Membership site handbook
A practical guide to building a successful subscription business.
Chapter Six: Growing
Congratulations! You conducted hours of research, grew your audience from the ground up, perfected your niche expertise, and bundled it all together for the perfect membership site launch. It’s time to relax and rake in the dough, right? Wrong! Now is the time to keep the momentum going by boosting your membership numbers, revenue, and retention, and decreasing churn. It may seem overwhelming, but luckily, we’re sharing actionable strategies you can use to keep your current audience happy, attract new members, and scale your site for sustainable growth.
Retain current members
While attracting new members make sure to implement strategies that keep your current members happy! This starts with onboarding: Your members are most motivated when they first sign up, so you want to make sure they have all the resources, coaching, and tools they need to get the most out of your membership site in those first few days and weeks. A good place to begin is with a “getting started” page that introduces what comes with your membership subscription and informs members on how they can get the most value out of your membership is a great way to get members immediately immersed in your program. It's also a good idea to survey your customers. HubSpot shared actionable ways to decrease your churn rate and one of the most effective strategies they suggest is asking customers for feedback often. Consider sending a regular survey to your members asking them what they find most valuable about their membership. Then, leverage that member feedback to drive down your churn rate.
To furthur encourage membership engagement you can add discussion forums, host an AMA, or even have offline events that can help your members feel like they’re more than just a number. Another great way to maintain members is by offering a reward program. Think of the reward programs you may have experienced at your favorite coffee shop: You most likely enjoy the program not only because of the gratification of collecting punches or stars but because it reinforces your status as not just a customer, but as a member of their community. The same applies to your membership site. If you start a reward program, remember that there are multiple ways to reward membership loyalty, but the most important piece is to always over-deliver on value and let members know they will continue to receive substantial, consistent benefits, by being an active part of your community.
Attract new members
One of the questions you’ll want to answer post-launch is “how do I continue to grow the number of members I have?” As a creative, selling might not come naturally to you, but it’s an important skill you’ll want to build if you want your membership offering to be successful. To draw into members, make sure that all of your social media pages have a link to your membership landing page, promote membership program to your email list, and offer promotions and sign up incentives. Another strategy that can be key to your membership growth strategy (when done properly) is affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing gives the most loyal and excited members of your audience a chance to evangelize on your behalf. Who better to share the perks of your membership offering than those who are actually benefiting from it? Getting your members involved in your marketing by rewarding them with a percentage of commission for new signups is a win-win situation.
Scale for sustainability
Membership sites rarely need a large number of resources to run effectively which is great news when it comes to scaling your business. In a post titled “How to Start and Grow a Profitable Membership Website“ by Mike Morrison of The Membership Guys, shared that refining things like content production and community management can help you scale your membership site. He also suggests keeping your audience engaged by offering things like events, small group coaching, and even adding additional membership tiers.
When you’re growing your membership business, it’s important to evolve as you go. That means making changes that focus on what is working and eliminating what’s not — even when it comes to your original pricing. Can you offer higher tier services to boost your revenue? Are you charging enough for your memberships? If you’re running an online publication, you may offer higher tiered pricing to subscribers who want to join a forum, but lower tiered pricing for subscribers who just want to download your content.
The most important thing to remember as you scale is to continue implementing all of the successful strategies you implemented prelaunch. This includes continuing to conduct research, getting constant feedback from members, and optimizing you site for growth. Persistently refine how you create your content, how you engage with and attract members, and never forget that offering real value is what sustains a successful membership site.