#357 WP-Tonic Show: 7 Ideas to Take a Successful Membership to the Next Level on WordPress

We discuss in our first show of 2019 how you can effectively promote your successful course in 2019 so you can get more sells and increase its profitability by using WordPress these basic marketing ideas!

Tip #1: Create Course Bundles

Tip #2: Create Multiple Subscription Tiers

Tip #3: Upsell Membership Plans and Add-Ons

Tip #4: Create Multiple Content Types

Tip #5: Facilitate Discussions

Tip #6: Award Certificates

Tip #7: Gather Data

Here a link to article I wrote recently connected to this subject.


Jonathon: Welcome back folks, to the WP Tonic show. This is episode 357 and Happy New Year folks. I made it to 2019. I never taught I was going to get there but I did. I am still in holiday mood folks. I got my great co-host here, Cindy. Hopefully she will be able to keep me under some control. Cindy, she looks down a lot. Cindy would you like to introduce yourself to the new listeners and viewers?

Cindy: Hello everyone. Happy New Year and happy 2019. Good to see that you’re here. As Jonathan said, I’m Cindy Nicholson. And I am from the coursewhisper.com. And we help people who want to create online courses. So if you’re thinking that you want to put something together this year, finally get that course out there. That’s what we’re here to help you do.

Jonathon: Yeah. It’s all about WordPress Entrepreneurship. Learning Entrepreneurship and getting your membership learning management system up. Hopefully using the power of WordPress. I have the ability to do that. Before we go Cindy, how is the new Mac? Cindy had an IT emergency at the end of last year and she bought a new Mac. How is it going Cindy?

Cindy: All is good so far. Other than I had an update just before we connected Jonathan. And when I get clicked on the updated said 45 minutes to update. So I had a little bit of a heart attack. But it only took like 20 minutes. So we’re good.

Jonathon: You are a very brave lady.

Cindy: I know. I wished I had cleaned things up on my old Mac before I moved over to the new Mac. Now I just have transported all of the junk over so I do have to take some time to clean things up. Because it’s amazing how much stuff you keep on your desktop.

Jonathon: It certainly is. So folks, what we’re going to be discussing this week. Well, we are going to be discussing seven ideas to take your successful membership to the next level. We’ve got a recent blog post; there will be links in the show notes to it. And I thought I done a reasonable job. And Cindy said we should talk about that. So I took that as high praise. But before we go into it, folks, I want to talk about one of our great sponsors. And that`s Kinsta hosting. And we have been with Kinsta for over a year now. We host the WP Tonic website with them. Being absolutely blown away with their upper management and their support staff. Very approachable people. And they only specialize in WordPress hosting. And they really know what they’re doing. They use Google cloud as their bank bone, but they offer tremendous 24 seven support.

And what I mean support is that their support staff really are superbly trained and know what they’re talking about. So if you do have a problem, you’re not talking to junior level kind of tech. You’re talking about somebody where they are real tight team. Big enough to have all the technologies, only enough to still really care. And they offer all the bells and whistles. They offer any form of modern PHP level. Why should you care about that? It will make your site much quicker. They offer staging sites one click backup suburb interface. If you’re interested, go to kingster.com. Find out more about them for your own website or for your client’s website. You’re not going to be disappointed with Kinsta. So off we go. so create course bundles. What did you think to this one, Cindy?

Cindy: Well, I wanted you to kind of, I think when it comes to membership sites, people have a different. Everyone has a different perspective as to what it means by having a membership site. And so when you’re, you know, one of your suggestions in terms of how to up level your membership site is to create course bundles. I kind of wanted to get your perspective as to what did you mean by course bundles? And how does that kind of enable you to up level your membership site?

Jonathon: Well, fundamentally this one applied for somebody starting out. You know, that’s why in the title it says successful. Because hopefully you’ve been at this for a while. So you should have what you started off. And we’ve talked about this a fair bit in 2018. You know, your first course, the first course you starting off with. Don’t throw the kitchen sink, offer every option. If I try and cover every possibility. Because you’re concerned that you should offer value. we have advice not to do that. But we’re looking at people that have been running it and build up audience. So they should have, they might have started off with their first course. This could have been and then progressed. built separate modules are built separate courses to that. So that gives the opportunity of bundling all your courses into a major offering. Is that making sense?

