Membership sites are a great way to monetize your content, promote offerings to a loyal community and increase your revenue. There are also many challenges to handling memberships, the biggest of which is retaining members.
Members are the lifeblood of your business, so you obviously want to keep them on for as long as possible. It costs more to attract new members than it does to retain them, so if you want a sustainable and profitable business model, retention should be your number one priority.
Thankfully, there’s a no-fail, sustainable strategy for demonstrating your value and encouraging members to keep subscribing: exclusive, members-only content.
People love being a part of a select in-group, especially if you have a well-known organization. But exclusivity isn’t the only thing that your membership site should offer. You need to publish content that’s more than worth the price of subscription. And you need to do it over and over again so that they keep coming back.
In this post we’ll talk about seven different ways that you can leverage members-only content to increase the average lifetime value of your members. And you don’t even have to incorporate every single technique into your content strategy – add a few that are most relevant to your target market, and you’re sure to see better retention rates and higher revenues in the long run.
1. Foster Connections
Pair existing members with new members
This could be through a formal or informal mentorship program. You can create a members-only form on your website where new members can submit their goals and answer questions about their ideal mentor. Pair one member with another. Set a time frame for engagement and encourage mentors and mentees to have regular check-ins to ensure that everyone is making progress towards their goals. Women Communicators of Austin has a successful mentorship program that is a fantastic member retention tool for both mentors and mentees.
Use your website, email and social media platforms to celebrate member achievements
Create a member only form for them to submit their good news. For example, if one of your members recently started a successful business, they can submit this form so you can give them a shout out. This makes members feel good about belonging and helps members get to know each other better. You can also note member career advancements or personal accomplishments; what you choose to mention and promote may vary depending upon the focus of your group. For example, a hiking club might celebrate a member’s completion of the Appalachian Trail while a trade association can highlight members who attain a professional certification. You can keep it simple by sharing a member’s social media post or go more in-depth by interviewing the member, writing a blog post and then sharing that on social media and in your newsletter.
Ask members to lead workshops, serve on panels or guest post
It’s a win-win when you can promote a member and have work taken off your own plate. Members are a great resource for panel members, speakers and blog post writers. Be sure to mention their membership status so that other members feel good about their decision to purchase membership. Let other members know that these kinds of opportunities could be available to them as well. One way to do this is to include a link to a form where members can submit their ideas on how they could contribute.
2. Reward Member Loyalty with Different Tiers
One of the biggest roadblocks to signing up and retaining membership is the price. Many people are hesitant to add another expense, especially if it’s a recurring monthly payment. There are a number of ways to break down this barrier:
- Offer discounts for longer membership periods. For example, a month-to-month subscription might cost $49 or $588 a year. But if they commit to 12 months off the bat, you can lower that to $450 a year. You make less per month, but you’re also guaranteed a subscriber for the next year. If the savings are big enough, many will consider signing up for longer periods.
- Offer multiple price points for different levels of access to member benefits. You can have an affordable “basic” tier that gives members access to blog posts and other content, and then a more advanced tier that comes with additional support, access to post deals or perhaps a listing in the member directory. Another great thing about this method is that some people will sign up for a cheaper tier first, and then later decide to upgrade to a more expensive one.
- Provide discounts to returning members. Are renewal rates headed downward? You can set up discount codes in your membership plugin
By giving members more control over how much they’re spending, you’ll get more people to sign up and stay members. Plus it doesn’t require that much extra work on your part – the content you create will stay the same, it’s just the pricing model or content restriction level that changes from member to member.
3. Use Urgency and Scarcity
Most people have a natural FOMO, or fear of missing out. If they think that a product or service is going to run out soon, it encourages them to act now before they miss out on their chance to secure it. This works even if the customer isn’t 100% sold on your service.
Plus, we as humans naturally associate scarcity with value, even if the scarcity is “manufactured.” Think about Birkin bags – Birkin only makes a few thousand bags a year, and they strictly regulate how many each customer can buy. Some even have to stay on a waitlist for years just for the chance to buy one. Although you’re probably not a luxury bag seller, the same principles can apply to your membership site. By using scarcity and urgency, you can persuade members to keep signing up.
So how does that work in practice?
One way to go about it is through limited-time deals. For example, you can have exclusive offers, such as a workshop or online event, that is only available for a limited time and for specific members. This will give non-members a sense of urgency to sign up, while driving current members to sign up to your newest offering.
