The Complete Guide To Naming Your Membership Levels
Are you wondering about the best way to name your membership levels?
It can be tricky, right?
Do you stick to the standard Bronze – Silver – Gold naming convention?
Or do you get creative and name your membership levels something like, Padawan – Jedi Knight – Jedi Master?
Here’s the thing: what you choose to name your membership levels is incredibly important. The reason for this is because the names of your membership levels will be most carefully scrutinized while your prospective members are still in the buying process. They’ll be paying the most attention to your membership level names during the time when they’re actually deciding whether or not to join your membership.
That means your membership level names are more than just names. They are vital ingredients in the conversion process itself.
Do your membership level names stick in the minds of your prospects and reinforce the value of your membership?
Or… are they an afterthought that your prospects can essentially glaze over as they bounce from your sales page to go watch yet another cute cat compilation video on YouTube?
If you want to learn how to name your membership levels in a way that actually assists your conversion process, this in-depth article is for you.
In it, you will discover:
📗 A clear definition of membership levels
📙 The seven main ways to name your membership levels
📕 15 real-life examples of expertly named membership levels
📘 And more!
After you read this article, you’ll have the information and inspiration you need to confidently name your own membership levels.
Let’s dig in!
What Are Membership Levels?
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what the actual definition of a membership level is?
It’s kind of weird to even think about, right?
These days it seems like just about everything – from entertainment, groceries, and yes… even alcohol – comes in the form of a subscription or membership. Since we’re so used to seeing and selecting membership and subscription levels, it’s easy to rely on our intuitive understanding and overlook their definition.
Before we dive in and explore all the different ways you can name your membership levels, let’s take a look a practical example that nearly everyone can relate to: the name of your cell phone plan. After all, your cell phone plan is just another subscription you pay on a monthly basis.
Are you on an Unlimited plan? Or a Prepaid plan?
We can even drill down further into one of those membership level names and see just how specific you can get when you’re naming your own plans.
For instance, are you on an Unlimited Starter, Extra, or Elite plan?
(who knew so much could be added to an “unlimited” plan 😉)
Now that we’re all on the same page with what membership and subscription levels are, let’s take a look at the definition we’ll be working with throughout this entire article:
In essence, a membership or subscription level is a mechanism you can use to define what your members will receive, how & when it will be delivered, and what type of payment is required.
That said, the function of a membership level extends far beyond that definition. The names you choose for your membership levels can help your members select the level that will best meet their current needs. You can also use this opportunity to name your membership levels in a way that reinforces the benefits of your membership and communicates the desired outcome your content will help them achieve.
If that sounds a little *too* conceptual, here’s a practical example that’ll help anchor this concept into reality:
Imagine that you run a membership site that teaches people how to run their first marathon. You know that people come to your membership with all different levels of running experience. And, they will have specific needs depending on where they are in their own journey. In this case, you could name your membership levels something like:
Jogger – Runner – Marathoner
Each one of these membership level names communicates the desired outcome of your membership while at the same time giving your members the opportunity to select the level that best meets their needs.
By naming your membership levels in this way, you speak directly to your ideal customer and let them know they’re in the right place. Your membership level names also give you an opportunity to connect the value of your membership with the actual price. In fact, naming your membership level based upon the price itself can be a way for you to encourage signups at a specific level.
We’ll cover all of this and look at real-life examples in this post. For now, the important thing to remember is that what you name your membership levels is vitally important. It’s a strategic decision. You shouldn’t just arbitrarily name your membership levels something like Bronze, Silver, and Gold (unless that makes sense for your membership). Instead, approach naming your membership levels as an opportunity to connect with your members.
Now, let’s take a look at the 7 primary types of membership level names we’ve discovered in our work with thousands of membership site entrepreneurs as well as our research in the world of online subscriptions.
The 7 Ways You Can Name Your Membership Levels
1. Price-Based Membership Level Names:
When it comes to membership and subscription businesses, your membership levels and their prices almost always go hand in hand. It should be no surprise then that many subscription businesses choose to name their membership levels based on their price or billing frequency.
For example, the popular alternative health & healing streaming site Gaia has two primary membership options named specifically for their price and billing cycle:
As you can see, their membership levels are named Monthly and Annual. These names are simple, clear, and to-the-point.
Could they be more creative? Certainly. Do they need to be? Probably not.
For someone who already knows they want to explore Gaia’s library of 8,000+ unique movies, the annual plan makes a lot of sense. Gaia does a great job here of communicating the value of the annual plan and making its selection appealing to the user.
