Association Training

How Large Associations Can Use LMS Software to Increase Member Retention

by Debbie Williams

Member retention rates for associations are dropping. In 2016, 73 percent of survey respondents mentioned in a membership benchmarking report from Advanced Solutions International said member retention exceeded 75 percent, per Associations Now.¹ Just 65 percent of respondents reported the same figure the following year. 

Replacing members is costly for large associations. “Statistics show that it costs seven times more to obtain a new member than to retain a current one,” according to Growth Zone Association Software.² This is one of the main reasons why associations prioritize improving member retention.

While there are multiple ways to improve member retention, the overarching tactic is to provide more valuable members. Make the benefits your members get too enticing to give up. Unfortunately, large associations can be at a disadvantage when it comes to providing benefits because, with large member bases, it’s difficult to provide personalized attention to each individual or group. Member benefits in large associations need to be efficient and, most importantly, scalable. Learning management software (LMS) can help.


3 Ways to Boost Association Member Retention Using Learning Management Software

Associations regularly cite networking, learning best practices in their profession, and gaining or maintaining professional certifications as top reasons why members join and stay with their association.³

Association training programs are significant member benefits that, when delivered effectively, can help improve your member retention rates. Learning management software can meet an association’s training needs and improve member retention by delivering those training programs and helping members network with one another.

Here are a few ways to encourage member renewals using an LMS:

1. Engage members and facilitate networking -- Although the link between member engagement and retention may seem obvious, some associations fail to notice it or struggle to effectively increase engagement.4

LMS software engages association members in multiple ways. One is by facilitating better communication. For example, learning management systems centralize communication to a degree by storing education communication in one place, allowing it to be contextualized into subjects and broken down into sub-sections in which conversations can be tracked for easy maintenance. This can reduce the number of communication channels some members must use to stay updated, especially when using professional education benefits.

LMS software also drives engagement by helping members network and build relationships through social learning communities. Social learning communities connect members with others in their field, as well as with subject matter experts who can assist them in learning best practices. These communities give members a sense of belonging that is crucial to engagement, in addition to practical connections to help them succeed.

2. Onboard members -- Onboarding is key to member engagement and retention since first-year association members have the worst renewal rates, according to New Member Onboarding and Retention Plans for Associations.5 The source stated,

“Member onboarding is more than simply sending out a welcome packet. It is a big piece (if not the biggest piece) of the membership life cycle.”

LMS software promotes member retention by equipping associations with tools to deliver interactive onboarding programs.

An onboarding campaign shouldn’t overwhelm new members by throwing too much information at them at once. It is more helpful to deliver small bites of personalized content to members. This method of onboarding is gentle but effective, giving new members calls-to-action and helping them feel immediately useful and connected to the association.6

An LMS delivers “small bites of content” (i.e., microlearning) to association members’ mobile devices. The content can then be accessed at any time, from any location, to optimize onboarding.

3. Protect member data and educate staff -- The average data breach costs $3.86 million, which breaks down to $141 to $148 per lost record, per NBC News.7 But beyond costing associations a lot of money, a data breach can potentially cost them member renewals.

An LMS stores personal data on each association member, but LMS software that uses best practices will help reduce your risk. For example, SSO (single sign-on), a common LMS feature, tightens up cybersecurity. PeopleFluent8 stated,

“When the number of passwords needed to access different systems is reduced, the risk that passwords are re-used across different systems is reduced, too. With single sign-on technology, learners only need one set of login details for verified access to different systems.”

LMS software offers a degree of data protection, but it’s just one aspect of your association’s data security. A bigger aspect is educating staff and members about cybersecurity. You can use an LMS to do this.

To minimize the risk of a data breach, provide an online cybersecurity course for members that offers tips and techniques for improving data security. Also, creating a data security essentials course for staff could prove invaluable to your association. This type of course educates workers on best practices for keeping sensitive information safe and curtailing potential cyber attacks.

LMS Software Can Improve Your Association’s Member Retention Rates

For large associations, increased member retention leads to cost savings as you increase recurring revenue and lessen your reliance on attracting new members. LMS software helps associations boost retention in practical and effective ways, including enhancing member engagement and onboarding.

Download the data sheet to discover additional ways learning management software can give your association an advantage in 5 Benefits of an LMS for Associations.

Association Training


1, 4 Associations Now. To increase member retention, rate and score engagement.

2, 5 Growth Zone. New member onboarding and retention plan for associations.

3. Marketing General Incorporated. Membership marketing benchmark reports.

6 Aptify. How onboarding is key to future member engagement.

7. NBC News. The total cost of a data breach -- including lost business -- keeps growing.

8. PeopleFluent. Top 3 benefits of single sign-on for LMS users.

Debbie Williams

Debbie Williams

Director, Marketing