What Are The Best Methods To Increase Your Membership Website’s Retention Rates?
Running a membership site can be incredibly lucrative but also very hard work. I have a lot of respect for Pat Flynn of The Smart Passive Income blog and podcast however I couldn’t disagree more with his key message that “you can run a membership website semi-passively and get income.”!
The truth is running a lucrative membership website couldn’t be passive because you need to be continually offering great content and resources to your students – and make constant improvements to your site if they will be happy to continue their premium subscriptions. Let’s face facts: the 3 month retention wall is a problem that all owners of membership websites face on a daily basis. Obviously, there are things you can do during onboarding and using email to encourage students who get to the “three month hump” not to give up on your course. But, to be realistic, one of key factors that will help you have a much higher retention level then your online competitors is having regular and different types of new content on your membership website.
In this article we’ll share some of the leading types of content you can include in your membership site to help you deliver more great value to your students
These days almost all membership sites offer online courses to their subscribers.
Yes, I know I’m stating the obvious here. All membership websites normally have courses. One of the biggest problems I see is a lot of new membership websites owners make is that they try and build too large of a first course. What you need to do is break one large course into small, mini-courses and offer students the option to buy individual courses, or a whole set of mini-courses. This has two great benefits: first, you will find a lot less resistance to buying a lower priced mini-course and second, it will increase your membership website’s retention rates.
As an online teacher, you can create courses by properly structuring the topics you’re teaching. Doing so enables your students to progress from simple to advanced levels with well-defined learning objectives.
Your mini-courses should be short (around 30-35 minutes length) depending on the topic you’re teaching and how you’ve decided to structure them.
#2: Live Webinars
Webinars, like courses, are a great way of n providing new content and also attracting new students to your membership website. The only problem is that doing successful webinars is a bit of an art form. First, you need an easy platform to do your webinars on, although you always have the option of initially using Facebook Live. However, if you really want to develop an email-marketing list and do live screen sharing it has some limitations. I would suggest that you look at a specialized webinar platform. I’ve also have had some bad experiences with using Google Hangouts for webinars. This is very competitive and changing market but “The Best Webinar Software for Marketers” is a great, relatively recent article that will give you the rundown on all of the leading webinar platforms. I personally use Zoom webinar for an additional $40 per month but I was already using Zoom (pro version) for all my video conference calls so it was easy for me to just upgrade my Zoom package. I have also found that a lot of the other platforms are using Google Hangout and just build a better interface on top of the original Google Hangout. Zoho seems to have an interesting solution called Meeting that you might want to check out.
Unlike online courses, live webinars enable you to communicate with your students in real-time. What’s more is that you can bring in guest trainers from time to time. This gives your webinar attendees a fresh perspective on the subject while taking some of the content-generation load off of your shoulders.
#3: Mastermind Calls
Similar to live webinars, mastermind calls (also known as member Q&A) work well with membership websites.
You can design the format and structure for member calls based on what your topic requires or what your members are most interested in. Generally, the main aim of mastermind calls is to encourage members to interact with you in a live environment. This gives members a platform to ask you questions, engage with one another, and share their own success stories.
There are a lot of tools available to help you conduct interactive mastermind call sessions like Google Hangouts, and Zoom. These tools let you engage with your attendees in a live environment with options to enable video chat as well. I also see a lot of membership website owners using Facebook Live to offer extra value to students who are members of a private Facebook group linked to the membership website.
#4: Content Archives
One major downside of offering any kind of live content is that your students are required to attend live in order to gain the most value from it.
One way to circumvent this problem is by recording your live classes and Q&A sessions. This way, you can create an archive of live sessions and link to them from your membership website.
There are two key benefits of creating content archives. First, if any of your students miss a live session, they will be able to catch up on their own time. Second, it’ll give new members access to all of your previous live sessions. Essentially, you’re creating an immensely valuable catalogue of content over time which both your existing students and new members will be able to benefit from.
#5: Community Forum
Community is the backbone of membership sites.
It is the reason why members continue to subscribe for many months (and sometimes even years!) even after they’ve completed your online course or training.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to have some sort of a community element to your membership site. You could, for instance, create a forum or a discussion board where members can engage with one another. However running a forum is a lot of work if you are the key administrator so a lot of membership website owners are using Facebook public or private groups. A word of caution: there can be problems using a Facebook private groups with Facebook Live for live mastermind sessions. This great article explains that in further detail.
You can offer exclusive downloadable resources to your members that they wouldn’t be get from anywhere else or would need to pay a premium to get access to them. Some ideas for downloadable resources include:
- Reading material
Most people consider it more valuable and convenient to become members on your site or subscribe to your newsletter for bundled resources than to have to gather them from different places by themselves. I see some membership owners doing deals with particular software providers sot that they can offer their membership students exclusive software packages. This can be a great idea that offers a real “win, win” situation for the membership website owner and the software company owners. To get some real insight into this area listen/watch this podcast episode from LMSCAST “How to Sell More Online Courses Via Indirect Sales and Referral Partners with Doris Nagel”
#7: Creating Community
You can create great teaching content for your members, but it ultimately depends on whether your students put in the effort to get the desired results. They will put in more effort when they feel connected to and supported by a community.