Cindy: So within the membership site you are saying kind of bundle the topics are the courses that might be appeal to different groups within the bundle within the membership. Is that what you mean Jonathan?

Jonathon: Yeah kind of that. You could do that. But you could do a special promotion of thanks. Like a cyber-Friday or cyber-Monday offering. Where you bundle some of your courses for a limited time offer to your existing members. Because as we all know if you build trust and value to your existing audience it’s much easy to sell to that audience than a new audience, isn’t it?

Cindy: Yeah, absolutely. So how would you go about choosing what bundles to put together?

Jonathon: Well that’s why you need to ask your audience. Don`t you? That`s enough things we have touched. And I am just as guilty as the next person of this. Don`t get me wrong here folks. I am just as guilty of not following my own advice as the next person. But we’re all mortal. And doing some research and asking people in general. We all talk about doing it, but a lot of us don`t do it Cindy. I don`t know what`s that about. It’s just that you get pumped up and you think, ah let`s just do it. You really want to step a step back and ask your audience what they are looking for.

The only thing I would say about that is I was listening to a podcast over the holiday break. And it was enough English person and I’ll make sure that there’s a link in the show notes to this particular podcast. It’s about selling. And they were talking about the actual science. This guy was at Cambridge University and he was talking it and there was saying is that, it’s like 101 of selling. If you’re a professional sales individual is that you are your potential customer. What are their problems? But what you forget is they get, a lot of people ask them that. So they tend to have a kind of cant reply.

And what you need to do is use mythologies and methods to actually find out what is the real problem. You got to find out what’s the real problem Cindy. What do you think is my real problem Cindy?

Cindy: I know you were going to go there Jonathon.

Jonathon: She is too intelligent, too wise folks. She’s no going there. So did that make any sense, Cindy?

Cindy: Yeah, absolutely. Rather than wonder, you always need to ask, find out what are people struggling with. Sometimes they’ll give you the answer that you think they want you to hear. But by drilling down a bit more, you can really uncover the real true problems, what people are struggling with. But taking the time to do that just clarifies so much for everyone. And can save you such so much time down the road. Once you, if you know that you’re on the right track.

Jonathon: On to the next. Create multiple subscription tiers. What did you think of this one, Cindy?

Cindy: I think this is a good one. I think this enables kind of people. So creating multiple subscription tiers, which I’m assuming what you mean by that Jonathan has just having kind of like a basic level. Pro level and a premium level, having three different entry points into the membership. Is that what you mean by having the multiple tiers?

Jonathon: Yup. But keep it reasonably simple folks. There`s some clients. There’s one particular one that comes to mind that had the most. I’ve been doing this for a while Cindy. I am not the sharpest tool in the tool box. Am not the bluntest either. I didn’t understand. I can make an hotel of these membership levels and what he was offering in them. You needed a excel spreadsheet. The levels if you understood. And I actually offered, I had to get a friend of mine who’s a really fantastic programmer to come in because I kind of looked at it three times.

And when I played the kind of very subtle hint to the client, it might be advisable to make these memberships a little bit easier to understand. He got very. I’m struggling for the right word. He got very; I am struggling for the right word. it didn’t go down too well. Put it that way. Don`t go bonkers over this. having subscription tiers is a good idea, but you really got to, and it`s kind of linked to number one create course bundles. Is the clear value proposition in the upgrades must be obvious. And making things simple and obvious. It’s a lot of hard work Cindy. It’s really easy to make things that extraordinary complicated. It takes a lot more work to make them simple. Is that making any sense?

Cindy: That is the essence of what I do Jonathan. Right? People come and they have these big grandiose plans and it’s really about distilling it down and making it simple. So that’s a super important point. I think if you are going to be creating these tiers, it is to be super clear as to what the added value is by upping it up into a different tier and be super clear. Because I’ve seen them as well on web pages and you see they’ve got the three different columns. And, and you’re not really super clear as to what is different about one versus the next. So Jonathan, let me ask you, what are some things that people can do to add more of a premium to their membership sites to allow for these different tiers?

