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6 Tips for Membership Renewal Email Design

6 Tips for Membership Renewal Email Design

Membership renewal emails are a critical step in your customer retention and relationship process. These emails should be carefully designed to resonate with a specific audience group: one that’s already engaged with your brand. An email inviting customers to continue their relationship with you — whether by renewing, upgrading or subscribing — needs to be well-crafted and thoughtful. Here are some easy tips on how to do it.

An email inviting customers to continue their relationship with you — whether by renewing, upgrading or subscribing — needs to be well-crafted and thoughtful. Click To Tweet

1. Keep the message simple

Membership renewal emails should be direct and clear. Most are structured as letter-style emails, addressing a reader directly and sometimes including a personal sign-off from the sender. This message from the Museum of Modern Art gets right to the point:

Subject line: Your special offer ends tonight!

membership renewal email example

Simplicity is crucial in membership renewal emails because a reader’s action is time-sensitive. If they don’t renew, upgrade or extend, the offer will expire. To get this point across, it’s important to convey it clearly.

It’s also good to keep in mind that since readers have already engaged with you in some way, you already have a captive audience. This means you don’t need to waste space grabbing attention with an image, animated GIF or beautiful header. Just communicate concisely and effectively.

Here are some must-know design tips for creating simple emails:

  • Use a white background
  • Make sure your text is easy to read in a high-contrast color, like black, gray or blue
  • Get your message across in no more than a few sentences
  • Include headers to help make text scannable
  • Spot illustrations can help communicate visually

2. Personalize your greeting

Recipients of membership renewal emails are a valuable audience. They’ve already shown active interest in your site or product. To help recipients continue engaging with your site or product, address them by name. This will make your message more personal and help them pay attention. Plus, emails aren’t written and designed by robots; they’re assembled by a team of real people. So being more personable helps readers connect with your brand.

This example from The Correspondent makes sure to personalize its message by using the recipient’s first name in the subject line and in the first line of the email.

Subject line: [First name], you didn’t renew your membership — but it’s not too late

membership renewal email

3. Give readers a reason to renew or upgrade

Alerting readers that it’s time to renew is only half the battle. The other half is giving them a reason why they should. Renewal emails are a lot like invitation emails: When you ask readers to renew or upgrade, you should clearly present the associated value proposition.

This Smithsonian email starts out by listing the basic benefits involved with a Smithsonian account. Then it goes on to share more specific benefits in list format. This is an efficient way to show readers what they’ll get.

Subject line: Tony, reinstate your membership 

renew your membership email

4. Create a sense of urgency

Subscribers typically have a small window of time to act if they want to renew or upgrade an offer. Make this short timeframe evident right away to encourage action. From the subject line to the body copy to the call to action, creating a sense of immediacy gives readers a reason to act now.

In this email from Grammarly, the website presents a special offer in bright yellow: 50% off of a yearlong premium subscription. The message is hard to miss or misconstrue. 

Subject line: We’re not seeing any activity from last week. 

membership renewal email

5. Use a standout, bulletproof call-to-action button

One of the most important components of membership renewal emails is the CTA button. Once you’ve greeted subscribers in a personal way, extended your offer clearly, explained why the offer is valuable and created urgency, the CTA button is where the action happens. A button is the clearest, easiest way to show readers (in less than a second) where and how to act. The CTA button is most likely the first thing readers will see after opening a message, so make it stand out!

ReturnMe uses color to make its CTA button pop on the screen. And because the language is so clear — Upgrade Now — readers don’t even need to read the rest of the email to understand the offer.

Subject line: What it costs to lose your items 

membership renewal email

6. Create a drip campaign

Capturing the attention of an engaged audience shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of a single one-off email. Build upon your initial relationship and set up email drip campaigns, providing multiple opportunities for readers to act.

After trying a one-month trial of SquareSpace, the site sends a (short) series of reminders to users that their trial is expiring (email #1). Even after the trial expires, SquareSpace wisely continues to engage its audience with an opportunity to extend the trial for another week (email #2). Finally, if readers still haven’t responded, SquareSpace presents one last opportunity for them to extend for free. For readers who don’t upgrade, SquareSpace also invites them to respond to a quick in-email survey to indicate why they aren’t upgrading (email #3).

By doing all this, you can test to see how subscribers react.


SquareSpace drip campaign membership renewal emailsr

Wrap-up: Design tips for membership renewal emails

Create your own membership renewal emails using the BEE email editor. With the BEE editor, there’s no coding background needed — the user-friendly editor is a simple way to design emails that engage readers and get renewals. Try one of our membership renewal email templates, like the Turn On Automatic Renewal message designed by Yorbi Barriento:

Or the Renew App Membership email by Gaia Zuccaro.

Upgrade to BEE Pro for even more design features and email templates!

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email with a person and a blue cta saying renew noow


Updated November 2, 2020.




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BEE Team