Community is a very overused word in this whole online membership sector but I really see that the owners of membership websites who can really build community into their offering are going to be the real winners in the next couple of years. But how do you do this? Well, that is the “million dollar question.” I recommend you research into is the “Open University,” which is based in the UK, and learn how they succeeded in building community connected to over 60 years experience in long distance and remote education and training.
#8 Member Perks
With so many membership sites offering great online courses, training content, and access to a supportive community, the real value you can offer your customers comes down to what they perceive value in.
Members are more likely to see tangible value if you offer them exclusive discounts, coupon codes, and perks. Find ways to connect them to all of the other things that they will need to succeed in your subject area, at a savings to them, and then build that into your membership. For example, if your students are coming to you to learn how to write a book, they may want to purchase editing services that you could acquire for them at a discount as a member’s perk.
When a prospective member sees that they can save more money on the software, tools, and services they need for their business, hobbies, or entertainment than what they’ll be spending on the membership, they’ll definitely want to become members.
#9: Standalone Content
Your membership site’s content can be much more than just a generic online course or a live class.
There is also a lot of value in standalone content such as how-to articles, tutorials, or even mini-courses. This can be content that’s designed to solve a specific problem or goes in-depth on a particular topic you’ve covered in your course. For example, if your membership site is about health and fitness, you could create standalone content pieces for specific workout routines (e.g. for women over 50).
Your standalone content can help you offer more value to your members – particularly by supplementing your existing courses with detailed resources. This can also be a great opportunity to upsell to your students, especially if you broken up your initial large course into smaller micro-courses. For example, by writing or recording additional training materials for existing student members of particular course you can open their eyes and wallets so that they understand why they should consider upgrading.
#10: Cheat Sheets
Consider offering cliff-notes, cheat sheets, and study guides to people who don’t want to go through the process of reading an entire course book.
If they have access to quick reference materials like checklists and cheat-sheets, they will be able to quickly put their learned concepts into action and refer to their reference guides whenever they need help.
These are especially useful in situations where your members just want to pattern their own activity against an established method.
#11: Workbooks and Action Plans
Along with a lot of learning material and resources, offering something that encourages your students to put into action what they have learned can be incredibly valuable.
Think of it this way: most of your members joined your site to accomplish something and not just increase their knowledge about a particular subject.
They’ve invested their time and money in your membership site to achieve a goal. What they really want is to get practical results. And to achieve those results, they need to put their knowledge into action.
You can help them do this by offering workbooks, action plans, actionable checklists, and practical exercises as key content pieces through your membership site.
You can bring in leading experts or key figures from your industry for interviews. This can help your students get first-hand information about their subject from a known, reputable source.
These interviews should be based on solid information exchange and cover specific practical areas of your subject, rather than just theoretical mumbo-jumbo or some sort of promotional motive.
Interviews will not only provide great value to your members but you can also use them to market your membership site. For instance, you can share a snippet of your interview on your blog or podcast and keep the complete interview reserved for members only.
#13: Member News
Apart from offering online courses and creating a community, you can provide some sort of digestible, daily filler content to your members.
For instance, you can share the latest news and updates with your members to keep them up-to-date regarding:
- New content releases
- News about product development on your membership site
- Quick scoops from community forums
- What your members have achieved by taking your course
You can do this by sending weekly emails to your members or even publishing news videos on a weekly (or monthly) basis. Posting these updates publicly on your site lets you market your memberships to non-members by letting them know what they can get simply by signing up.
#14: Quizzes and Surveys
If you are looking to increase the user interaction on your site, quizzes and surveys are a great way to do just that.
You will be spending much less effort by creating quizzes and surveys that supplement your existing online courses and live classes. There are a number of plugins and tools (such as Quiz and Survey Master) that you can use to easily create, distribute, and grade quizzes and send out surveys to your members. The people at LifterLMS are doing some really interesting and powerful stuff connected to quizzes with their “Advanced Quizzes” add-on.
#15: Email Newsletters
Email newsletters can be a great supplement to your membership site.
They allow you to keep in constant touch with your members as well as connect with new, prospective members.
One of the best things about a newsletter is that you can attach just about any type of content to it. Here are some ideas:
- Send subscribers an email to let them know you’ve published new content on your site.
- Curate a list of helpful resources (related blog posts, guides, infographics) that readers can benefit from.
- Information about upcoming discounts and special offers.
If you stay in touch with your members, they will be more likely to regularly renew their subscriptions. And showing up in prospective members’ inboxes helps you stay top-of-mind and increases the chances of getting them to sign up with your site.
What I’ve tried to do in this post is open your eyes to all the possible different types of content and value you can provide to your students connected to creating a successful membership site.
I too often I hear conversations about producing video or adding gamification to try to solve a more fundamental problem of poor content that’s not updated or improved. Don’t get me wrong, I love video and gamification but there is a lot more you can do to beef up your content than just these two elements.
I really recommend offering a mixture of all the different types of content I’ve discussed in this post. Your specific content mix ultimately depends on your conversion goals, what delivers the most value to existing members, and how much time and effort you can put into it.
Which of the above-mentioned content types will you offer through your membership site? Let us know by commenting below.