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.

The whole goal of your store is to make a sale right? Ideally you’re going to make so many sales that you start to wonder if your bank account is full.

Hint: Bank accounts don’t get full. 😛

Today we’re going to look at the key points that make your online store awesome and awesome stores make sales.

Establish Trust

First off, your site needs to look trustworthy. Long gone are the days where flashing cat graphics are considered great for a proper online store. Today you need to invest in a good design that looks professional.

You don’t even have to get something desingned custom, purchasing a WordPress theme and having eCommerce added to it is a great way to have a professional looking site on a budget. There is one caveat though, it is possible that others will have a site that looks very similar to yours if they bought the same template.

The theme shops I currently recommend are:

  1. The Theme Foundry
  2. Cr3ativ
  3. Array
  4. StudioPress

Some of those have themes that already support WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads or WP eCommerce but even if the theme doesn’t already support an eCommerce platform they are all built well and will integrate well with an eCommerce platform with the help of a competent developer.

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 7.16.12 AM

Make the Sale easy

You’ve established trust and your customers are looking to purchase something from you, now make it easy.

Use as few pages during the checkout process as possible. If your purchases are typically single purchases, send the user directly to checkout when they complete a purchase instead of making them click again to get to the checkout page.

Make your purchase buttons stand out on your page. They should be a different colour from the rest of your site and draw the users attention.

When the user is on the checkout page, only require the information you need. If you don’t need their address because you sell digital goods then don’t require the address fields to be filled out.

An email is way more important than an address anyway since getting someone on your email list increases the chances of them becoming returning customers.

Finally, don’t forget about mobile shoppers. Mobile shopping continues to rise and is likely to keep doing so. If you’re checkout process is hard on a mobile device then it’s quite possible that your potential customers are just going to find somewhere else to make the purchase like Amazon which has a pretty easy mobile checkout process.

Keep in Touch

Once someone has purchased a product it’s time to really kick in to overdrive on your communication with them about their purchase.

Email them a confirmation and any special instructions for the product. Does the product require some processing (maybe you need to build their custom order) email them when it starts and when it’s ready and getting packed for shipping.

Email them when it ships, and use a tracking number so the user can tell where their product is.

Follow up with them via email a few weeks after they’ve received their product. Does it meet their needs? Was the quality as expected? Encourage them to leave a review of the product on your site, maybe even offer a coupon for a future purchase if they leave a review.

For a membership site identify what your long term members have done. Have they filled out their profile, interacted with a group or left a comment? Email your new members at key intervals to encourage them to do the same things and you’re going to retain more of those new members.

You’re customer should feel like they get great hands-on service from you.

Even after they’ve got their product and are happy to it, you need to keep reaching out to them via email. Email converts so much better than any other medium that the others don’t even rank. We’ll talk in a future post about how to run an effective email list.

Now go forth and have an awesome holiday selling season. If you need help building an awesome online store then check out our process and get in touch.

Passwords are hard.

I’ve got over 1000 of them when I look at the information from clients.

They should all be different and they should all be long and random so they can’t be guessed.

Are you making it harder

I recently wanted to purchase a course from How to Fascinate based off an email they sent me.

I clicked through the email.

Then read the text and watched the video.

Then added it to my cart.

Then filled in a bit of personal information.

Then it asked if I had an account, and I did so I went to sign in.

But unfortunately it didn’t work so I checked my password on their main site again.

Well it worked on the main site.

So I tried it again on the purchase portal, and it didn’t work.

And I couldn’t sign up for the course.

The likely problem

Unfortunately you encounter bad usability like this on a regular basis.

Typically it means that the sign up form allows 50 character passwords while the sign in form only allows 20. Thus your 50 character password is now actually 20 characters.

But of course the site never told you.

Worse is when the sign up form allows special characters (!$^) but the login form strips them out. Or maybe the sign up form allows you to enter them, but just removes them from the password.


Being a good web developer I reported the bug and was basically told they know about the password issue but they’d like me to sort out how many characters a password can be because they know it’s a problem but they don’t have a real answer.

So their password problem should be solved by me their customer?