You can also limit the number of people who can sign up for these events or workshops. This will give a sense of exclusivity and scarcity. Members will want to sign up to ensure they’re getting the latest and most valuable information from your website. Use your sign up form fields and settings to ensure you can weed out and sort members that are most suitable for your offerings. For events, you can offer early bird pricing to create urgency. Offering early bird pricing isn’t enough, though. You have to also promote the early bird pricing when sharing the event on social media, member newsletters, and elsewhere.
4. Personalize Content for Members
No matter how many members you have on your website, it’s important to keep the personal human element. We all love to feel seen and acknowledged as an individual and not just as “someone on your email list.” The more personalized your content is, the more likely they will relate to it. And the more your members relate to it, the more likely they’ll keep subscribing to your website.
There are many ways that you can personalize members-only content:
- Customize a welcome video for each new member. This could be time-consuming depending on how many members you have, but there are ways to make the process faster. For example, you can film the first section with a personalized greeting (again, using their name), then cut to a pre-filmed section that explains how your website works.
- Ask members what kind of content they want to see on your website. This will make it more collaborative and ensure that you’re keeping members engaged with content they are most interested in.
- Create different kinds of content for different kinds of learners. Some may consume information better through a blog post, while others may prefer videos, infographics or even pure audio content.
- Give them access to you through one-on-one consultations. If you have different membership tiers, one of the higher ones can include video calls or even in-person meetups as a special perk.
- Don’t forget to thank people for their membership! Be open about how their subscriptions help grow what you can offer the community.
5. Exclusive Offers and Discounts
When you’re choosing a credit card or loyalty rewards program, one of the things you look for is the perks. It’s the same with a membership website – your members-only content might be the main sell, but discounts and freebies are the cherries on top.
- Create member only events or sell discounted member tickets. Members love seeing that their membership is helping them get a discounted registration or access to events that only members can attend. You don’t need to gate keep your event registration; your membership plugin can do the work for you.
- Partner with other businesses or members themselves to offer exclusive discounts. This will make members think twice about canceling or moving to another membership organization. These could be listed on a member deals page.
- Set certain products or services as members-only. For example, you can launch a new T-shirt design that only members can buy. This is a great idea for organizations that already have an active and loyal customer base that would jump at the new product. You can also offer special membership discounts, like 10% off purchases. Pricing is a huge factor here. If your average customer spends $10 a year on your offerings, a $50 membership is out of the question. But if they spend $1,000 or more, that same $50 starts looking like a steal.
6. Special Privilege and Access
Chances are, there’s something you’re really skilled or knowledgeable in. Members-only content allows people to tap into your expertise…in exchange for a subscription to your site, of course.
- Provide access to in-depth guides are a great value-add to any membership website. However, long-form content takes a lot of time, money and energy to produce. Unless your guides are just that good, it’s not the easiest way of retaining members.
- An exclusive blog post, webinar or short video clip can keep members coming back for more. The important thing is that there’s a steady enough stream of members-only content to justify how much you’re asking in subscription fees. Your content should also be unique and high-level. If people can find the exact same information elsewhere for free, there’s no way they’ll shell out money every month for membership.
Content idea: Conduct a member survey about hot topics in their industry or area of interest. Then publish the results, but require a member login to view them. Salary survey results are big attention getters.
- Membership tiers can play into this as well. Provide different levels of access – for example, “basic” members can check out your online content, while higher levels get that plus insider tips, phone calls and invites to special events.
7. Provide Early Access and Sneak Peeks
If you decide that you don’t want to restrict access to site content completely, there’s another way to provide extra value with your membership website. Members can test run new products or read content before anyone else. Many people are willing to pay to get their hands on something first, especially if there are many others waiting in the wings for it.
This is similar to signing up for beta programs for apps. Members can get early access to new features, offerings or products. Not only will this give a sense of exclusivity to your members, you can also gather feedback and comment from them to make improvements. Let’s say that you want to roll out a new member benefit like a mentor program, but you’re not sure if your members will like it. You can release the benefit to certain members and then monitor their feedback.
Get Started with Members Only Content
Whether you’re an e-commerce business, a membership organization or someone who just wants to monetize their blog, members-only content is a great way to make money. The secret to a profitable membership site? Keep your members coming back for more.
You can provide a special members-only section on your website, tailor your content for different members and offer exclusive discounts. But above all, provide exceptional value. If members feel like they’re getting more than their money’s worth, you won’t have any problem keeping those subscriptions up.
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