Every year tends to be accompanied by an almost incredible influx of new inventions and possibilities… especially in the ever-changing world of technology.
With 2016 coming to a close, we wanted to take a look at one of the staple markets of entrepreneurs across the globe: the membership site.
After all, it's not just another website plugin: a membership site is truly one of the foundational tools of any online business owner… no matter what niche you're in.
So let's see what membership site trends have been prominent in 2016, and especially which we'll want to focus on for 2017.
Table of Contents
- Membership Site Trends Pick Up In Every Industry
- 2016 – The Year Of (Even More) Membership Site Options
- New Integrations With Your Favorite Tools
- All In All, It's Been A Year of Great Success And Improvements
Membership Site Trends Pick Up In Every Industry
Membership sites continue to snowball in popularity and functionality. In the past, we've seen membership sites used as a pretty standard training component of large, corporate businesses, as well as housing courses for online schools and universities. But all that is changing.
Entrepreneurs from all industries have discovered the pure resourcefulness of adding a membership site component to their online business and website community.
For small business owners especially, the membership site provides a nearly unparalleled opportunity for recurring income and a status of authority within their niche.
There's always a lot of programs and courses focused on “how to create and launch an online course.” Be discerning of the courses that you invest in for your own training, always opting for professional, trusted instructors with a proven track record of success.
Some Ideas Of How Others Have Been Using The Membership Site:
Alison Lumbatis, a fashion stylist, created her membership site as a way to offer indepth fashion advice to women who are serious about kicking the wardrobe doldrums.
Her membership site is, unsurprisingly, extremely visual, and provides a calendar view to assist users with the perennial dilemma: what am I going to wear today?
Natalie MacNeil and Gwen Elliot, both incredibly successful entrepreneurs, use their membership site as a training platform to teach other entrepreneurs how to gain significant and meaningful media coverage for their own businesses.
Throughout the online course, they provide incredible training videos and extremely practical instruction to help members achieve the highest level of success after completing the course.
Dr. Kelly Edmonds, an instructional designer, uses a membership site to house her individual courses.
Each of her courses can be purchased separately, and are tailored to provide different levels of training and support for business owners who want to design and create their own online courses.
Stu McLaren's Tribe Course
I think a special mention has to be made here of Stu McLaren and his incredible Tribe course.
Stu McLaren's Tribe course took the membership site world by storm, and some of the biggest takeaways are around designing membership sites that don't overwhelm students and that keep them coming back for more.
Some of his strategies include creating a success path, deciding on your content frequency and pricing, and choosing a topic that people don't want to quit.
Stu was hyper-engaged and hosted ongoing live Q&As for students… The next enrollment period will be summer 2017, so stay tuned if you want to learn how to build your tribe, too.
2016 – The Year Of (Even More) Membership Site Options
Each year there are more options for membership site platforms, from WordPress plugins to hosted solutions.
The basic “protecting content for a membership site” problem has been solved!
Now membership site owners want elegant sites that are easy to navigate, and that add gamification and learning management touch points to encourage students to succeed.
The all-in-one platforms, have been quick to jump on adding these features, to provide the best experience for their clients.
In the world of WordPress plugins, you'll be looking at an increase in LMS (“Learning Management System”) plugins coming out on the market. These plugins will provide that quiz, progress tracking, and other gamification features that are so integral to ensuring happy and successful membership site clients.
AccessAlly Pro Becomes A Full LMS Plugin
2016 has brought a new wave of features to our own AccessAlly Pro plugin, which now rivals some of the top LMS plugins out there.
In 2015, AccessAlly Pro was more of a gamification add-on, providing sweet quizzes, progress tracking, and some video bookmarks.
But all that has changed.
Now, you'll find a full suite of features inside AccessAlly Pro that make it an almost necessary partner to any online training course or membership site:
- 1-Click Social Sharing
- Automatic, custom certificate generation when students complete a course
- Graded, personality-style, and pass/fail quizzes
- Private notes for individual student coaching
- Video bookmarks, so your students can start watching a course video at the right point (instead of having to start over from the beginning!)
- And much more! (See the full list of features here)
And, since it integrates well with most other membership site plugins for WordPress, AccessAlly Pro is an LMS tool that can be easily added to your current site.
As we move into 2017, these LMS features will continue to grow in importance and focus on the side of both entrepreneurs and online students.
New Integrations With Your Favorite Tools
Of course, accessibility to tech tools has always been a thorn in the side of entrepreneurs with a limited budget. While there hasn't been a lack of affordable (or free) membership plugins for WordPress sites, the need for a reasonable level of functionality (without, of course, emptying the bank) can be challenging.
With these two new integrations, AccessAlly has been opened up to an entirely new set of entrepreneurs: those who might not have a large enough audience or budget to justify using something like Infusionsoft or Ontraport…but who are still serious about setting up a membership site with full automation and capabilities.
Ecommerce Capabilities… Without The Need for A Separate Plugin
Another area that has seen a ton of improvement here (both in our own plugin and in other areas) is the world of ecommerce and being able to sell a product on your own website.
In the old days, you had a couple of standard plugins that would be installed purely for the purpose of allowing clients to purchase products on your site.
Now, our own development team has created basic PayPal and Stripe integrations for AccessAlly, so users can purchase access to your membership site or online courses without having to leave your site.
This new feature is a total life-saver for users of ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign, for example, since these CRMs don't currently include their own e-commerce solutions.
All In All, It's Been A Year of Great Success And Improvements
Looking back, there's definitely been a huge emphasis on development and functionality. In our own company, we've had some incredible success with our new integrations and increased number of AccessAlly users.
The challenge, though, is always this: to be certain that whatever improvements we're currently working on are guided by the needs of our clients… and not just the fact that it would be “cool” to add to our plugins.
So… if you could add anything (feature or capability) to your membership site in 2017, what would it be?