Jonathon: Could you quantitate that a little more? What do you mean? You mean technology wise?

Cindy: No, it just what can you do to make, like what, what could be a difference between basic and pro level and premium level? What kinds of things can you add to the membership to have a higher tier?

Jonathon: You could add additional modules. You could add the ability to join not only the private Facebook, but a premiere Facebook where you have one to one consultation with the course grades. there’s video I think 2019 is going to be a big year again for video. I know we’ve talked about that goes against some of our previous episodes. Where we discussed that just having a series of videos does not make an engaging course. There’s a lot more planning. But I think there’s links to all the things we’ve just discussed in this episode about framing the kitchen sinking. Which then you do a ton of videos, where you have an evening engaging with the audience to some degrees. And you’re not actually done the last thing we talked about.

Which is actually ask him some questions. The audience you got, you can see where it’s going. There’s is consequence. It`s like trying to build a house with dicey foundations. As you know, after about a year when you see the house cracks appearing. You realize it might have been a bit best to have spent a bit more time on the foundation a little bit. But there’s multiple things offering PDF`s, offering mini courses as these bundles are more one to one content contact with the instructor or instructors. These are all trends that we’re seeing on, aren’t we seeing Cindy, would you agree?

Cindy: Yeah, absolutely. The more access to you. Obviously the more that you can charge. The tradeoff is it’s more of an investment of your time in that membership versus just having it. But I think that you have, when you’re worried about churn, I think the more access that you can get to you or to other people that are like minded to you will help with kind of the churn rate of your membership site as well.

Jonathon: Kind of plan it out. You don’t realize about churn, realize that. Deal with it by offering more value in your subscription tiers. Try and place yourself in the student’s shoes. Try and place yourself as when you were that beginners, then you are the intermediate and then you are that expert. What were the things that you wanted to know? And any reasonable subject we’re not. I think when you get a lot of churn, I think it’s a sign of deeper problems really in the course structure because surely they should be extra value could offer and this is down to subscription.

That tiers is that you should be at. You know you’ve got the beginner’s journey and then he got the intermediate journey and then he got the expert journey. And the expert in any field doesn’t stop learning. It can just focus his attention. A lot of the beginner intermediate has become subconscious. So they can actually focus their attention on more higher, but it doesn’t mean they don’t stop learning. Dude does it?

Cindy: No the problems just change. They don`t go away.

Jonathon: Problems is here until the day humanity ends folks. There will always be problems. I can assure you that. There are the days that will never get bored because we make problems. Human beings are just fantastic at that. I think we’re going to go for a break, Cindy, and when we can delve in a bit more into these points. Be back in a few moments, listeners and viewers.

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Jonathon: We are coming back. I bring waffling a little bit. I felt I have kept on subject. I think I’ve given some good insights. I am in a cheery mood. So on to number three and we better get on with this. I think it’s going to be a long one anyway. Up sell membership plans and add on`s. What did you think of this one, Cindy?

Cindy: Again Jonathan, how about you kind of share what you’re always wanting ever the interviewer. You always want to ask me questions. So I’m going to.

Jonathon: This is amazing Cindy.

Cindy: This is your blog posts that we’re delving into. So again, kind of share your insight in terms of like what do you mean by up sell membership plans and add on`s? What does that mean?

Jonathon: There is the technical side. Then there are the actual specifics of it. I actually think if it’s done in the right way. I actually think a lot of people to be sold to. So don’t be shy about offering ad on`s. Don’t go bananas because you know, some websites you go to you are bombarded with pop ups/add on`s. It’s quite annoying. So there’s a balance here. But add on`s can intelligently for our add on`s and the ability of your shopping cart, your membership site to be able to sell add on`s. Can make enormous difference to your profitability, to your bottom line. It’s something not discussed that much in actual membership learning management area. But in the commerce, it’s a well-known practice. You will find with a lot of the SAS competition to WordPress. That they’re quite limited in their ability to do upsells in their platforms.

