Sunday, November 3, 2013

How to Build a Successful Membership - Review Notes

It's all a matter of belonging - not just avoiding pain. 

photo: Terry Johnson, on Flickr
What Mike Dillard missed on his Evolution Income launch is the belonging point. I could go on for hours on the motivation points he doesn't cover (but I'll save that for the copyrighting course I'm collating.)

People join memberships to belong to something. This is fourth in the set of approval, control, security, and belonging - the glue-points which people stick anything to themselves. (See "Get Your Self Scam Free.")

Sure, it's easy to explain marketing in terms of the simple "Seek Pleasure, Avoid Pain" mantra. 

And I'm afraid that I've gotten off on a bit of a tangent already. 

I got my Insta-Member membership plug-in downloaded and was busy going through the bonuses, extras, and resources they give. (Real value here...)

One set of videos and an accompanying transcript was particularly enlightening. And my notes (excerpts) from it are below. 

The key points:

  • People join memberships to belong.
  • Plan your work, work your plan. ("Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.")
  • Stick to your budget and your current needs. Don't invest in extra's you don't know you need.
  • Always, always give unexpected value - in addition to the promised value.
  • Your niche knows what it wants and how it wants it. Ask and deliver.
  • Track your attrition and solve by more carefully delivering what's needed and wanted.
  • 3 working methods for driving traffic: Ads (online and offline), SEO, JV affiliates. Social networks help, but not as a main line.
  • Plan out your content 6 - 12 months in advance, but just create 2 or 3 months and get started now.
- - - -

Review Notes of "Membership Site Secrets" from Insta-Member bonuses: 

This is probably PLR they found, but it's good stuff. The presentation is both video and text (which I appreciate, since text is faster to digest.) A bit dry (English, sounds like) but you'll see it covers key points you'll need to know to make your membership a success.

(If I were able to get word to Dillard & Co. about how to improve their Elevation Income course, they need a video on just what to expect when running a membership. Because that is what I'm having to fill in here.)

The real advantage of a membership site is that the buyer becomes actively involved in the sales process.

So, the basic principle of a membership site is a buyer joins a site, they become a member, and then you build your relationship with them as sort of an active buyer.

1 – A Very, Very Good Revenue Model

Membership sites are a very, very good revenue model.

The big benefit to you, as the marketer, is that the buyer becomes actively involved in the sales process.

So, not only are you earning your membership fee, your $5000, say, a month, from your 100 members at $50 at month, but if you display login offers as well - and maybe you change it every week or something like that, you put a new on one there - then of course, you can increase your income from that.

So, it's a good autopilot business model and one that you really, really should consider.

Membership sites also appeal to one of humankind's fundamental needs: we like to have a sense of belonging.

But perhaps one of the biggest benefits - and this, I think, is one of the things that a lot of marketers like - is a membership site gives you control over their access to the material.

So, membership sites are a good business model.

And one of the best reasons: affiliates love membership sites with recurring incomes, because it gives your affiliates recurring incomes.

2 – What Membership Script to Use?

One of the first choices you're going to have to make is what membership-site script do you use. There's lots and lots of them on the market, but which one's the best one for you? 

Also bear in mind that some membership-site scripts require you to purchase add-ons.

And instead of just buying the bits that they need, they buy all the things that they might need. And of course, that bumps the price right up. 

So, before you can pick a membership-site script, you need to understand how you're going to use it.

So, think about what you're going to use right now and in the immediate future.

Can you use it on as many servers as you want, or just on one domain?

Are you planning on displaying login offers and one-time offers to them?

How easy is it to use?

So, how easy is it for you to use?

Do they provide a guarantee period?

What support do you get?

Another influencing factor that again, can influence your choice of budget, is: are lifetime upgrades free or not?

Remember, before you install any upgrades, though, do you actually need it?

Another good question to ask yourself is: how long has this script been around?

One thing you may or may not want is can it drip feed content?

How easy is it for you, not for anyone else, but for you personally to install, setup, administrate, use, add products to, add new members to, etc., etc.

Can you do it yourself, or do you need to outsource it?

This is the other thing as well is can members easily upgrade their membership from between the different levels?

Can the script handle recurring billing?

Does it provide support for a free membership option?

How well does a script protect your content from theft?

Does it protect your content from sharing?

Does it plug in to other scripts you plan to use?

Perhaps one of the most important is, will it work with your web host.

3 – Membership script examples

Different scripts that you know, you may want to say, well yes that is for me, that is not for me. So, we are going to look at that now, but write out what you want from your script. Answer all the questions we have asked here, write it all out, and then look through the different scripts, and decide which one is the best one for you. 

4 – Picking a Niche

Picking a niche is actually very, very important.

Ultimately the success of your membership site relies on you being able to give your members what they want.

So, always give them plenty of value.

But, what you're after is providing the solution to the problem.

And remember, you can just use a membership site as a delivery mechanism for your product.

Don't get caught up in the fact that a membership site has to be, you know, recurring monthly products and information.

Could it become like a training course?

But sometimes, when you're picking the niche and deciding how it will work as a membership site, sometimes you need to step outside your box and have a think.

But, once you've picked your niche, your next step is to determine what format membership site you're going to create.

Whatever format you choose, it has to be suitable for your niche.

That sort of thing, a fixed time membership tends to be a bit more intense if you do it once a week because you're keeping more in contact with your members, you're more interactive with them then, and you're constantly reminding them that you're there.

You either bill a weekly, monthly for that fixed period of time.

Now obviously they're paying in advance, so you bill them now.

Now, the next option is monthly payment.

Or the final option is product delivery or training sites: how to look after your hamster, how to restore your classic Mustang whatever it might be, things like that, how to train your horse.

