How To Grow Your Membership Site: 4 Key Factors For Systematic Success
One of the questions that comes up time and time again for entrepreneurs building membership sites is: “How do I grow my membership site?”
The truth is, building a successful membership site is hard. We get it!
You’ve already done the hard work of building your website, creating your content, and acquiring your first paying customers. But what now? How do you continue to grow your membership site?
If your expertise isn’t in sales, marketing, or advertising it might seem impossible to grow beyond a certain number of members. Maybe you feel like you’ve hit a ceiling or plateau. Or maybe you’re wondering if you’re doing something wrong or missing an essential piece of the puzzle.
To make matters worse, sometimes building a membership site can feel like being stranded alone on an island. Your friends and family glaze over whenever you start telling them about what it is you do.
We totally get that (our friends glaze over too…) and are here to help. So, if you’re interested in learning how to grow your membership business, keep reading.
Creating A System For Growth
Maybe you’ve successfully launched your membership to an email list you’ve been building. Or perhaps you’ve had luck converting free members from a Facebook group or forum into paying members. Or maybe you’ve been in business for a few years and reached a plateau that just seems insurmountable. Wherever you are in your business, one thing is clear: In order to intelligently grow your business, you’ll need a system for growth.
In this post we’ll focus on outlining a system you can use to acquire new customers and grow your membership business. We’ve seen this system work time and time again for membership sites and it’s made up of four main factors:
📊 Your Metrics
📈 Your Traffic
🎯 Your Offer
Let’s dive in to each of these categories so you can start creating a system to grow your membership site.
Pinpoint Your Metrics
To effectively and systematically acquire new customers to grow your membership site, you’ll need a clear view of a few key business metrics. They are:
Lifetime Customer Value:
This is the average amount a customer will spend with you throughout their relationship with you as a business. LCV is especially important for membership or subscription-based businesses where transactions take place on a recurring basis. It’s kind of like the marketing “north star.”
Customer Acquisition Cost:
This is how much you spend on average to acquire a new customer. If you’re not engaged specifically in any sort of paid acquisition or advertising, your Customer Acquisition Cost can be measured in other figures like time or payroll.
The conversion rate of your business is determined by the percentage of people who complete a desired action (like purchase your membership or opt-in for a lead-magnet) compared to those who don’t. If 5 out of every 100 people who visit your website purchase your membership, you’d have a 5% conversion rate for that action.
Keep in mind, these are only 3 out of dozens of important metrics. But for our purposes here, these will suffice in giving us the information we need to grow your membership site. If you’re interested in a more complete list, check out our post 7 Key Metrics of Membership Businesses.
While it might be tempting to skip the step of gathering these metrics, they are essential in creating a system that will grow your business. If you use the MemberMouse plugin for WordPress, these metrics and more can be easily obtained from our Advanced Reporting Suite.
Once you have these metrics in hand, we can move on to looking at the next ingredient of our growth system.
Find Your Traffic
Ahh, traffic… the thing everyone wants more of. If only we all had more traffic, we could finally achieve our goals and dreams, right? Well, sort of.
The thing to keep in mind is that not all traffic is created equal. What we really want is qualified, focused traffic. What does this mean? It means that we don’t just want high volumes of random traffic. Instead, we want laser-focused traffic that brings people to your membership site who are interested, ready and motivated to join.
For example, let’s say that you run a membership site teaching men over 50 how to regain their health and vitality. Would you rather have 10,000 visitors a month coming from who-knows-where on the internet? Or would you rather have 1,000 visitors a month coming from a blog post on the Men’s Health website that recommends your membership? I know what I’d choose…
In this day and age, there is such a variety of online traffic sources that it can be easy to get overwhelmed. There’s blogs, social media, podcasts, search engines, advertising, email, affiliates, events & conferences… the list goes on and on.
Pro Tip: Stay Focused & Avoid Shiny Objects
In creating a system to grow your membership site, the key is to not get overwhelmed or distracted by the plethora of options available to you. Instead, pick a few key traffic channels and sources and commit to engaging in those areas.