But with WP Tonic we’ve added on our middle tiers. We’ve added the ability to sell digital and physical products. And we combine that with Woocommerce and with a product called Cart flows. Which is the joint founder, Adam from WP Craft came on the show. And I interviewed him recently. And he is the joint founder of Cart flows. And it’s just a great technology to help with your upsells. and we’re going to be offering it as part of our fully hosted platform. But there is other SAS platform that offers similar opportunities. But just don’t forget it can make a big difference. And people if they, you know when you’ve done it right, because this won’t be resistance. They will just out buy. If you get a lot of resistance. So it’s more that the value proposition or there’s something deeper wrong with it.

Cindy: Yeah. I think probably one of the most common ad on`s that I’ve seen is the course creators offering one on one coaching session. So one on one coaching session may not be part of the overall membership site. But having that initial sign on to offer like a coaching session. A Kick start session is often been kind of a pretty common ad on that I’ve seen.

Jonathon: It`s also linked to our conversations about automization. About using active campaign drip, other CRM systems. And being able not only the core technology. What you also paying for is their backend analytical data that they can show you that people went of this funnel. They did all these steps. These people started at the top of this funnel. And you’re not only paying for the tagging and for the internal technology or something like active campaign.

You’re also paying for them. And it’s according to the data that they show you as well. And the reason why I bring this in Cindy is that it could be that the offering of the up sell isn’t a good enough value proposition. But it also might indicate that you’re either offering it to the wrong subgroup. What I’m getting to is being able to integrate your membership into a CRM. And seeing the kind of flows through your funnels gives you good indications when to do that upsell.

Cindy: No, that’s a really good point too. It’s all about knowing your data, right?

Jonathon: Which I don’t do. Am not going to preach on it folks but it’s one of my key business resolutions in 2019 is that to get a bit more on top of the game of things that I’m preaching to you. Because I don’t want to end up being a hypocrite but it’s also very important. but it’s only important in a more established membership. Don`t hit yourself too hard if you are starting off. Cause you got other things that you, you got to get the ball rolling. And then you start looking into these type of things. Don’t you Cindy?

Cindy: Now that’s a very good point. You don’t want to get bogged down with data that isn’t giving you enough information to make educated decisions about. All right. Are we ready to move on to tip number four?

Jonathon: Yeah. Number four, create multiple content types. obviously I just said I still think video is powerful. I think, utilization of it, but it’s not the only form that you’ve got. You`ve got forums, downloadable PDF`s in the membership and especially in the learning management area. Which WP tonic specialized in and so do you Cindy. Is that this whole debate of offering multiple content types is a big discussion isn’t it? And it pays much linked offering. I was listening to another podcast from Chris Badgett, the joint CEO of Lifter. And he was talking to expert and you know, talking about the kind of, I think it is five learning types. And I was going to actually do some outreach and hopefully get her to come on the show in February because I taught she did excellent job in Chris’s podcasts. Unfortunately I can’t remember the lady’s name, but it will be in the show notes folks.

Is that the five types? But she said what a lot of people do too, to deal with those five types. They throw those five type of learning. Not mechanisms, styles into their course, and they end up with just a complete mess. What she said is you want to kind of divers. I am going to explained that clear here. What she said is when I got a student didn’t they offer different types of content? Students that have different leanings in these fives. She said that just ends up in a kind of mess. But what you want to do is you want to mix it up a bit in your course. Don’t have it all video or don’t have it all PDF`s. But also you’ve got to have some coherence. So that takes a bit of full work doesn’t it Cindy?

Cindy: Yeah, no, I, this is something I feel pretty strongly about in terms of multiple content types, not only just from a learning style perspective, but also from a ease of access to your content. So not everybody is sitting down to a computer learning your content nowadays. They may be on, they may be driving in the car, and they may be in various different ways of doing it. So if you give them access in multiple different mediums in order to consume that content, it makes them more likely to want to continue on. Because they may not be taking the time to sit down, at their computer. That my other point to kind of, around this is.

You might find that the people that follow you, your audience will probably have a very similar learning style to you. Because you resonate with them for one reason or another. So for example, I love to do video and so I will probably attract people who like video as well. I was working with another client who was a writer and I had to kind of balance me wanting to, him to pull back on reading, but he’s probably attracting the people who like to read. So from that perspective, I think that rather than worrying about addressing all of the different learning styles. What is the learning style that you think your audiences and it probably will be pretty close to how you deliver your content anyway? Because that’s who you’ve attracted based on the information or the based on what you’re already providing to your audience.

