Marketing and maintaining your membership website
Once you’ve chosen membership management software that works for your business, the last step to starting a membership website is to launch and settle in for the marketing long-haul. In this final chapter, we survey the do’s and don’ts of marketing your membership program, as well as look at strategies for reaching new customers and keeping current members happy.
No matter what tool, membership management software, or membership plugin you’ve chosen, there’s one universal truth:
You have to market your membership website to get the word out, and more importantly, start reeling members in.
Before you lose steam, though, rest assured -- creating a membership site was the hard part. After you’ve put together your membership plan and created your premium content for your members, all that remains is ensuring the path for customers to reach your products is clear. Marketing your membership website can be broken down into three stages:
Promoting your launch
Acquiring new customers
Retaining current members
Let’s take a closer look at each.
Promoting your launch
There are as many launch tactics for a new product as there are ice cream flavors. And like ice creams, most start with the same ingredient: getting to know your audience.
If the idea of researching your audience sounds daunting or difficult, here is another moment to take heart -- chances are you’ve already done a ton of customer research when you were making decisions about your membership area and your tier(s).
All you need to do now is sift through that same data to find information about your audience’s communication channels and preferences. Do they prefer to interact with brands through email marketing or social media marketing? Where do they like to hang out on the web?
(Spoiler: Facebook is probably in the answer to that last question.)
Once you have that information at hand, the next step is to create a content plan to engage your audience on those channels.
You can get the nitty-gritty on content plans over here, but the basics usually include:
Blog posts featured on an SEO-friendly platform
Email marketing (Psst: You can grab free email templates in our online course guide.)
Social media posts
Webinars (Want to learn more? Check out this guide on launching with a webinar.)
As added fuel for launch sales, you may also want to consider creating coupon codes for your earliest adopters.
Which is, if you’ve noticed the theme by now, a breeze to pull off on Podia.
Otherwise, stick to your content plan, keep up the publishing, and get ready for the long-haul.
Acquiring new customers
After the initial excitement of launching your membership wanes, you need a sustainable and long-term system for attracting not just new customers, but the right kind of new customers for your membership website.
In other words, you need a runway in place to guide leads into becoming customers, and there’s no more reliable method than providing valuable content throughout each of the three stages of the buyer's journey.
To help you get started, here are some “do’s and don’ts” for each stage of the journey.
Do regularly publish relevant, high-quality content and utilize search engine optimization (SEO) to bring organic traffic in.
Don’t overload your sales pages with unnecessary (and lag-inducing) plugins. The longer your website takes to load, the faster your visitors will bounce.
Do offer lead magnets that solve your leads’ problems in exchange for their email address, and clearly advertise how said lead magnets provide that solution.
Don’t waste your money trying to buy email lists. At best, the email lists you get from a third-party will be disengaged, and at worst, they’ll report you for spam.
Do use your email list to introduce solutions to your audience’s problem, ideally through nurture sequences that nudge your subscribers into converting into customers.
Don’t make your email and social media campaigns business-focused. People don’t want to listen to an extended sales pitch -- they want value-adds that enrich their lives and help them overcome their challenges.
Do leverage social proof and customer testimonials on your sales pages. Your prospective customers need someone they can trust about the value of your goods, and no one is more trustworthy than an already satisfied member.
Don’t hoard your top-of-the-line content for your paid memberships only. For a free membership to convert, it needs to provide demonstrable value to the users’ life.
Do display your payment gateways (PayPal, Stripe, et cetera), monthly fee information, and any other financial need-to-knows about your memberships clearly with each membership plan.
Don’t price your membership levels so far outside of your audience’s budget that it’s intimidating. Ideally, your top-of-the-line membership plan should be just more than your audience is already prepared to pay.
Do offer free memberships so users can take your membership website for a spin and experience your offers with little-to-no risk to themselves.
Don’t require financial information before users can start your free membership (like free trials, doing this will kill your conversions).
Wondering how to touch the different stages of the buyer’s journey without creating three separate landing pages? You can employ and advertise all of these do’s and don’ts with public membership posts, similar to what you see below on Mackenzie Child’s membership.
Immediately upon landing, users know the price and terms of Mackenzie’s membership plan, can see an example of his communication style and content, and scope out the comments to get a vibe for the community.
Doesn’t get much more simple than that, right?
Luckily, the same can be said for the last leg of marketing your membership -- keeping your current customers --as well.
Retaining current members
Whether you’re using an all-in-one solution or a WordPress site to host your membership, your marketing efforts shouldn’t be limited to acquiring new customers.
It’s just as, if not more, important to focus on retaining your current members. Why? Because your current customers are easier to sell to than new customers -- through your tenure together, you’ve developed a relationship and trust that’s as much as 9x cheaper to maintain than it is to start.
That goes for your one-off products, too, by the way. Have a new online course on the horizon or a digital download to sell? Your current members are more likely to convert and add it to their proverbial tab (and your not-so-proverbial bottom line) than a brand new visitor.
Plus, since you’ve already made the time and monetary investments to establish a relationship with your current customers and market to them, their one-time payments have higher profit margins for you.
As for how to ensure your current members are just as happy (if not more so) than your recently acquired customers, that’s where affiliate programs come in.
Affiliate programs are a win-win for creators and their customers, and as another major bonus, are also a cinch to launch and run on Podia.
The basic gist of how affiliate programs work is this:
A merchant (you) agrees to pay a commission to an affiliate (your customer) in exchange for making a successful sale to a new customer.
Your affiliate, using a special link, spreads the word about your product and uses their own audience to capture leads.
When a lead converts into a customer through your affiliate’s link, the sale is logged through your Podia dashboard.
You pay out your affiliate’s commission at an agreed-upon interval -- usually monthly -- from the same dashboard.
Your affiliate keeps promoting your products, bringing in new customers, and enjoying the monetary benefits of doing so.
Is there any way to keep current customers happier than kicking back the financial spoils for helping your business bloom?
Yes: Making it dead simple for them to do so.
Beyond using an intuitive and easy management system with quick payouts, you’ll want to provide your customers with as many resources as you can to successfully sell on your behalf.
In other words, you need to prepare them with marketing assets, similar to what you see in Podia’s own Refer-a-Creator program.
Outside of affiliate programs, other simple-but-vital strategies for boosting your membership retention rate include creating interactive content, eliciting and acting on regular feedback from your customers, and continuing to provide consistent value for your membership.
After all, that value is what convinced your customers to fall in love with your business in the first place, so if you want to maintain that relationship -- and you should -- then you need to keep up your end of the bargain.
But I probably don’t have to tell you that.
You’re a leader. Leading is what you were born to do -- your membership website is just the avenue where you start.
Start your membership journey
Thanks for reading our guide to creating a membership.
We hope you found it helpful.
When you’re ready for your adventure with your membership website to begin, take Podia for a free spin to host, launch, and run your membership from start to finish.
Good luck on your membership journey, and always remember that you are a leader.