by Will Rogers
Maybe you’ve heard about the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to launching membership sites. I want to talk about the things people forget about when it comes to launching a membership site.
In many cases, we skip right through all of the work that goes into launching a membership site. These are the things folks often forget. The things that make membership sites successful. Hear that? I said “successful”. I didn’t say easy. Doing all of these things won’t be easy. But, doing them will set you up for success.
Most people I talk with about membership sites start at the wrong place. They buy domains and spend all kinds of money. Listen, don’t start working on building out your site. If you are doing that now—stop!
Where should you start? Whatever type of community leader you're looking to be online, start with pen and paper and design your plan. You must start with a plan before you make too many other steps. What should be part of your plan? I’m glad you asked. In creating a plan for your membership site, think through and list out your goals, your audience—who you’ll want to attract to your site, revenue structure, messaging, onboarding, and so on.
Here’s what I often see: people are in love with what they do. Great, it’s your passion. I appreciate that. But, we often get too cute. Don’t make things too cute. People won’t understand.
For example, title your membership tiers as something people would identify themselves and not something that you understand for backend office terminology. I see this way too much. Err on the side of descriptive when you can’t decide. Be LESS creative if you need to!
Also, be sure, somewhere on your site, show a list of everything they get for that membership tier. Use a bulleted list if you have to. But, be clear and take time to clarify your offer to followers.
Once you have a customer, it’s easy to think you’re done. But, you can’t think this way. Getting a customer is just the start! Seriously, just go ahead and assume buyers' remorse and your great effort to combat that remorse.
Want to know a few things worth remembering once someone becomes a paying customer? Welcome the new customer quickly to say thanks for joining. You’d be amazed at how often communication stops for customers. Show your new customer right away the value and the next steps they should take. Try and focus on two or three key next steps. Don’t overcomplicate this process. Make it as simple as possible for your buyer. Remember, they are new and they don’t know their way around yet. It’s your job to teach them and order their steps so they get the most from your site. This is a great way to get more followers on your site.
Here’s what I mean by this: tell folks what they get when they sign up! Create a list to show people the value of your membership. Spell everything out! Make a dedicated page to explain the value of membership. Too many details are a good thing here.
Protip: add member testimonials. Make them short and sweet. But, show them on your site! This step is one many people often forget. You can’t forget it. Do it!
Now that I mentioned testimonials. This, if remembered, is often done incorrectly. Be sure you capture testimonies from people in your community. I know, that should be standard. You’d be surprised! Here’s what you need to remember: show the testimony with a photo to make it more personal and real.
Use testimonies both for selling memberships but also for reinforcing the purchase people have made. Recall step three of this list—or have you already forgotten?!
I can’t stress this enough. Make the process simple. Direct visitors to the “Join Now” button all over your site and in your navigation. Yes, it’ll feel salesy. But, it’s not. It’s helpful for interested visitors. It's literally how you can make money with your site. They need to know where to go to join. Also, try not to ask too many questions when inviting them in to join. We want this to be a simple process. Protip: Make sure you’ve walked through the process yourself with a different email. Test. Test. Test.
Make the offer early and often. Make it look consistent through your website and emails. Don’t assume people see or catch the idea the first time around. It’s said you need to see something or hear something seven times before it sinks in. Let that sink in!
If your site is done well. Customers will want to give it to others as a gift. Plan for that! Allow people to give membership to your community as a gift. Make sure your members know they can gift it to others. Run promotional campaigns to customers at key times of the year about your gifting options.
The right platform is the one that fits your needs. Choose the online membership management software that can help manage and automate as much of the steps in the post as possible. Consider all the things you want to offer your members when selecting a platform. Make a list. It’s much easier to have it all in one place. For example, member content, courses, events, groups, email automation, you get the idea. Keep the list of your priorities handy.
Launch a marketing campaign around your membership. Plan to run that campaign more than once, think of doing it seasonally. You’ll be tired of hearing your campaign before others are tired of hearing it—hopefully! Consider what’s new. You’re working on your site all of the time. Get everyone excited about what’s new in your membership offering for your next campaign.
Bonus: Forgetting to make a checklist. You have to have a checklist. Or, you’ll get lost on the newest, most expensive platform with all of the promises. We have you covered here. Grab your pre-launch checklist. Happy launching!
You want to have a dynamic and multi-dimensional community that thrives. In order to do that, you need a strategy of both online and offline engagement. This guide will help you think through your approach to engaging a virtual community. Download the free eBook: How to Take Your Community Digital.
About the author: Will Rogers is the Founder and CEO of CauseMachine. Will’s career has been spent leading organizations and helping to mobilize communities to a shared vision. He has served in various leadership roles to build community engagement and movements teaching him valuable hands-on skills and experience. Will has developed business and community engagement strategies for dozens of organizations in nearly 50 countries. He and his wife have two sons and now live in Kentucky after two decades in Colorado.