Jonathon: I think that’s a fabulous point there. Thanks for sharing that Cindy. That was a glorious insight as I would say. I think that linked to drop out rate. I think that’s going to be a big thing in the next, you know, how do you build community and real discussion? The problem is a lot of people say we just start a forum or start a Facebook group. sounds interesting. Sounds easy, but actually takes a lot of time, time, resources and, but most things there’s a bit more to it that meets the eye. So I think he’s probably down to discussion. I think there’s probably something not discussed is there’s some groups of people that probably don’t want to discount. It depends on what your course is and what`s in there. Isn’t it? An all you can to build upon that first course. it really depends what you’re up to. So what do you reckon Cindy, do you think it’s kind of seems to me that it is really important, but the mechanics and also when you should do it aren’t discussed that much isn’t it?

Cindy: I think my thought around this is you don’t need to make it complicated. In terms of you don’t need to take the ownership on yourself as the membership owner to come up with the content all of the time. Your users probably can bring that content to you. So just opening up the opportunity for them to ask questions. Then you can come up. If you’re facilitating a discussion, you can kind of manage it from that perspective. Whereas they come to you with their problems rather than you kind of bringing up a new topic every time that you want to discuss.

Jonathon: Fantastic communities. I have got a community through my podcast. You are a bit silent. I would love you to be a bit more vocal to talk to us a bit more. We will be doing things to encourage you to talk to us a bit more. We are very nice aren`t we? Me and Cindy. Personally, when I’ve been on doing the online course, it’s not something that really gets me going. I actually find people love it. They just see it. It`s a mythology that scientifically and in practical terms does work. But is it because I’m English and I’m just downward Cindy?

Cindy: I don`t know. It’s the same thing for me. Having awards or certificates, doesn’t resonate, but it’s certainly does for other people. My husband for example, he loves like any kind of badges he can get or what have you, whatever game he is playing.

Jonathon: Maybe you should try them Cindy.

Cindy: Yeah, well, exactly. I give them badges for washing the dishes. It works fabulous.

Jonathon: Got a little bold where you get awards for being a good husband.

Cindy: Yeah, I should, I should leverage that more often. I hadn’t really kind of; I don’t think I’m maximizing that opportunity.

Jonathon: There we go. And to finish off I think we’ve actually touched that during the conversation. And I have omitted my waffle on it to some extent. Seems easy, but collecting data even through Google analytics or Google Webmaster tools or with the data provided if you are using a CRM. And if you’ve got a successful growing membership site, I think utilizing a CRM is really important. To provide that data and provide those funnels which will, at scale. I think the main point out of this is we all like new sells. But if you’ve got a sink, if you’ve got holes in your bucket and the people folding there, it’s not such a great business, morphology. So upselling, doing all the things we’ve just discussed, join the show. You find that the cost is reduced, the profitability increases dramatically. The people inside your course, you know, they should be your main referral results. Because they should be talking about how great your courses, these old factors, what do you reckon, Cindy?

Cindy: Yup, I agree 100%. I think that the best way to retain people is to give them pretty good stuff +to begin with, to give them what they want. And again, the best way to know that is to ask them what they need.

Jonathon: Yup. So we’re going to wrap it up. we got some great guests coming up in January. Cindy’s going to be helping us get some good guest in February. I think we’ve had a great 2018 listeners. If you could go to iTunes and give us a review, that’d be great. I’ve actually got a link on the show pages that will take you straight to iTunes to give us a review. That helps us get really interesting guests that can share their knowledge and value. And we’ll see you next week where we’re going to have a great guess interview. See you soon.

Jonathon/Cindy: Bye.

Every Friday at 8:30am PST we have a great and hard-hitting round-table show with a group of WordPress developers, online business owners and WordPress junkies where we discuss the latest and most interesting WordPress and online articles/stories of the week. You can also watch the show LIVE every Friday at 8:30am PST on our Facebook WP-Tonic Show page. https://www.facebook.com/wptonic/

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