What’s the main thing you need if you run a membership site?

Paying members that keep paying you.

There are 2 aspects at work here:

  1. Getting new members
  2. Retaining existing members

We know that it’s safe to assume that it costs 5 times more to get a new member than retain an existing one (PDF download).

Today we’re going to look 2 ways you can learn about your user interaction with your site with an eye to increasing paid users of your site.

Start with a survey

Before you can set up your email campaign you’re going to need to know where the pain points are for your users. One of the best ways to figure that out, is to simply ask them.

You’re going to need to customize the questions based on your site but here are a few to get you started.

  • What was the hardest part of the course?
  • Was there a module you particularly struggled with?
  • How could we increase your success in the course?
  • Why did you (or did you not) sign up for the mastermind coaching package?
  • Was it easy to find the membership content?
  • Was there something in the membership content that you expected to see but didn’t?

Not only are you going to find some key pain times for your users, you’re also going to find some things that you’ve simply missed.

Maybe users expected a link to their account on a page of the Web site that you didn’t even figure needed one. Maybe your login process is hard for some users.

Maybe you have users that need assistive devices (think lack of good vision) and your site is hard for them to use.

That’s the type of stuff you’re trying to find out with this survey. Make sure to ask open ended questions and give users lots of space to write as much as they want.

Sometimes it’s obvious

Now you may not actually need to do a full survey because the problem may be obvious.

For a recent client of SFNdesign there was a waiting period of up to 2 months from product purchase to course start. That was a big pain point where someone was waiting for the material they purchased to actually become useful to them.

They had 30% of people that didn’t show up to the course. Worse, they had a number of paid customers that asked for a refund in a few days and their reasons came down to wanting the content now and feeling they could get similar content somewhere else.

For that client we did a few things to stop the refunds and increase engagement.

First we cut the wait period and took smaller classes starting on the first of each month. This change meant people that just didn’t show up dropped from 30% to around 18%. They were also more likely to stay around and pay for the monthly mastermind sessions after the intensive course was done.

Second, we added a follow up email campaign to users.

Within 2 days of purchase we sent the users a great PDF that summarized a bunch of the main points that the course would make. This provided them value right away and kept them interested in the course.

Our second email was a bunch of tips on how to maximize the course when it started. We gave them tips on the forum and how to figure out which mentor was best for them.

Our third email came the day before the course started, reminding them about the course and pointing them to the ‘course success’ page which covered much of the same content in our second email.

Customize it to your users

Maybe it’s not obvious though and maybe you don’t have highly engaged users that will fill out a survey. How on earth are you going to convert trial members to paid members of your site?

Using tools like Intercom you can track how users are using your site. This can help you identify the things that the paid users do.

In this great example from Ghost which saw a 1000% increase in paid users they used Intercom to identify that users needed to add themes and make a post before they really were ready to pay for the service.

Ghost conversion increase

With that information in hand they added a ‘Getting Started’ checklist that showed up in a user dashboard. This encouraged users to actually complete their account which in turn makes them more likely to convert to paid users of the Ghost blogging platform.

Wrapping it up

Just because you have a membership site, doesn’t mean you have any paying members. Make sure you build a solid follow up email campaign with tools like Follow Up Emails for WooCommerce.

Identify the things that your paying best members do and build in ways to encourage your new members to do the same things.

Don’t just put up your content and hope it’s going to speak for itself.

Posted by Curtis McHale

Web developer specializing in membership and ecommerce sites. I like to ride my bicycle.