If your membership site is like Gaia – with essentially only one access level – you might consider a price related name (like Monthly, Quarterly, or Annual) for your membership levels.
2. Membership Level Names Based On Content Access
Naming your membership levels based upon the type of access they give your members is one of the most common ways to name your membership levels – especially in the world of online membership and subscription sites. The content-based naming structure typically follows a basic Bronze – Silver – Gold convention.
A perfect example of this way to name your membership levels comes from one of our own customers – Option Alpha.
Take a look:
You can see there are three specific membership levels – Free, Pro, & Elite. Each one of these plans gives the member a different level of access to the content on the site. This is a really smart way to name your membership levels because each level communicates its own value without undermining the others. If a potential member wants to get started with your free resources, they can. And when a Pro member is ready to go deeper, they can upgrade to the Elite level.
You may have also noticed a subtle psychological characteristic of these membership level names. Not only do Free, Pro, & Elite describe the membership levels themselves, they also describe and “name” the person who joins at each level.
This a powerful way to allow your members to identify themselves within your naming structures. Are you a Pro trader? Or an Elite trader? Both are good, but there’s something about that word elite that just stands out. And if you are a Pro, there’s always that next step to strive for.
Later in this post we’ll look at some real-life examples like this one that can give you some ideas for naming your own membership levels.
3. Naming Your Membership Levels Based On User Access
The distinction between naming your membership levels based on user access vs. content access is important enough for us to categorize it on its own. Membership level names based upon user access have more to do with who get access, rather than what they get access to.
Spotify’s subscription level names are an excellent example of what we mean here:
The main thing these subscription level names communicate is who gets access to them. Are you signing up for Spotify just for yourself? Or, is your entire family ready to press play on their favorite songs without hearing ads? If you’re a student (or are scrambling to find your old college .edu email address 😉), you’ll immediately notice the Student membership level and be glad to cash in on these exclusive savings.
If your membership is designed to be used by more than one person – by a team or an organization for example – you may want to consider naming your levels in this way.
4. Membership Level Names Based On Content Delivery
Can you think of an example of some membership level names that are based solely on how the content of that membership is delivered? Any guesses?
Here’s a hint: think about memberships or subscriptions that have both physical and digital products.
If you haven’t already guessed, naming your membership levels based on content delivery is very popular with publications. Take the Wall Street Journal, for instance:
Here you can see that they have three distinct membership level names: Classic Print, All Access Digital, and Print & Digital. The names of these three subscription levels directly correspond with how the content from WSJ will be delivered to you.
Do you only want the print newspaper? Or are you fine with reading it on your iPad? Or… for only $1 more than the Classic Print level, you can have both – Print & Digital.
While the choice to sign up for both seems obvious, this naming convention and pricing strategy is actually a perfect example of a marketing concept called price anchoring.
The subject of how pricing affects conversions is a topic for another blog post (leave us a comment below if you’d like to hear more about that). But, if you’d like a crash course in price anchoring for membership sites, check out this podcast episode we recorded with Mike Morrison. Fast forward to minute marker 20:08 to hear Mike explain what price anchoring is and how you can use it.
If your membership or subscription includes both digital and physical product, naming your membership levels accordingly could be a great strategy for you.
5. Naming Your Membership Levels Based On Supporters
Is your online membership or subscription based on the “patronage” model? Are people signing up because they love your content and want to support you in creating more of it? This is the online subscription model at the heart of sites like Patreon or Facebook Subscription Groups. Your supporters can choose to contribute to you and your efforts at different levels of financial support.
This model is becoming more and more popular and gives you a fantastic opportunity to get creative and specific with how you name your supporter levels. One of our favorite examples of this comes from the Smarter Every Day Patreon account:
These six membership level names – Cat Flipper, Thinker and Doer, Gentleman/Lady Scholar, Prince Rupert’s Drop, Backwards Bicycle Rider, and Researcher Assistant – are fun, creative, and highly relevant to this audience. If these names have you scratching your head, check out this video where they explain the physics of how cats always land on their feet.
If your members really are your supporters or patrons, how could you name your membership levels in a way that was both fun and engaging for them?
6. Interest-Based Membership Level Names
Does your membership cover a lot of different topics and attract a wide audience? If this is the case for you, you might want to consider naming your membership levels based upon your members’ interests.
What do we mean by that?
Let’s take a look at a real-life example that illustrates this idea perfectly:
As you can see in this example from the online fitness platform Daily Burn, they have distinct membership levels designed to appeal to their members’ specific interests. If you’re a yoga enthusiast, chances are you’ll gravitate towards the yoga membership. But, if you prefer running or high-intensity interval training, there’s an option for you as well.
