Membership sites are arguably one of the best and most consistent forms of online income. If you do it right, you stand to make a fortune. However, so many people are pulling their hair out, trying to figure out why no one wants to be a member and why the people that are members don’t hang around very long.
I will take some of the guess work out of it for you. Here are seven reasons why your membership site probably isn’t as good as it could be.
How To Improve Your Membership Website
You Are Not Accessible
When people join your membership, they want to feel like they have personal access to you. By creating a membership site and then backing yourself out completely from communicating with the members, you are removing one of the biggest factors that could keep your members around for a very long time. Not too long ago, someone told me that “access was the new thud”. The “thud” referred to the added perceived value of your product or service when your customer received a “big box of stuff” in the mail (The “thud” being the sound it made when you dropped the box on your desk). The “thud” or “big box of stuff” used to be something that drove the perceived value of your product or promotion through the roof. These days, giving your members the perception of having personal access to you is the new way to build in that maximum perceived value.
Being active in your forum, personally responding to emails from members, and offering webinars or conference calls can go a long way in making your members feel like they have personal access to you, the expert.
You Are Not Staying In Tune With What Your Members Want
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they are creating membership sites is that they create content based around what they want to talk about as opposed to creating content based around what your members want to learn. As people with a lot of experience and knowledge in the niches in which we teach, we often forget how much we know and how far we have come to learn the things that we are now teaching. It seems to be a very common mistake that we, as content creators, teach over the heads of our members.
If you want to ensure that your members stay with you for a very long time, it’s important to bring yourself back to their level and remember some of the struggles and stumbling points that you encountered when you were getting started. I find that doing a monthly survey of my list and constantly engaging the members in my forum helps keep me in touch with the content that they want from me and the pace at which I should teach it.
You Are Not Engaging Them Through Multiple Forms of Media
If you really want to build the maximum level of engagement that makes your members feel like you are really taking care of them, you need to avoid relying on only one form of media. We think it’s so simple to just crank out video after video and slap it inside of a membership site. If you’re good at creating videos, that’s a great start… But it’s not going to keep them coming back craving more. Video may be your favorite way to teach or to learn but I would be willing to bet money right now that it’s not ALL of your member’s favorite way to learn.
Experiment with adding written articles to your membership. Make text transcripts and audio versions of your content available. People love the options. Personally, I love audio content because I can listen to it while driving or while out for a walk. If video is not my preferred form of media for receiving content, I guarantee you have some members that have preferences other than video as well. Make sure you stay in tune with these needs by giving them options.
You Are Trying To Drip Feed Your Content
When you really think about it, does drip feeding all of your content really make sense? Let’s say that you have a membership site with drip-fed content that’s been online for six months… If you’re creating content right now that you are really excited about and really passionate about, it’s only going to be seen by a small minority of your members. Members that are getting in to the site today are seeing your oldest (possibly outdated) content while only the few members that have been around since month one are seeing the stuff that you just created and are really excited about… What happens two years from now when you still have a few members hanging around that have been there since the beginning? You’re still creating content that could potentially only be seen by a handful of people.
Drip feeding make sense if you’ve created a six month course or training that has a specific end date. In almost every other case, you should avoid falling in to the trap of making all of your content drip-fed. You will regret it in the future.
You Are Not Setting Milestones For Your Members
While I believe that drip-fed membership sites are a bad move, I believe that milestone-based incentives are an excellent move. If you give your members some sort of bonus to stick around and keep coming back, you will see your retention go through the roof.
I like to offer bonuses to my members once they’ve been a member for sixty days (the refund period), once they’ve been members for six months and once they’ve been members for a year. The bonuses must be worth sticking around for though. I can not stress enough how important it is that you offer some killer bonuses for reaching these milestones. You can offer hour long consulting calls, access to full products that you’ve created outside of your membership, physical versions of your content shipped in the mail, or even be willing to purchase cool toys for them once they reach a full year. Offering up these incentives will definitely keep people encouraged to stick around and pay attention.
Your Barrier To Entry Is Too High
There is nothing wrong with having membership sites that run $97 per month or more per member. In fact, that seems to be a pretty standard price point these days for membership sites. However, $97 is too high of a price to pay today.
If you lower the price that people pay today, you’re much more likely to get them to jump on board. Telling people that they need to pay $97 now and then continue to pay $97 every single month to stay a member is a tough sell. However, telling people that they can take a test drive today for $1 or for $5 is a much easier sell. It gives them the opportunity to get inside and see that you really do offer them a lot of value and that what you deliver is worth much more than the $97 per month that they will eventually pay.
Play around with offering trials of $1 or $5 for the first month just to get them inside. Once they have access to all of the valuable content that you’re offering, they are going to have a real hard time canceling and losing everything you’re providing for them.
You Are Not Reactivating Cancelled Members
It has always been said that the easiest person to sell to is an existing customer. If that’s true, one of the next easiest sells is to someone that was once a customer. While running your membership right now, what do you do with the people who cancel? In almost all cases, you’re letting them walk away and never hear from you again.
What you should be doing is adding them to a list of cancelled customers and then following up with them. Offer them bonuses, discounts, and special access to you for coming back and giving your membership another shot. You will be surprised at how responsive this tactic can be. Over time, I have managed to reactivate about 25% of the members that have cancelled just by offering incentives to come back and give us a second chance. If you’re not doing this, you are leaving money on the table.
Running a membership site can be a very rewarding and profitable endeavor. If you get it right, keep your members engaged, and constantly strive to provide high quality content, you will find yourself running a very successful membership site with customers who absolutely love you. Don’t make the mistakes above and you are practically guaranteed to build a following as well as a satisfying income for years to come.
Matt Wolfe has helped create and build two hugely successful membership sites that currently serve close to 5,000 members combined. He discusses his journey and how to build successful online businesses over at his personal blog, BusinessAndBlogs.com. You can also take a look at Matt’s membership site all about using WordPress to create your websites over at TheWPClassroom.com.