If you don’t currently have a system in place to determine the value of different traffic sources, we’ve got some good news for you. MemberMouse allows you to assign different ID’s to different traffic sources and then track the value of each traffic source. That means you can see in real-time how much revenue each traffic source is generating for you. Once you know that, you can intelligently decide where to focus your efforts. You can learn more about how to do this here.
The traffic channels you ultimately decide to use are completely dependent on your industry. The key is to identify the traffic sources that will bring you the most focused, qualified traffic available. If you’re looking for more help determining which channels will work best for your business, we recommend checking out a fantastic book by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares called Traction.
Once you’ve identified your most valuable and highest-leverage traffic channels, it’s time to focus on the next factor in your growth system.
Optimize Your Offer
When creating and optimizing your offer – whether it’s to have someone sign up for your membership or simply opt-in for your newsletter – it’s important to remember one of the all-time great marketing maxims: a compelling offer is more powerful than a convincing argument.
Ask yourself: Do your prospects feel compelled to join your membership site or are you trying to convince them to join? Is there a way for you to sweeten the deal for your prospective customers in such a way that they’d have to be crazy not to sign up?
Beyond that, it’s essential to look at exactly what you’re offering your prospective customers (i.e. the product, the price-point, the format, and the guarantee). Make sure and look at some other offers that are doing well in your industry. What are the price points? How many deliverables are there? You have to make sure that what you’re offering is a really killer package. Make it easy for your customer to say, “yes.”
Exactly what you offer to your prospects is going to be highly dependent on your market. But make sure the price point is right. If you’re not sure what the correct price point is, then it’s time to consider a split-test. MemberMouse can help you split test your registration process in order to help you determine the optimal price for your offering. While the process may seem tedious at first, think about the peace of mind you’ll have when you know you’ve found the ideal price for your membership.
Now you may think we’re done creating our system to grow your membership business, but there is one final piece that can make a world of difference.
Craft Your Copy
Remember, your copy is distinct from your actual offer. Your copy describes the offer and should be optimized for conversion. The thing is, what if your copy is doing a bad job describing your offer? What if it’s dull and doesn’t create any anticipation, excitement or engagement? Worse yet, what if it doesn’t speak to your ideal customers and actually deters them from buying?
The thing to keep in mind here is that your copy really should be the last variable you experiment with in your membership growth system. If you spend all your time at the beginning analyzing and tweaking your copy, without first experimenting with different offers, or sources of traffic, you’re not optimizing your business in the correct order. You can have the best headline in the world, but if no one wants what your offering, it won’t do you any good.
That being said, once you have all the other pieces in place, optimizing the copy on your site for conversion can make a world of difference.
Putting It All Together
To quickly recap, the four key factors in creating a system are your metrics, traffic, offer, and copy. When you have clearly defined and optimized these four elements, you’ll have a system you can use to grow your business.
Here’s how it works:
When you know how much an average customer is worth to you and what percentage of visitors to your membership site become paying customers, you’ll know exactly how much you can spend to acquire a new customer and still remain profitable.
Then, once you have identified the most valuable traffic channels and sources you can stop wasting your time on efforts that don’t yield any results. Furthermore, by optimizing your offer, you’ll discover what your market actually wants and is willing to pay for.
From there, you can focus on refining and improving the copy on your homepage, landing pages, and sales pages. With improved copy, you can boost your conversion rate, thus boosting your LCV, and in turn increasing the amount you can spend to acquire a customer.
Now you have a system to grow your membership site and can focus your time and efforts on creating new products and offering, thus giving even more value to your current and future customers. If you need some more inspiration, check out this article with 10 mind-blowing membership website examples!
There are a lot of effective ways to encourage member retention. You can ask users what they want to see, encourage a community, and interact with them directly. Plus, MemberMouse can help you manage your growing community and keep an eye on member retention rates.
Do you have any questions about how to grow your membership site? Let's talk about them in the comments section below!
Matt is our enthusiastic Content Manager here at MemberMouse. Originally from Chicago, Matt now resides in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and cat. He loves reading, writing and getting outdoors.