6 DOs and DON'Ts when running a membership site

Starting a membership site and looking for some guidance? Already running a membership site and want some tips? There are a few things we have to mention!

Setting up and maintaining a successful membership site involves a lot of moving parts, with a strategy that differs from other digital business models. Whether we’re talking about the way revenue is generated, the way members interact with your business, or the way content is created, delivered, and consumed, there are some unique things to keep in mind.

In this post, we cover some of our biggest DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to running a membership site! 

1. DON’T neglect your existing members

Look, it can be really exciting to convert new sales and onboard new members – and you should treat new members with care! But, not at the expense of your existing members.

The reason this is so important is because memberships work on a system of recurring revenue, not just one-off purchases. So, it follows that you should be paying attention to the people who are going to give you that recurring revenue.

Understanding the long-term value of your members is crucial if you want to nurture a membership site that lasts. Your existing members provide more than just revenue; They can give you important feedback that you can use to improve your membership site and create new content – and they contribute to your member community, boost member engagement, and they can even provide support to other members.

Plus, aside from the importance of member retention for the long-term success of your business, it simply costs less to retain members than acquire new ones.

2. DO gamify your memberships

Making your membership site “sticky” is one of the best things you can do for member engagement – and the more engaged your members are, the more likely they’ll keep paying for your membership month after month!

But “sticky” sites do what, exactly? Well, they inspire members to return to the site on a regular basis for one reason or another. So, how do you achieve this?

Enter gamification.

Game-like elements have been a part of the business world for years. Just think about things like the McDonald’s Monopoly game, or something as simple as loyalty punch cards. These things make the customer want to keep coming back to the business to win the game, complete a challenge, or get rewards of some kind.

You can apply these principles to your membership site, too! In fact, many membership sites thrive on gamification.

Here are a few simple ways you can use game-like elements on your membership site:

  • Members unlock new content by completing prerequisites
  • Members win achievement badges and awards by completing content
  • Members collect points to win rewards

3. DON’T stop producing new content

Once you get your membership site up and running with a decent amount of content, it can be tempting to relax on the content production front. While you should build some breaks for yourself into your schedule, it can be a mistake to stop producing new content.

Instead, find ways to make your content production process more efficient, such as creating content in batches, or repurposing and repackaging content in new ways. If you’re stuck for ideas, instead of worrying about creating new individual pieces of content, you could create a batch of content on a single topic and drip feed it as a series over the course of a month or two.

Creating a content strategy is also an important piece of the puzzle. It gives you a bird’s eye view that helps to direct your content creation process in an organized way, and removes some of the decision-making burden that can get on top of you when you’re lost for ideas.

As a part of your content strategy, schedule out your topics and publish dates and stick to them! Aim to publish new content at least a few times per week.

4. DO build a community around your membership site

Memberships give you the unique ability to nurture the community element that some other types of digital businesses just don’t inspire to the same degree. Members who are dedicated enough to your content to stick around on a monthly basis are also more likely to participate in a community, too.

Consider creating an exclusive Facebook group, Slack channel, or online forum for your members. This not only enables them to interact with each other and have a more enjoyable experience on your site; it also lessens your support load by allowing members to answer each other’s questions and learn from one another.

5. DON’T forget about member onboarding

Member onboarding is extremely important if you want your members to get up and running with your content as seamlessly as possible, and give them a positive initial experience with your site. Plus, membership sites that don’t pay attention to things like onboarding also tend to have significantly higher member churn than those with thorough onboarding sequences – and you don’t want that!

At the very least, take the time to create a member onboarding email sequence that welcomes new members to your site, lets them know where they can find things, and gives them an easy way to contact you if they need help.

In his guest post for Restrict Content Pro called How to onboard new members like a pro, Travis Northcutt of Member Up suggests a sequence of 7 or more emails, including a purchase confirmation email, welcome email, check-in email, and various others designed to keep members engaged and informed.

For the most part setting up a good onboarding process is a one-time project that pays off with every new member who signs up.

Travis Northcutt (Member Up)

6. DO create a membership site because you’re passionate about it

Make no mistake: The membership model is not a passive business model. If money is the only motivator, it shows!

That’s because memberships don’t operate on one-time sales conversions – it’s all about recurring revenue and investment over the long-term. So, it’s important to create a membership site because you really want to.

That’s something you can maintain.

Solving problems for your members and providing real-world value and solutions should be your focus. Consider the ongoing value and fresh content you need to provide to keep your members coming back, and the ongoing financial commitment members make to you. The reality is, this kind of relationship is created when you have genuine passion for what you do.

Do you have some DOs and DON’Ts of your own to share? Drop us a comment below and let us know!

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *