Creating a successful community is a significant achievement, but the real challenge lies in retaining this community over time. 

Community members are the lifeblood of any community, and if you don’t keep them engaged and active, the community will eventually dwindle and die. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can maximize membership retention.

In this article, we’ll explore various strategies and insights to help maintain and grow your community, ensuring long-term engagement and success.

Understanding churn rate

Churn rate is a vital metric in community management. It represents the percentage of members who leave your community within a given period. Ideally you want your churn rate as low as possible, as a lower churn rate suggests a healthy, engaged community. 

The formula to calculate churn rate is straightforward:

Churn rate = Number of customers lost during a time period / Number of customers at the start of the period​.

For instance, if you start with 100 members and lose five over a month, your monthly churn rate is 5%.

Understanding your churn rate helps identify retention issues within your community. Although average churn rates can vary (for example, 3-8% per month in a SaaS company), knowing your specific rate is crucial. 

Predictive analytics tools, such as Google Cloud ML Engine and BigML, can forecast potential churn, enabling proactive measures for retention.

Check out this article from our sister community, Customer Success Collective, to learn more about churn rates (and take advantage of the built-in churn calculator).

Churn calculator: how to calculate customer churn
In today’s highly competitive business landscape, understanding and managing customer churn is crucial to a company’s long-term success. But calculating churn isn’t a case of highlighting what’s wrong with a company. It’s not all doom and gloom – far from it.

The power of content in retaining community members

Content is a cornerstone of community engagement. The right content can keep your audience engaged, providing continuous value. An effective content strategy involves:

  • Understanding your members: Know who your community members are. Utilize personas to understand their content preferences.
  • Reviewing past content: Analyze which types of content have previously resonated with your community.
  • Content frequency and quality: Strike a balance between the frequency of posts and the quality of content.
  • Diverse content formats: Experiment with various content formats to cater to different preferences.
  • Personalization: Use member data to personalize content, enhancing relevance and engagement.
  • Content timing: Schedule content release strategically to maintain ongoing engagement.

Encourage user-generated content to foster a sense of belonging and participation. This approach not only enriches your content but also builds a stronger community bond.

Utilizing personas for targeted engagement

Personas are fictional characters representing various segments of your community. They should be based on comprehensive qualitative and quantitative research, not assumptions. A typical persona includes attributes, goals, typical day, and pain points of a specific market segment. Aim to create several different personas to cover the breadth of your audience.

It’s likely that product marketing, marketing, community and customer success teams will play the biggest role in creating the personas. In order to create accurate personas, these teams should analyze the data from existing members. It’s also important to ask your members directly for the information you need by giving them the chance to take part in polls and complete surveys and interviews through tools such as Google forms and Survey Monkey. 

Here’s an example of what a persona could look like:

Personas are invaluable for content tailoring, ensuring that what you offer resonates with different community segments. They also ensure that your offerings are inclusive and accessible to all, regardless of income, technology access, or other factors.

Regularly update your personas based on ongoing interactions and feedback from community members. This dynamic approach ensures that your community strategies remain relevant and effective.

Optimizing membership packages for enhanced retention

Another way to improve retention rates in your community is to reconsider your membership structure. Membership structures should be flexible and responsive to the changing needs of your community. 

Options like subscription pauses or different membership levels can cater to varying member needs. Regular feedback from both current and former members can guide adjustments to your membership packages.

For example, you might discover a segment that prefers access to a library of resources at a lower price point, while another desires more in-depth, premium content and is willing to pay more. Continuously refining your membership offerings based on such insights can significantly reduce churn.

It’s also very important to ask former members why they left the community. You may find they leave because the membership was too expensive, or because they didn’t actually know about everything they were entitled to.

If the latter is the case then you should invest some time to make sure each benefit within the membership package is highlighted during the onboarding process. Members should be prompted, by pop-ups or emails, to start using the different features available to them as soon as possible. 

Be sure to keep checking in with your community, listen to what they’re saying to you and each other and keep refining your personas.

How do personality differences relate to your community?
Humans are at the heart of every community, so it stands to reason that their personalities would be just as important. After all, personality differences can play a key role in the dynamics and health of a community.

Key strategies for community retention

Let’s go over the key strategies you’ll need to remember to keep your community intact and growing:

  • Monitor churn rate: Keep a close watch on your churn rate to gauge the health of your community.
  • Predictive analytics: Utilize tools like Google Cloud ML Engine to anticipate and prevent potential churn.
  • Content strategy: Develop a rich, diverse content strategy that caters to the interests and needs of your members.
  • Engage with personalization: Use personalization to make members feel valued and understood.
  • Empower user-generated content: Encourage members to contribute content, fostering a sense of ownership and community spirit.
  • Leverage personas: Use personas to tailor your interactions and offerings, ensuring relevance and inclusivity.
  • Flexible membership options: Be open to modifying membership structures based on member feedback and changing circumstances.
  • Continual feedback and adjustment: Regularly seek feedback and be willing to adjust strategies in response to community dynamics.

Final thoughts

Community retention is an ongoing journey of learning, adapting, and evolving. By understanding your churn rate, crafting a compelling content strategy, utilizing personas effectively, and being flexible with membership structures, you can foster a vibrant and engaged community.

The ultimate goal is to create a community that is not just large in numbers, but also rich in engagement and connections. By applying these strategies, you can ensure the longevity and success of your community, turning it into a thriving ecosystem of engaged members.

This comprehensive approach to community management underscores the importance of not just attracting members, but more importantly, retaining them through continuous engagement, understanding, and adaptation.

The journey of nurturing and retaining your community is a testament to your dedication to growth, relevance, and excellence in the ever-evolving realm of community building.

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