This naming strategy is perfect if you have specific segments in your membership. By naming your membership levels according to an interest, you can get very specific in your communication to each interest and avoid sounding bland or generic by “speaking to everyone and no one at all.”
When someone clicks on the Running membership option, for example, the language you can use to communicate the benefits of this level can be specifically tailored to appeal to runners. Same goes for the Yoga and HIIT levels as well.
This naming strategy might be perfect for you if you’ve never felt like you’ve neatly fit into a hyper specific niche. Definitely consider it if you have a wide variety of content that attracts different people to your membership.
7. Time-Based Membership Level Names
Wait… did we just say time? Yes, we sure did!
This way of naming your membership levels might not seem obvious at first, but it’ll make perfect sense in just a second. Just like your prices are joined at the hip with your membership levels, so too is the amount of time that a member will have access to your content. So, it makes a lot of sense to actually name your membership levels based upon the amount of time that someone will have access. This is especially true if your members only have a need for your membership for a specific amount of time – like a dating site, for example.
Here’s an example of time-based membership level names that you’re probably familiar with from Rosetta Stone:
Here you can see that they’ve chosen to name their membership levels based upon the amount of time that a member will have access: 3 Months, 12 Months, 24 Months, and even Lifetime.
This makes a lot of sense for a subscription business like Rosetta Stone. If you’ve ever tried to learn a foreign language, you know that gaining any level of proficiency in the language takes more than 3 months. Sure, you may be able to learn some basic vocabulary and essential conversation lines… but anything more than that and you’ll need at least 12 months. And when the cost of the 12-month plan is paired up against the Lifetime plan, it seems like a steal to get forever access to unlimited languages for only $79.12 more than the year-long plan.
You might consider this naming strategy if you have a membership that is closely linked with the time it takes to learn the skill you’re teaching. Plus, if you know the Lifetime Customer Value of your members, you can price your lifetime plan above that number so you don’t lose money on recurring subscriptions.
Real-Life Examples Of Expertly Named Membership Levels
Now that we’ve covered the seven main types of membership level names, let’s take a look at some additional examples. Some of these examples you’ll be familiar with, but some will be new to you. As you’re going through these examples, pay attention to how the seven main ways to name your membership levels often get blended together.
Membership Level Names Based On Price
Membership Level Names Based On Content Access
Membership Level Names Based On User Access
Membership Level Names Based On Physical Facility Access
Idea Fab Labs
Membership Level Names Based On Content Delivery AND Supporter Level
The Point Magazine
Membership Level Names Based On Supporter Levels
Membership Level Names Based On Time
How To Use Membership Level Names On Your Site
If you use MemberMouse to power your membership or subscription site, there are some pretty cool ways you can strategically use your membership level names on your site. We won’t go too far into the weeds about this in this post, but here’s a quick overview of how this could look for you.
When you create and name a membership level in MemberMouse, this data can be displayed anywhere on your site or in the email communications you send from MemberMouse. Let’s go back to our example of a membership site that teaches people how to run their first marathon. Imagine that your three membership levels are named Jogger, Runner, and Marathoner.
You could use these membership level names to greet your members on pages or in email using our SmartTag features. Here’s how this would look on your member’s dashboard, for example:
Hey, [MM_Member_Data name='membershipName']! Welcome To Your Member’s Area.
Then, depending on the membership level a specific person belonged to, it would display one of three versions:
Hey, Jogger! Welcome To Your Member’s Area.
Hey, Runner! Welcome To Your Member’s Area.
Hey, Marathoner! Welcome To Your Member’s Area.
The possibilities for implementing this across all areas of your site and in email communications are nearly endless. We hope this quick trip into these nitty-gritty details has been helpful for you.
How Will You Name Your Membership Levels?
Whew! We sure covered a lot in this blog post. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning all about how to name your membership levels and are now walking away with some ideas you can implement on your site.
Now it’s your turn!
As you go through the process of naming your own membership levels, keep in mind the seven main types of membership level names. Ask yourself what kind of membership or subscription you are and name your levels accordingly.
What did you think of this article. Are there any categories of membership level names that we’ve forgotten? Do you have an awesome idea you’d like to share with us? Leave us a comment below and join our discussion. We’d love to hear from you!
Matt is an enthusiastic Marketing Associate at MemberMouse. Originally from Chicago, Matt now resides in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and cat. He loves reading, writing and getting outdoors.