I truly believe that, when done right, any entrepreneur can find a valuable application for a membership site in their business. When deploying a new membership site, there are a handful of things that can make or break your success. Here are four ideas that can help propel you to success and three missteps that will greatly inhibit your progress.
4 Actions To Take Now (The Do's)
1. Test your offering - The key idea here is to test early and test often in order to avoid making fatal assumptions about your membership model. The best way to do this is to build a minimum viable product (MVP) that’s designed to test your hypothesis and assumptions, then get it in front of your customers as soon as possible. This will allow you to begin collecting feedback with which you can iterate and improve your product until you've created something that’s highly relevant and valuable to your audience.If you could benefit from step-by-step instructions to walk you through this process please check out our guide, Nearly Instant Profits.
2. Know your metrics - Identifying and monitoring the right metrics is key to long-term membership site success. Basic metrics should include MRR (monthly recurring revenue), new members, churn rate, lifetime value, member engagement, and cost per acquisition. These may vary (i.e. you may not be billing via a monthly subscription, etc) or include other measurements depending on your specific model. Regardless, knowing your key business metrics and understanding what drives them will always illuminate the path to faster growth and more success.
3. Map out your current member journey - Unlike most traditional business models, the real work in a subscription business begins after the purchase is made. Member retention is the key to long-term growth, and in order to retain your members you’ll need to understand the outcomes your members desire and intentionally design your member experience to help them achieve those goals. By creating a journey map of every step and process in your existing member experience, you’ll be able to more easily identify and eliminate parts of the experience that distract from or aren’t aligned with your members’ goals. Building a true customer-focused organization can sometimes take years and may require a cultural shift in your business, however creating a customer/member journey map is an excellent way to kick off the process.
4. Provide a success path - This idea is closely related to the previous point I made about aligning your membership site experience with the outcomes your customers want. I can't stress this enough; if you want to build a successful membership business, you ultimately need to help your members be more successful. One of the best ways I know of to help members be more successful is to provide a success path that guides members through your membership content in a way that naturally leads them to the successful outcomes they desire. If you‘re able to create that clear path and communicate it to your members, you'll help more of them be successful and create significantly more growth in your business.
3 Actions To Avoid (The Don’ts)
1. Kicking your members off a cliff - “Kicking your members off a cliff” occurs in your membership site when members are presented with a significant or overwhelming amount of content right at the start and you provide little or no guidance for them about where to start and what to do in order to reach their goals. In other words, this is the exact opposite of the success path concept mentioned above. When you dump a bunch of content on top of your members right in the beginning (even if that content is extremely valuable), you are essentially asking them to figure out on their own what content is needed, at what time, and in what order. Welcome to the fast track to unhappy members and poor member retention. If you discover that a cliff exists in your membership site...don’t freak out you’re not alone--but do fix it as quickly as you can! Remember that when you ask members to identify their path to success you’re essentially kicking them off a cliff (and usually without a parachute), and we all know how that is likely to end.
2. Giving away too much for free - A freemium or free trial model can be a powerful way to grow your membership but jumping into a freemium model before testing one can be a recipe for disaster. How long should your trial run; 30 days, 7 days, 3 days? What content is necessary in order to inspire confidence and create demand for your paid offerings? When and how should you collect your customer’s billing information? These are just a few of the many questions you’ll need to answer before launching a free trial or freemium offering. As a general rule, it’s always easier to move from paid content to a free trial than the other way around, so if you’re not sure to start then I recommend paid content first.
3. Starting a membership site just because everybody else is - Like I said at the beginning of this post, "any entrepreneur can find a valuable application for a membership site in their business". However, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Membership sites are growing rapidly in popularity for good reason, however if you start one for the wrong reasons (i.e. because it’s the popular thing to do, or because you think it’s an easy path to recurring revenue, etc), it can actually do more damage than good.. A membership site takes a lot of strategy and work. The best reason to start one is because you see it as a better way to serve your customers. When created for the right reasons and fueled with the necessary commitment, membership sites can truly be one of the best paths to more financial freedom and success.
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