The way I figure it, there are three types of people when it comes to asking for directions:
- The Explorer. It’s not how fast you get there, it’s how much you discover on the way. How else would you find out about that cow museum?
- The Cartographer. If you’ve got a map, you’ve got a way. So what if it’s ten years old and has coffee stains?
- The Communicator. If you want to get somewhere, ask someone who’s already been there.
And sometimes, especially when the destination is off the beaten path -- like creating a membership website and keeping it running -- a person can be all three.
Not that we’re always willing to make the transition between them. For entrepreneurs, paving our own way is almost an ethical obligation. Stopping to ask for directions and letting someone else guide us isn’t painless.
But if you want to sell memberships -- and you want to sell as many of them as quickly as you can -- hearing from the people who’ve been there can be the difference between a frustrating year and keeping your sanity.
So without further delay, here are five expert tips for running your membership website that I definitely could’ve used when I started mine.
Tip #1: If you want to engage your members, open the floor with polls
Have you ever had a teacher that was unquestionably brilliant, but try as you might, you were dozing in the first five minutes of every lecture?
It’s an affliction common to education and membership websites alike.
Because no matter how wonderful your assets are or how helpful your content is, your audience is still passive without direct forms of interaction.
Simply put, there’s nothing to engage them.
Professional promoters struggle with this puzzle, too. Trailing behind content quality, marketers rank engagement as their second greatest struggle with establishing credibility for a brand or business and building trust. Online course creators like Reuven Lerner echo this sentiment, saying that the value of engagement can't be understated, though the mark is easy to miss.
She recommends using interactive content, explaining: “One of the great inventions of the 21st post dot com bust were [sic] marketing technologies that could gather customer information, behaviors and insights in the easiest ways possible.”
For Invesp, she uses a platform called FigPii to run polls. For your membership website, Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, and Typeform are all excellent -- and free -- solutions. Facebook and Twitter also have polling features.
Ayat is no stranger to engagement, by the way. Just check out how Invesp ranks globally:
So if there’s anyone you should take advice from for keeping your members pumped, she’s a great place to start.
Polls aren’t just a way to benefit your membership website in the short term, as an aside. Improving engagement is also critical to keep your member retention numbers up and stabilizing your recurring revenue.
Research conducted on how surveys and polls influence customers found that a year after customers were asked for feedback, they were half as likely to have canceled their service or moved to a competitor and generated more profits than those who hadn’t been engaged.
Lay’s often uses this method as part of their new product development and marketing campaigns with off-the-wall flavors that encourage users to participate in the shape of the business.
E!News, reporting on said flavors, makes an especially meta follow-up example:
Just a quick word of caution when you’re setting up your polls. If you’re using an email platform like MailChimp (which we integrate with, if you didn’t know) to send out your polls, make sure you’re designing for mobile devices.
Over 33% of surveys in 2017 were completed on a mobile device.
This is the gist of it:
If you want to engage your members -- and you should if you want to keep them as long-time customers -- use polls. Just asking for feedback makes them more likely to stay with you in the long-run.
Tip #2: Create a community for members to support each other (And interact with you)
Interactions through polls are a strong start for boosting engagement on your membership website, but they’re not the full monty.
For that, you need good ole’ fashioned connection, says Melissa Norris of Pioneering Today. In an interview with Amy Porterfield, she explained how community connections have become the cornerstone of her membership program.
“Honestly, the private Facebook group has been one of the biggest assets to the whole membership site,” she told Amy, “The group is a true community, which happens in your private Facebooks but doesn’t happen in every single one I’ve been a part of with courses.”
Her results may sound surprising, but they make sense when you consider that 30% of people on Facebook are connected with people they’ve never met in the offline world.
That’s the real beauty of social media. It creates a rich web of human connection irrespective of distance and demographic where people can come together for a shared interest.
And in the case of membership sites, having a community elevates the program to more than just the sum of its parts. It creates a collective tribe that’s supportive, engaging, and benefits everyone -- your customers and you -- involved.
You don’t have to create a ton of content to make them thrive, either. User-generated content -- i.e., posts from members -- uplifted growth by 923% for one entrepreneur.
Facebook not quite your speed? No problem. If you have a more technologically-savvy audience, Slack is another free solution where you can create a community, functioning very similar to the internet relay chat systems of the days of yore.
Digital Freelancer uses this system as part of their community-based membership.
It also has over 750 native integrations alongside Google Drive support, which makes it significantly more powerful than Facebook Groups for more productivity-centered membership programs.