The internet is full of advice on how to successfully launch your membership site and continue the momentum post-launch to retain members. Personal stories of how after a sole campaign, the creator grew their membership two-fold and started bringing in enough income to quit their day job.
But what if your campaign launch fails?
First, don’t panic. Your campaign is not the only that has failed. This is a common problem among creators. The membership-driven industry is a crowded one and often it takes time to nail the right niche for you and your business. So where do you go from here?
The best part of failure is the lessons that come with it as there’s always room for improvement. According to a Bloomberg study, most creators and entrepreneurs that fail find more success the second time around due to the gained experience from the failure.
We want to arm you with a robust toolkit on how to look back at what went wrong, introspective questions you should ask, and advice on how to move forward to turn your failed launch into a successful one.
Did you validate your idea? If so, how.
Just like successful startups and small businesses, it’s important to validate your idea with a test group. The few individuals on your beta group can give you feedback on your approach, content quality and how to price your services. This will give you a good idea of whether you’re on the right path.
This is an important step as many membership sites don’t get off the ground due to not finding the right approach. Don’t just share with friends — while helpful, they may still have a blind spot. Instead, use some of your newsletter subscribers or offer an open sign-up to your social media followers. They can be your soundboard.
Think about how you went about your research the first time. Did you reach out to more than a handful of people in your community? How much time did you spend listening to their pain points? Did you ask sufficient questions to build a data-driven business model?
Ask for feedback
Without feedback, it’s impossible to improve on your idea and understand what your audience wants. It’s okay if this part takes a while, that time will pay off when your idea is focused enough to succeed. Remember you’re solving a problem with a new perspective, it’s not easy and sometimes it takes a bit more footwork.
Start testing your ideas with members of the community you want to target and ask them what they would like to see from you (whether it’s a blog, podcast or video).
Visit forums like Quora to see the questions being asked about the services you want to offer through your membership site — make it a two-way conversation. Find your potential members and talk to them where they are.
If you have a large social media following or newsletter list, leverage those numbers for a survey. Ask the potential audience about your expertise and how you can use it to help them. Avoid the build it the site and they will come approach — your potential members are out there, but without knowing what your value is, they will most likely not find you.
Understand the data
Once you’ve recorded your test group’s feedback and obtained data from your social media posts, blog comments, and the like — it’s time to filter out the useful pointers. While your audience is going to help you mold how your membership site will look like, you still need to keep in mind that they’re only a part of the overall process. You’ll also take your expertise into consideration plus any related market trends.
If you have a blog, Google Analytics will be a great resource when it comes to pinpointing your most popular content. It will also be useful for setting goals for traffic and reach. This is also when your first failed launch campaign comes in handy. Tap into the few subscribers that enrolled on your membership site and get to know their thoughts on your content and why they chose to subscribe. Listen to what they have to say as it might be helpful during your relaunch.
This is a great way to tap into your current subscribers as well if you’ve hit a plateau in your growth — reaching out to your current community and asking them what they want to see makes them feel valued and part of the conversation.
It’s time to launch… again
Now that you have a better idea of the problem you’re solving and know how to keep people engaged through your expert content, it’s time to launch again. We know you’re nervous, but since you’ve been building up an audience via social media, your blog and/or newsletter, know that you’re in the company of your community.
Start teasing the launch and offer a free trial or add-on bonus if they sign up by a certain date. Often if there’s an e-book or extra value attached with the subscription, your audience will see that you’re there to support them. If you’re re-launching your site, this is a great time to show your appreciation for your long-term members and offer them a token of appreciation. For marketing purposes, invite other colleagues to share your new venture, offer cross-marketing opportunities for them, and/or bring them on as guests on your site.
Engaging with other thought leaders in your field will elevate your authority and your potential audience will seek out your expertise. This is when good connections come in handy as advisors and mentors will help you expand within their networks too.
In the end, don’t fall into the trap that you can’t pivot once your membership offering is live. As you start onboarding members, don’t stop there. Make sure to check in with your members monthly and make sure they’re receiving valuable content and continue to keep the feedback loop open.