Membership sites are a hot commodity, and business owners like you are looking for membership site ideas to help them stand out from the pack.
Maybe you’ve built a great following and have done the prep work. Now, you’re rewarded by seeing your perfect clients sign up and join your online membership program.
But how many of your members will decide to cancel on the offer they signed up freely for?
Some losses are inevitable. But a large part of your success depends on whether the experience you give is enough to keep them there. Your job is to keep your members satisfied AND give them an experience that leaves them wanting more.
That’s when a membership site moves from an investment in your business that you hope will bring a positive ROI, to an asset that earns you more than you spent creating it.
Looking for membership site ideas? Here are 7 examples from sites that are designed to set their members’ experience apart.
1. Give Them A Free Sample…Then Deliver Impressively
Offering a free taste of your membership perks is a great way to help interested people know whether yours is the right program for them. These samples of ungated content might come in the form of a blog, podcast, video, etc.
The free samples should be superbly and incredibly well-done. The membership material should be even more so.
Example: Code School
Code School is supremely designed to nurture the learner.
Although their main focus is a paid membership program full of educational opportunities, they also offer a subtle option for those who are not quite sold on the idea yet. Behold: the Free Account.
The content is still gated and exclusive, but requires a minimal level of commitment to access. You can easily set up this type of free membership in exchange for an email address using a tool like AccessAlly for WordPress.
The benefit is that the uncertain are given the opportunity to sample the goods without tossing out a credit card number.
The free content should offer curious people a genuine experience of what it would be like to be a member. Code school in particular offers a full experience for those who are wondering whether it is worthwhile to sign up or not.
Always deliver on what you promise.
2. Give Them The Opportunity to Really Connect With Other Members
Through your membership program, you are (presumably) prepared to offer them invaluable resources and tools to learn and then share with the world.
One thing that you as an individual can’t give is the perspective of other people who are going through the same experience….or can you?
One of the best membership site ideas creates a network of enthusiastic members who can communicate freely with each other.
A hub for avid marketers, Inbound.org presents a means for members to connect with each other and interact on a one-on-one basis.
This can go much deeper than the average forum. Rather than just swap ideas and words, members are given the opportunity to connect with real people who have real lives – and real struggles.
Whether you implement the person-to-person networking in a Facebook group or within the membership site itself, you can offer your members valuable networking resources with like-minded individuals.
3. Give Them A Clear Opportunity to Back Out
It can be challenging enough to build a list of people who want to buy into your membership course – especially when you’re just starting out. What’s the value of giving them an opportunity to opt out?
Reversing the risk using the popular “30 day money-back guarantee” can work well if you’re interested in building a community of members who are passionate about your product.
Not only does it lessen the risk of investment; it also builds a layer of trust and confidence with your members. After all, why would anyone offer a free trial unless they were confident that it would result in a sale?
[Tweet “Offering a clear opt-out builds trust and passion within your membership site.”]
That having been said, it is so important to make sure that those first 30 days are worthwhile and full of the resources your members need to gain the results they’re looking for.
Think about what you might highlight in the first 30 days to help your members get a head start.
4. Make it A Fun Experience by Offering Interactive Learning Components
You’ve filmed and produced an incredible video tutorial AND offered valuable written content (downloadable PDFs, ebooks, etc.), but there’s still so much more you can do.
Giving your members an opportunity to interact and really learn the skill
Some people learn by hearing, others by seeing – but you don’t really know what you know until you have to do it.
That’s why AccessAlly Pro was created – to offer ongoing learning components that can draw them to newer, greater heights.
But even though I think this gamification Plugin is pretty awesome, I’m not the first one to come up with it.
Let’s revisit Codeschool:
Code School includes a neat points system where you can earn points for taking on challenges.
5. Show Them How They’re Progressing
Don’t just embed a bunch of videos on a page and call it a day. Give them a progress bar, checklist, or anything where they can see visually how they’re progressing through the course or membership site.
In our own membership area, we like to offer an easy-to-navigate sidebar with various resources and a checklist within each section.
When a member takes a break there’s no need to worry whether they’ll find the right spot again. It’s all ready to be picked up where they left it.
Never underestimate the merits of offering a personalized experience for your members. You can do this with a WordPress membership plugin like AccessAlly Pro.
6. Be There for Your Members When They Need You
The perfect membership program is able to offer general industry stuff and tailored personal help. After all, most people will need a bit of help connecting the principles of the lessons with their unique situations.
Many of these great membership site ideas provide resources that connect members with a live person who can answer their questions. From live chat options to a phone number – or even a webinar – pave a way for you to be fully present to your members when they need you the most.
In the bottom right-hand corner, Skillcrush boasts of a friendly, dynamic popup that bounces every now and then to remind you that “hey, you can talk to a real person if you want to!”
This is a cheerful way to promote the ability that Skillcrush has to connect interested participants with a professional who can help answer their questions.
7. Give the Graduates Something That Will Empower Them
Some membership programs may be designed to serve as an online course education. When you’ve finished that course, you’re considered a “graduate.”
But the people who have just “graduated” are your most valuable members. Because they were able to connect with your program and find it valuable enough to stick with it to the end.
What are you able to offer that can connect them with the next opportunity that awaits them?
Graduate resources can be anything that you need them to be – an invitation to an exclusive group, a new eBook, a checklist, or maybe even a list of resources that come from sources other than your company. They could also consist of an offer or a link to join with a completely separate program.
Example: Clinton Anderson’s Clinician Academy
Ok this one isn’t strictly “online,” but I think it is an incredible example of the “reward” that members can look forward to.
After successfully completing this particular program, Clinton Anderson offers members the opportunity to connect with incredible career opportunities. He not only gives them the tools and skills they need to succeed, but he also uses his vast network of resources to connect them with the jobs they need to get their own names out there.
How Will You Use These Membership Site Ideas?
You can pick just one of these membership site ideas and run with it, or implement all 7 to get the most membership site traction. For example, if you don’t yet offer a free version of your membership site or a strong satisfaction guarantee, those are a great pair to start with.
Next, consider building in social interactions and rewards, especially for those students and members who are the most active or who graduate from your programs. They’re your best customers, so treat them as such!