You’ve spent time, effort, and a lot of money creating a brand-new membership site.
Now, all you have to do is fill it with members!
The problem is that membership marketing strategies are a dime a dozen. So how do you know which one to pick?
Well, here’s a tip: you don’t have to decide which one to commit to. Instead, the most effective marketing tactics are those that are intertwined and rely on each other’s strengths to succeed.
But first, let’s explore why you should always start with membership marketing as the initial step after creating your membership site.
What is membership marketing?
One of the key benefits of membership marketing is that it enables you to build a thriving community around your brand while offering ongoing value to your members.
Here’s are our tips and advice for creating and executing a solid plan for finding and growing your subscriptions.
Make Sure Your Membership Message Is Solid
The ideation process itself – making sure your idea can survive in “the real world” – is worth revisiting before you even begin to look at specific marketing programs for your membership site.
If the foundation isn’t solid, you’ll find that nothing ever really “clicks”.
That’s why we place so much emphasis on the big picture of your membership site – from ideation to launch. Following an organic decision process to formulate and test your idea before you present it to the world might mean the difference between absolute success and failure for your membership website.
When launching your membership site, it’s essential to consider the user experience and ensure that every aspect of the platform feels intuitive, engaging, and as if a real person is guiding members through their journey.
You’ll know you hit on the right messaging for your membership when you’ve made a few sales. Even if you have a lot of well-meaning friends who say it’s brilliant, until you get someone to whip out their credit card, it’s still unproven.
You don’t need to have a huge launch of your membership site to confirm you’re on the right track. If you get enough interest and subscriptions from your immediate community, you’ll know your idea is solid and you are positioning yourself for success.
The 3 Phases of Membership Marketing Success
Your job is to fit your marketing strategies all together to make sure they work seamlessly!
You can break this marketing plan down into bite-sized action steps by following the three distinct phases of a membership site launch:
- The Marketing Prep Work
- The Membership Pre-Launch and Promotion
- The Launch Itself
Phase I: Marketing Prep Work
Your marketing prep time and work are devoted to creating your launch materials. These would include core elements such as landing pages, promotional graphics, emails, etc. All of this creative “grunt work” is done during this time, to ensure nothing has to be created during the launch itself. Although writing an extra email or social media post during the launch is totally normal, we want to prep as much as possible.
Here are the five effective tactics to consider when preparing for your membership launch:
1. Document The Launch Flow
Take some time to create a solid workflow, from the first point of contact through the membership purchase.
This gives you the ability to see the big picture of where your members will come from. It’ll also give you a practical outline for all of the other tasks that have to be done.
You can start pretty vague and just hit the main points at first. However, as you continue to think it through, you’ll find that you can break down each main section into several smaller parts, each more detailed than the last.
I recommend mind-mapping this launch flow, including the email marketing funnel, the social media posts to each of your platforms, and the pre-launch content you’ll be releasing as a teaser.
2. Create Your Content
You know where you’re starting and where you want to end up, now it’s time to start crafting relevant content!
Keep referring back to your flowchart from the previous step to make sure each of the main areas is accounted for, including:
- Email sequences that help to sell the membership
- Writing video scripts, blog posts, or preview modules for your membership site
- Social media promotional copy (for your groups and pages)
- Facebook ads or other paid advertising
- The membership site’s sales & thank you pages
- Affiliate marketing swipe copy
- Content for doing a live sales webinar or livestream
There are many different schools of thought when it comes to using free content to give potential customers a “taste” of your paid membership.
We believe that one of the best ways to get someone to buy a paid online course or membership is to get them to try The Login Optin™ where they get a free mini-course.
3. Create Your Graphics
Graphic design 101, here!
Make sure you’re staying on brand and keeping everything professional.
If you don’t have a professional designer already on call, now is the perfect time to team up with one!
For many of our projects, we work with a professional graphic designer who helps to create the overall look and feel we want to achieve. It’s an investment, but the end result always pays off!
But for the smaller design needs during launches (Facebook ads, social posts, etc.), we really enjoy working with the company Design Pickle.
The turnaround is fairly quick for each design, and they’re easy to work with on any revisions or edits.
As a bonus, you can share the professional project branding with designers from Design Pickle, Fiverr, etc. to help make their job easier.
4. Set Up Your Email Sequences
With your graphics and content ready to roll, you can start building the necessary sequences inside your tag-based CRM to collect and manage email addresses, which is crucial for fostering membership growth.
Here’s where your flowchart is definitely going to be a lifesaver!
You might create several different sequences, but the two main ones are:
- The Promotional Sequences – these are automated to build awareness and enthusiasm for your new membership site.
- The Purchase Sequence – this determines what happens when someone purchases a membership. The initial welcome email(s) are a part of this, along with motivational emails you might want to include to keep students engaged throughout the first few days/weeks.
Another great sequence to set up is your shopping cart abandonment sequence. This can help to capture some of those inevitable no-shows and recover potential membership growth opportunities.
5. Set Up Your Website Pages and Do a Trial Run
When your website pages are live and have the order forms in place, you have one last job: testing.
If possible, have a friend go from initial opt-in to purchase as if they were an actual customer.
Inevitably, there will be a glitch or two that you’ll be glad to have caught before it’s all open to the public!
Phase II: Membership Pre-Launch And Promotion
The pre-launch is your actual promotional time. You can use this time to offer a special “pre-order” price incentive, and the main purpose is to get the word out!
So at this point, you’re actually reaching out with a variety of membership marketing strategies to build awareness with your soon-to-be new members and establish a strong online presence through different marketing channels:
Using Paid Advertising To Build Your Membership Base
Any type of paid ads can work, depending on where your people hang out and the social media platforms they use the most.
This strategy, of course, works best if you can segment your ads to speak to different target audiences:
- Cold audiences who have never heard of you before
- Re-targeted audiences who’ve been on your site before, but have never made a purchase
- Current clients who are familiar with your work
We do a combination of all three, which helps us talk to people at the right level through any effective channel. If they’re already familiar with us, it’s much easier to tell them about our paid offerings and membership experience.
On the other hand, we’d never expect a total stranger to click on an ad and buy something right away. So we don’t send cold traffic to a sales page.
Instead, we run ads on the big networks (including Facebook, Google Ads, and maybe other membership platforms) to attract potential members and get them interested in our upcoming membership value proposition.
This is also a great way to get people to register to attend a free webinar, where they can get some great nuggets and experience your teaching style before they sign up for your paid membership site.
Social Media Posts
Although you can reach a bigger audience with paid ads, never underestimate the power of using your own social channels.
A single, well-crafted post can trigger hundreds (or thousands) of shares and bring in a truckload of unexpected revenue.
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to social media is that not everyone will see your posts. So make sure to schedule a bunch of different posts at different times, to make sure that people know you’re opening registration for your membership site!
Write A Blog Post For Yourself and Others
Use your own blog to bring in organic traffic and awareness of your new membership site.
It’s tempting to write the post as if it were an alternate sales page, but we’ve found that it’s more effective to write the blog post as a free resource that naturally leads to your membership program.
This membership marketing strategy is not a “one and done”, because content marketing is something you’ll want to do on a regular basis. But if you can craft a killer blog post that ties into your launch content, it can become an evergreen pillar that attracts shares and new visitors month after month.
One example of a post like this is our 38 Things No One Talks About When Launching An Online Course. It has 56 responses and tons of social shares!
Invite Your Email List To Your Join Your Membership Site
You’ve spent time working on building up your email list. which may include your valuable newsletter subscribers. Now’s the time to use it!
Sending a series of emails to share the good news can be so powerful, especially if you can resist the urge to get all sales-y on your subscribers! Of course, you can always use different email software to help you automate the process, but we recommend making the emails as personalized as possible.
Marketing membership sites can be successful without being complicated. This is especially true if you give people more than one opportunity to convert.
Just like a social media posting, not all of your subscribers will see your email announcements. Be sure to schedule more than one email with different touchpoints, so you don’t get people emailing you and asking why they missed the registration deadline for your membership offer!
Include Your Affiliates
If you’re established enough to have an affiliate program already in place, you can take advantage of these promotional allies, too!
Equip them with the graphics and swipe copy they need to present your membership site in its best light to their own followers.
It helps to get the date for your membership site promotion in their calendar early, so they can prepare and make the most of the launch buzz.
Phase III: The Launch Itself
The launch itself begins the moment your order forms start accepting purchases and you start seeing the sales roll in.
Each of the membership marketing tactics you use should be balanced according to the length of the launch and overall marketing plan to ensure steady membership growth.
For example, you need a short enough launch window so that your prospective members feel a sense of urgency. An example wording would be “Sign up before our registration closes!”
However, your launch (and pre-launch) should last long enough to give you time to woo your clients and really impart the benefit of the membership program to them.
Stay Active and Engaged
This can be a really tumultuous time. Even though you’ve done your prep work, there’s still a lot to be done.
Stay present to answer questions and keep an eye on the responses you’re getting. Often, you might see the need to tweak the sales page to clarify a point, or maybe you decide to add an email into the sequence to address some concerns, remember that your goal is always to build a loyal audience.
And, if you’re using affiliates, definitely check in with them and make sure to offer them encouragement and motivation.
Of course, no matter how many membership launches we go through – or how confident we are in our membership marketing plan and strategies – it’ll always be a bit of a stressful time. And that’s just the nature of the beast.
For a refreshing, honest look at what it feels like to run a launch, take the time to read our post 38 Things No One Talks About When Launching An Online Course.
Review What Worked and What Didn’t
If you’re not already seasoned in your marketing and copywriting efforts, this might be an extremely successful time for your business.
But you can always improve from your lessons learned from launch to launch.
If the results aren’t what you were hoping for, take time to revisit that marketing flowchart and find out where you can improve and what will require more investment of time from your end.
Maybe your ads generated a ton of traffic, but the sales page just didn’t convert.
Or maybe your ads and email didn’t get any clicks.
Maybe you got a lot of purchases but were then deluged with refund requests (hey, it happens). If this is the case, you might have a product that actually doesn’t fit with the market, or maybe your advertising didn’t properly represent the membership program.
In either case, always ask the people who are refunding why they aren’t sticking with the program.
Keep a list of “what worked” and “what didn’t work” to improve on for next time! You can also dig into these popular membership sales strategies for even more inspiration.
The Most Important Strategy Of All? Doing It!
Launching a new membership site is so exciting. No matter what happens, you’ll be filled to the brim with new ideas and marketing efforts to try out for next time.
The chance to change the world is literally sitting just beyond your fingertips.
Keep moving and keep improving. With the right membership plugin in place, those recurring subscriptions will arrive and you’ll see the benefits of creating and executing a solid marketing strategy and plan.