Let’s say you start a book club.
A friend joins.
Between the two of you, things run pretty smoothly.
But eventually, you start to repeat the same recommendations and run out of tried-and-true authors to read, and you need new blood to keep the book club alive.
Which means you have to start fielding potential recruits.
Your membership website is the same way -- except instead of your next binge-read, it’s your income on the line, and those recruits are customers.
So you have to market. You have to hit the ground running and hustle to get more people in the door so your website doesn’t stagnate and dash your dreams (along with your revenue).
But take heart. If you’ve got your membership software figured out, you’ve done the stressful part. The marketing is a piece of cake, and we’ll show you how today.
First though, let’s have a quick fireside chat just so we’re all on the same page:
How do you market a membership website?
Membership websites aren’t that different from marketing your online courses. In fact, you can use many of the same tactics with little-to-no augmentation to promote your membership website. In some cases, the strategies are identical.
But the critical part to remember about marketing your membership is this:
The best marketing strategies work in synergy with other marketing strategies. There’s nothing wrong with only focusing on one thing -- like blogging and SEO -- but to make the most out of your efforts, you should be tying in as many marketing activities as you can.
Professional marketers juggle a lot of priorities in their day to day, and they’re all aligned to different forms of marketing.
For example, just in this list of their top priorities, you can see multiple forms of marketing.
- Content marketing: blog creation, content distribution, creation, and long-form.
- Visual marketing: infographics
- Video marketing: how-to videos and webinars
- Search engine marketing: growing SEO
And that’s not even considering the various channels where they have to invest their funds. Those are just as diverse as their priorities, with the majority of professionals investing in their websites, email marketing, event marketing, and field sales.
And you should, too. But, before you hit the backpedal, that doesn’t mean you have to use so many buzzwords that your hair starts rocking some yellow and black stripes.
You can dip your toes into marketing as slowly and gently as you need, and even just a few strategic decisions can help your bottom line.
Finding your software and creating your membership website was the grunt work. Marketing is just the polish you need to give it a shine, whether you're launching a new product or buffing out the dents on an existing product.
So, how do you market a membership website?
In as many ways as you can. Here are five of my favorite methods.
#1. Create a testimonials page on your website
Do you know why we like to show off our members and their experience on our examples page?
Beyond the fact that they’re all fantastic, inspiring people (this is an actual fact), when they talk about their experience, they give Podia social proof through their testimonials.
It helps humanize the products we’re offering and persuade creators to take the leap with us. Or, put another way, it gets the humans on the other end of the screen to trust us enough to commit to learning more about us.
That’s why we love this strategy for online courses and membership websites.
But unlike online courses, a membership website has to make a much stronger case. You’re not just talking about how this one product can help a customer right now, you have to defend how your membership can keep supporting them month-to-month or year-to-year, whether it's a resource cache type of membership or a mastermind group.
And for making that case, we recommend including a testimonial page by itself as part of your membership website.
We do it, and Flexjobs, a subscription-only job board for flexible work, does it too.
Did I mention that testimonials also drive more organic (free) traffic to your page, thereby extending your marketing reach? Nice, right?
If you don’t have enough testimonials to fill up a page, you can still get the benefits of a well-placed testimony by placing them directly on your pricing page the way Statista does for their premium membership.
Podia’s editor makes this a breeze to do, by the way. For the best results, set your testimonials up with a visual layout.
AdEspresso ran an experiment pitting testimonials against highly visual ads, and the ads consistently outperformed the testimonies because of their visual format.
Fortunately, this is something else that Podia has you covered on.
As an example:
If you have enough testimonials to compile a page, make one and show off your membership program’s benefits and real-life users.
If you don’t, you can still build trust by putting it on your pricing page directly. For the best results, include an image of your user -- it’ll resonate more with visitors than text alone.
#2. Promote content on Facebook
In general, we try to avoid marketing strategies on Podia where it’s going to cost you.
But we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention promoted content. Free marketing efforts like the first tip can work, but they aren’t going to give you overnight success.
Rapid growth requires rapid expenditures, too.
Fortunately, it comes with a tidy ROI, as well. Paid promotion on Facebook helped garner results like the below for one marketer’s client.
Granted, these results are far from typical, but Facebook has a long history of a strong ROI for marketers from every walk of life.
Specifically, Facebook ads -- not promoted posts -- have the most consistent backing, though both can be appropriate, and promoted posts are much cheaper.
The sales difference between a Facebook ad and a promoted post was a little over $4,000 for one team. So it costs more, but it provides more, too.
Which is probably why 95% of professionals say Facebook advertising gives them the best ROI of any social media platform and costs less than other channels.
You can advertise your membership with the platform, but you might also want to consider advertising your free content. It’ll rope more people in than a direct sales pitch and help you nurture otherwise cold leads.
And, thanks to Facebook’s Audience tool, you can reach over one billion users with your content.
They may not be ready to join your membership program yet, but there’s a good chance they’re prepared to get something free.
Becky Mollenkamp uses this strategy with her online courses.
(She’s pulling in $10,000 with her membership, by the way. Just thought I’d mention that.)
You see the same thing with Rachel Ngom’s free Pinterest masterclass.
Facebook advertising isn’t free, but it’s more cost-effective than promotion programs on other social networks, can reach over one billion users, and if you give potential customers an incentive to click -- like free content -- you’re that much closer to bulking up your membership.