So, it's worth spending the time in the planning stage.

5 – Content

One of the things that destroys many membership sites before they have a chance to get off the ground is the content.

You need to be able to provide something that means they have to be a member.

I would also recommend providing regular updates.

Always deliver your updates on time.

So, you need to make sure that you give a MASSIVE value in that first month.

But it's very, very important to listen to the feedback from your members.

Now, when it comes to providing content, you can either write it yourself.

You could hire or interview experts.

Alternatively, you can hire freelancers.

One of the best forms of content is what we call user-generated content.

The other alternative, and this is my preferred option, is rewritten private-label-rights material.

Now, the format you use, whether it's going to be audio or books or video, is up to you.

It depends upon your niche, depends upon your skills, your budget, your equipment, and so on. But, you've got to make sure you provide high-value content. It's got to be ideally unique for you, it's got to be good quality, and it's got to be something that people go, "Wow, this is so worthwhile!" You don't want it to be anything where they're looking at it and going, "Yeah, whatever," because that means unsubscribed. So, make sure it's good quality. And this gives you some hints and tips on where to find the content. 

6 – Solving Attrition

Every single membership site will suffer from attrition.

Now, typically, average membership lifetimes, they vary. It could be anything from a few months. Sometimes it's three to six months, in most membership sites.

So, what you need to do is monitor your unsubscribe rate.

If you find your unsubscribe rate is too high, then you may well have a problem with your content.

If you have high-value, exclusive information, then your members are going to stay members for longer.

What you will find - and this is typical for all membership sites - is the majority of people will leave in the first month.

It means, for you, the people that stay are quality buyers.

One of my favorite tricks with a membership site is to offer random bonuses and random bits of information.

If you know what your market wants and delivers it, then it's going to help you to retain your members.

You also want to be sure that your members are clear on what they are getting.

Ensure that your content is always delivered on time, every time.

If you ensure that quality's always very high, then that also is going to help retain members.

If you can encourage feedback and interaction with your members, that also is going to help you to retain members to your site.

This sense of community is vital for people.

7 – Common Mistakes

Now, the first mistake that many people make is bad marketing.

If you can rank well and you can market your site well then, obviously, you're going to do well as a membership site.

You also need to understand where does your traffic come from?

If you're information's out of date or boring, then that's a big, big mistake.

A lot of people, as well, don't plan their membership sites in advance.

If you're active in gathering testimonies as well, that's going to help.

You have to make sure that your membership site makes it really, really obvious where to find the information that they've paid for.

Also, is the content you're adding, content that your niche wants?

If you have free members, market to them and sell them the full membership.

Also, make sure you communicate with your members regularly.

Always, as well, make sure you get feedback from your members.

And another big mistake that people make, and this is, again, a common one and it can bring down a membership site, is not delivering the content on time.

8 – How to Advance and Succeed

Now, obviously, one of the first ones is to make sure that you've planned your content in advance.

Now, ideally have your content created in advance.

What I tend to do with a membership site is I create a month or two of content, test the membership site to see how it's working. If it works well, I create pretty much the rest of the content and then it's all there and it's all being delivered over time. And that works very, very well. But, you have to think about that. 

But, with any membership site, you always have to work to get new members.

If you provide unexpected bonuses and additional content, pretty much randomly, it's going to increase the value of your site to your buyers.

You do need to understand what your target market wants.

Always provide them with the most up to date information you possibly can.

Encourage your members to contribute to your site as well.

You also need to keep an eye on your niche as well for competition.

Keep an eye on the market as well and see what the new techniques are, new developments, and so on and so forth.

This is a mistake that lots of people make. They don't step outside of their box.

Always make sure that you think about what your members want and think laterally, if you like.

The watchword, I believe, with a membership site is, "Add value."

9 – Driving Traffic

In order for you to really succeed with a membership site, you have to continually drive traffic to it.

Unless you happen to have a big waiting list for your membership site or you have a big mailing list, then traffic really is the answer for how to replace these members.

You need to also optimize your site for the search engines.

If you choose to participate in niche related forums and groups, that is going to help you to get traffic, it is going to help build your reputation.

You can also choose to advertise in newsletters and ezines.

The other option, and again this is going to cost you some money, but it is a very good option, that very few marketers actually do but one that is very effective, is to advertise offline in relevant publications.

You want to look for joint ventures as well.

You can also create social networking groups related to your niche.

Now there is a lot of things you can do to get traffic, but I really, really recommend that you make sure you rank well for your keywords because it is going to help you to maximize your revenue and your profitability, and ultimately that is what you are after.

10 – Opportunities For You

At the end of the day, a membership site is a really, really good business model, there is a lot of potential for profit in them, a lot of opportunities for you.

So, a stable source of income can make a big difference between Internet marketing being something you do a little bit of and you hope it pays the bills, to something that replaces your full-time income.

So, what you need to be able to do, is to help people really get that sense of belonging, and that is the whole point of your membership site.

Firstly, pick a niche.

Then determine which script you want to use.

Plan out six to twelve months worth of content.

You do not have to create it all, just create the first couple, but plan out the first six to twelve months, because you can use that in your marketing material, so that people know what to expect. Then set up a site, buy your script, install it, configure it, create your content, add the content to the site, start marketing it, and getting members. 

As members join, recruit them as affiliates, get them to market your product.

And then basically, keep marketing it, getting it ranking well, get traffic to it, get involved in forums and groups, and this and that and the other, and get traffic to it so you get more and more members.

So, take this step-by-step action plan, take the information you now have, go and create a membership site and enjoy the many, many benefits that it will give you.

Coming next: How to get your Insta-Member membership plug-in up and running.

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