They weren’t even sure where the problem was exactly. Is it 20 characters or 25 or does it cut ‘funny’ characters like #?

But as the customer I’m supposed to figure that out for them so I can purchase their product.

How many conversions do you drop?

It’s likely that for every complaint you get about issues like that on your site you actually have it happen 10x more without being reported.

So you could be getting 10 extra sales for every one complaint or 100 sales for 10 complaints.

It just doesn’t make good business sense to leave the problem up to your customers to solve. Even if all 10 people that complain do stick through and purchase you’ve dropped the other 90 you never heard from.

Getting a lot of spam on your forms? Don’t add a CAPTCHA that just makes it harder for real users to submit the form and forces them to solve your problem.

If you’d like a review of your site for conversion issues get in touch with us. We can help you find and fix issues that are killing your conversions.

Happy Monday to all.

We’ve been working hard on the update to Easy Restricted Content for WooCommerce.

Today I introduce a few bug fixes and one new feature for your users.


Previously you were sort of left on your own when it came to showing off your content to your members. Now Easy Restricted Content for WooCommerce adds a new item to the WooCommerce ‘My Account’ page.

This new area shows the user all of the premium content they have access to.

You can of course still show it in the menu if you want.

You can go get more details on how Easy Restricted Content for WooCommerce will help you easily power a WooCommerce based membership site and purchase it on the product page.

Now the stuff only developers typically care about.

Bug Fixes/Updates

WooCommerce updated how they detect order status a while ago and we’re now compliant with the newest methods.

We had a bug in the display of multiple product restriction which was introduced in 1.2.1 where some users didn’t see the option to restrict by more than one product. That bug is now resolved.

Well Easy Restricted Content for WooCommerce 1.2.1 is now out in the wild and it has a fix and a new requested feature.

The Fix

It seems that 1.2 gave you the wrong link by default when you restricted your post/page/forum by a variable subscription product. I tried to link to the individual variation instead of the product that held the variations.

Now it links to the product properly.

The Feature

As of version 1.2.1 you can now restrict content by multiple products. So that means if you were selling an eBook and had a page that was for purchasers only you can assign that eBook as a product on your page.

Then you could assign a subscription that was intended for users to access all your books as they come out.

Now a user that had purchased either the subscription, or the single purchase book could see the content.

Want to learn more? Check out the documentation and purchase the plugin.

Over on WP Theme Tutorial I just wrote a post about why we document all our code for a project.

In short, you’re going to be a better developer because of it and you’re going to make it easier to work on in the future.

For our client projects it means that a future developer can pick up the project and have a big head start on what’s happening and the thought processes behind our work.

Skipping documentation is a good sign of a lazy developer. Then you have to wonder where else they cut corners.

Way back when I release my business book I needed to restrict content to users that had purchased the video package.

At the time there was nothing and I had to resort to custom code. While there is one option now, it’s not simple in any fashion.

I don’t know about you, but I like simple so I went out and built a simple way to restrict posts/pages or bbPress forums to users that have purchased a product.

Thus I announce with much fanfare Easy Restricted Content for WooCommerce.

Check out the video below to see how it works and head over to the product page to purchase.

Have you heard of Easy Digital Downloads? Well you have now.

It’s the easiest platform to use for selling downloadable products. It integrates easily with Affiliate WP for affiliate programs and Restrict Content Pro for membership sites.

SFNdesign is a trusted consultant for EDD. Which means they think we know what we’re doing and can build you an awesome solution.

But wait, who is Pippin? I mean he’s mentioned in the title right? Pippin is the lead developer/founder/guru behind EDD.

Sure it’s a bit technical but we love to use Vagrant for our client sites. Using Vagrant means that we can start up new servers and on board new team members fast.

We particularly love VVV as a way to get our projects off the ground quick.

Curtis even wrote a few tutorials about using VVV.

  1. Working with WordPress and Vagrant – Basics
  2. Vagrant and Custom Domains with WordPress
  3. Adding a new domain to an existing VVV box
  4. Connecting to MySQL in Vagrant with Sequel Pro