3 ways to attract more long term members

Memberships are all about the long game; no matter how many members you get in the door, the ones that stay are the lifeblood of your membership business!

You’ve probably seen all kinds of examples of grandiose promises and sneaky marketing tricks that seem to hook new customers into buying things – maybe even you! And all of this stuff does work. Why else would businesses keep doing it?

But, when it comes to memberships, these tactics can only get you so far. At the end of the day, you want your members to keep paying month after month, and that requires a different approach.

Let’s talk about three strategies you can use to attract these long-term members.

Qualify your members

Making sure your members are the right fit for your membership is actually more important than you might think – and it could even be worth dissuading members who are the wrong match. Why? Because, quite simply, people don’t like it when they’ve given their hard-earned money to a business that doesn’t ultimately help them achieve their goals.

And unhappy customers can do a lot of damage (or at least take up a lot of your time and effort) if they really want to.

Here are two scenarios you don’t want:

  1. A member who isn’t clear on what they’re signing up for pays for your membership for a month or two, only to leave once they realize the membership isn’t what they really needed.
  2. A dormant or idle member forgets to cancel their membership, which seems like a good deal for you at first because you’re getting their money anyway. However, they end up frustrated and feeling like they’ve been paying you for nothing all along, potentially stirring up some resentment and bad feelings toward your brand.

Sure, there’s only so much you can do about members who don’t take the time to inform themselves about your membership, or members who mean to cancel, but forget. But, making sure you have the right people signing up – the people who are going to be engaged – is a start.

Both of these scenarios give you money in the short term, but create more frustration, annoyance, and hassle in the long term – for you and the member. If you’ve ever experienced dealing with members who are more trouble than they’re worth, you’ll understand this point very easily.

Remember: It’s important to factor in the time and effort you spend on things like support tickets, refunds, and acquiring new members to make up for lost ones. Some businesses may thrive on converting one-off sales without consideration for customer retention, but most membership businesses cannot afford to operate this way.

In large part, qualifying your members comes down to marketing. You want to be sure that you’re reaching the best possible potential members, so that those who sign up are going to be with you for the long haul. But how do you do that?

A few marketing tips

  • Make sure your sales pages are accurate. People want to know exactly what they’re getting for their money, so the less ambiguity, the better! 
  • Keep your pricing clear and transparent. You want to be sure that members who sign up are fully aware of the costs they will incur.
  • Understand your existing member base. Who are your superstar members? Who’s regularly engaged with your member community and committed to your content? What traffic sources are bringing those members in? What are their user behaviors? What are their demographics? Use all of this information to fine-tune your marketing.
  • Make sure you’re advertising to the right audience. If you want members who are firmly committed to your niche and more likely to last, you might consider targeting professionals instead of hobbyists, for example. On the other hand, some niches are entirely dedicated to passionate hobbyists, fans, or other non-professional users. Whoever is going to be more committed is who you want on board.
  • Ask new members to take a survey. This gives you the opportunity to find out important data about member goals, interests, lifestyles, learning styles, content preferences, referral sources, and much more. You can use this information to further refine your marketing strategies according to which members stick around the longest.

When you focus your efforts on members who are truly qualified for your membership, you’re able to simplify and streamline the whole process for yourself and your team. Plus, qualified members end up being more satisfied and loyal members, which ultimately means more reliable revenue for you.

Not everyone is perfectly suitable for your membership – and that’s okay!

Embrace content marketing

Publishing quality free content is one of the best ways to bring new potential members to your website, but it’s more than just the traffic; content marketing serves to educate your audience and help them along their journey on whatever topic(s) that you cover.

Building a foundation of content allows you to speak to different segments of your audience, and lead them up to the point where they are primed and ready for your membership. For example, if your membership site is focused around fitness courses, you might create free content that attracts people who are new to fitness, educates them on the basics, and gives them the momentum to level up their progress by signing up for your membership.

Or, you could offer content that leads them to different membership pathways, such as strength, weight loss, flexibility, and endurance.

On that note…

Create member pathways

Long-term member value is huge for membership site success – and it’s derived from the lifetime journey of your members. More specifically, it’s the path a member takes to go from A to Z, reach a goal, or otherwise exhaust the benefits of your membership.

Member pathways provide guidance to your members and help them stay engaged and committed over the long term. Herein lies another strategy for attracting members who will stick around.

Take the time to identify the different types of members that will benefit from your content, including their end goals and the projected milestones along the way. Where are they starting from? At what point in their journey do they need your content most? How can you show up and give them exactly what they need at the right time?

Once you have a handle on this stuff, you can more easily craft member pathways that speak to the people who are more likely to jump aboard the train – and stay there.

It takes time

The relationships you build with your members – and their ongoing financial commitments to you – are based on trust. This doesn’t happen overnight!

Figuring out how to qualify your members, building a foundation of free quality content, and creating individual member pathways are all processes that take time to refine. But, since it’s the long game that you’re after, instant results aren’t necessarily what you’re going for anyway.

Hopefully this post has given you some inspiration to help you attract the best (and most loyal) members for your membership site, so you can nurture something sustainable and built to last!

What have you found effective for attracting long-term members? Tell us your favorite strategies in the comments below!

Mandy Jones

About the author: Mandy Jones is a content writer at Sandhills Development and founder of Looplicious. Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, she's a world traveler and animal lover with a passion for creativity and maker culture. When she’s not writing blog posts for Easy Digital Downloads, Restrict Content Pro, and AffiliateWP, she can be found hanging out with other people’s dogs, or writing, recording, and performing music.

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