3 tips for mitigating churn

On the first of the month, I believe it’s normal to experience some “churn” - people cancel their pledges when they get that reminder that their card was charged. Here are three things I’m doing this month to help mitigate churn. I’d love to know if you have any strategies you use and also if anyone has any feedback about what a “normal” amount of deleted pledges is in a given month vs what a worrisome amount is.

Tip 1: I have “charge up front” enabled, so 5 days before the end of the month I adjust my tiers to have a note explaining charge upfront. It makes my tier descriptions longer than I like, but hopefully that helps avoid the situation where someone joins on the 30th and then is surprised/upset about a second charge happening on the 1st.

Screenshot 2020-04-29 09.42.18

Tip 2: Do a patron poll for a special “patron only” reward that comes out on the 1st or 2nd of the month, and then publicize that post to remind patrons and others of the benefits that come from support. Since people may be weighing the pros/cons of their membership on the 1st of the month, I want to give them a few positives around this time. Here’s the poll I have for our 20 minute patron-only livestream on May 2nd:

Tip 3: Do a thank you post on the last day of the month thanking patrons for their support and sharing a few highlights from the month or a “Month in review” post that reminds patrons of the resources/benefits they had. I haven’t made ours yet… but will update this post with a link when I do.

Edited to add: I combined our month in review post with one announcing the next day’s livestream, because #exhaustion… but I hope the visual image /reminder of the benefits they received (and the educational content they provided for others) will increase retention. Here’s a link in case anyone is curious to see it: https://www.patreon.com/posts/36600122

I hope these tips/ideas are helpful to you, but most of all - I’d love to hear if you have any strategies for minimizing churn and what your benchmarks are for “good churn,” “okay/understandable churn,” vs “I must be doing something wrong” churn. I’m hoping to have fewer than 10 deleted pledges this weekend when the new month comes in. :crossed_fingers:

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This is really interesting & useful, thanks!
I do have this fear of losing patrons when the end of the month is near, and then when the new month starts. It’s all the more real when you have few of them.
My only way to deal with this is to post some very interesting content at the last days, some illustration or creative step by step I know most of my patrons love to see.
And then I cross fingers, haha!

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I like the month in review thing. One thing I make sure to do is to post my upcoming schedule for the next month the week before the end of the month. That way patrons can see the benefits they will be getting (in bonus videos, painting tutorials, etc) if they continue. I think that really helps keep patrons interested. I also use polls in my highest levels to allow them to pick the images we will be painting. I definitely think keeping patrons engaged with polls makes them feel part of the process.

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@angelafineart The preview of upcoming rewards is a great idea.

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One last tip - I also sent this email to patrons that joined on the last day of the month:

"Science Mom here. First, I wanted to say thank you for joining us on Patreon! I also wanted to be sure that you knew that your card will be automatically charged tomorrow at whatever level it is set at currently. Because cards are charged when you pledge and on the 1st of each month going forward, I know it can feel like getting “double charged” when you join at the end of a month. If you intended your pledge to be a boost of double support, we really appreciate it! If the additional charge tomorrow is unexpected and unwelcome, please let me know. I can refund it and you’ll still be able to access patron-only rewards through May.

Thanks again for being part of our Patreon family!"

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just a note to say I find Graphaton useful to find out what a typical churn is in other creators on Patreon. Best not to look until after the first week of the month.

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Hi Jenny,

My top tip would be not to overthink it.

I can’t help but feel that “us creators” are so often looking at things from within our own bubbles, yet the truth of it is that we can’t second guess our patrons’ mindsets and motives.

They might have a myriad of things going on in their lives that we simply won’t ever know about or understand. Or maybe their approach to money and spending doesn’t match yours/ours at all.

It’s like trying to fire a dart over a wall to hit a dartboard that you think is there somewhere.

I believe the best thing we can do is to keep bouncing the ball — simply keep creating the good stuff that your patrons signed up for in the first place.

If you’re inclined, I think the ‘reward road map’ is a great idea so that patrons can see what’s coming.

However, in my view, the moment you mention upcoming payments and/or card charges (unless it’s a really essential admin issue), you’re planting the seed of doubt which may not have been there in the first place.

And I wouldn’t worry about the double-charging thing either. When patrons sign up, Patreon tells them when the next payment will be taken from their card, so it’s up to them. In those moments, they can decide to delay their payment if they’d like to.

Perhaps the new patron is actually thinking:

“Damn, I must sign up to be Jenny’s patron. I meant to do it at the start of the month and I still haven’t because I’ve been so busy. Hey ho, it means she gets two payments in quick succession now, so that will be handy for her and it makes me feel better about it.”

I made a video when the lockdown was announced that actually invited my patrons to reduce or even pause their pledges if they wanted to. Unusually for me, I was panicking a little as the landscape was shifting so rapidly at the time.

Thank goodness I decided not to share it online after all.

Instead, I thought:

“Hang on, this is my time to shine even brighter than I do normally!”

…so I went to town online asking my audience for their help — reminding them that if they’ve been entertained by my project and want it to continue, then they need to help fund it.

As a result, instead of losing patrons (I’ve lost two in total during the lockdown), I’ve actually gained nearly 50 patrons in the last 5 weeks!

So, keep bouncing the ball, Jenny! Just keep making the great work and people who want to hang around will hang around…and leave the wording on tiers alone — Patreon already look after a lot of that language and mindset for you.

On a final note, I’d highly recommend not posting in the last day or two of the month unless it fits into your normal course of engaging with your crowd.

I support about a dozen other creators on Patreon — not least your good self! — and I personally find it niggling when the only time I hear from them is the last day of the month. It feels very obvious that they’re feeling duty-bound to be in touch and want to remind you that they need paying.

On 30 April, I received four posts from creators!

There’s one in particular who is a very big hitter on Patreon. The only reason I’m sticking by him is because I like the work he’s making but I’ve noticed that he’s lost around 4000 patrons this year and I’m sure his “last day of the month posts” will have something to do with it.

As Neil Gaiman would say, just “make good art” (see video at the bottom of my Linktree https://linktr.ee/JackLowe)

I hope this helps in some way…

— Jack

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Interesting topic!

I agree with you, Jack. I think all my patrons are there because they want to support me, and they can.

When anybody becomes a patron for the first time, he/she already decided to put that amount of money every month, he/she thinks he/she CAN afford it. And even if it is the last day of the month… it is very cheap! 500 previous posts were unlocked for him/her!

Patrons who left, either they can’t afford it anymore, or they don’t get as much as they want. In any case, I can’t bring them back with words.

I also agree with Neil Gaiman! Just work as good as you can, you will improve your art, people will notice :slight_smile:

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Spot on, Pau :dart:

— Jack

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@Jack fairly often your comments and posts are exactly what I need to hear. I completely agree that there’s something contagious about doubt and apology – and I love the “make good art” approach too.

As a follow up to my efforts to have lower churn this month:

Every single one of the patrons who pledged on the last day of the month - when I emailed them replied with a “yep, I meant to do that.”

My churn was about 2x higher this month than last, which had me feeling a bit discouraged – but, like @Jack and @Pau mentioned, there are things inside our control (creating content) and things outside our control (other people’s finances and priorities), and it’s best to focus on the former.

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Dang, Jack, you’re talking directly to my heart here, thank you :gift_heart:. And thanks @ScienceMom for this great post in the first place! Inspiring to be reminded how together we are in our journeys to create great things for the people who love them most

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Thank you, Nathan. Happy to help!

— Jack

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I love these tips! thank you!

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Wow! These are great! Thank u so much for Sharing. I’ll be trying them ALL. Hopefully they work 4 me.

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