preferences. Apart from increasing member satisfaction, you will also stand out from the competition. Seek opportunities to offer exclusive advantages, such as access to premium content, special events, or discounts on relevant products or services. Regularly remind members about your value proposition; you can deepen their engagement and foster a sense of belonging within the organisation.

In summary, you should focus on cultivating member satisfaction and loyalty. Regular communication, feedback collection, high-quality customer service, and innovative offerings contribute to building strong relationships with members. And this increases the chances of members staying with your organisation for longer.


We hope that by the end of this article, you have a better understanding of how to win back lapsed members. Remember to re-engage them, offer attractive incentives, or discounts and show how your organisation is improving. Targeted marketing and outreach strategies will help you reach out to lapsed members and encourage them to return.

With the right strategies in place, you can successfully win back inactive members and increase their customer retention. Do you have more questions? Don't hesitate to contact us!

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