A membership website can be an excellent way to build user engagement and a recurring revenue stream. A staggering 76% of businesses claim that a subscription-based model helps them build long-lasting customer relationships. However, a members-only site may not be the best fit for every brand.
To run a successful membership business, you need to put a lot of effort into producing sustainable content that converts. Your product should be exciting enough for your audience to join the club and stay there. If your company doesn't already satisfy these requirements, a subscription site is probably not the right solution for you.
In this article, we'll discuss four ways to know whether your business needs a members-only site. Let's go!
Understanding Members-Only Sites and Why You Might Need One
First, let's clarify what a members-only site is. In essence, it's a gated part of your website that only registered (and in many cases, paying) users can access. This enables you to offer exclusive content, premium products and services, or other deals that are otherwise not available to the public.
If you already have a WordPress site, you can easily create such an area using our MemberPress plugin. It enables you to run free membership programs, paid ones, or a mix of both.
Some benefits of running a members-only website include:
- It will generate recurring revenue if you charge for access
- Customer loyalty will likely increase due to the investment users make in your site and the sense of community it provides
- Restricted access can help you establish your brand authority by creating a sense of exclusivity
While running members-only sites can be a lucrative business, it does require a lot of work. For instance, you might need to produce a substantial amount of free content to prove your expertise before leads will sign up. It's time-consuming, so it could be hard to stay ahead of competitors.
Finally, your premium content needs to provide exceptional value to convince your visitors it's worth it to subscribe. You'll also need to market it constantly to new potential members. Therefore, it's smart to evaluate your business and consider whether a membership model is right for you.
How to Know Whether Your Business Needs a Members-Only Site (4 Ways to Tell)
Now that we've talked about the benefits and the drawbacks of running a members-only site, you're probably wondering whether your business could use one. In order to find out, you should look for these four key indicators.
1. You Have a Substantial Existing Audience
Starting a membership site is easier if you already have dedicated followers who are willing to convert to paying customers. Ideally, you should have a substantial number of highly engaged users who often comment on your blog posts, interact with you on social media, and are passionate about your brand.
Estimating how large your audience should be to be considered “substantial” is tricky, as it depends on your business and financial goals. Keep in mind that your brand's number of followers on social media alone is generally not a strong indication of how many users might convert if you launch a members-only site.
For instance, you might be a YouTuber with 10,000 casual followers, but only five percent of them subscribe to your channel. Depending on your goals, this may or may not be a satisfying outcome.
On the other hand, someone with 1,000 highly invested fans might convert most of them. Therefore, it's best to target a specific niche and spend some time building a loyal fanbase before launching a members-only site.
2. Your Product Makes a Difference
If you want to convince your visitors to subscribe, your product or service must provide value. How can you tell whether that's the case? If your audience keeps coming back for your content because it provides a solution to a problem they face, you're probably on the right track.
For instance, if you're a fitness instructor, your visitors might find your exercise tips useful because they want to stay in shape. Depending on your niche, you could also provide entertainment, curate evergreen content, or offer business advice.
Whatever your skills are, think of your audience's needs and how your product, service, or content can enhance their lives in ways that other sites can't. Then, focus on your unique selling points to become a go-to specialist in your niche.
3. You Publish Content Regularly
Without a doubt, you'll spend hours creating content each week to satisfy your paying members. Some ideas that might warrant subscriptions include:
- Dripping new posts every day
- Developing an online course
- Creating an e-book
- Running webinars or podcasts
- Hosting a private community forum
On top of that, you should also keep up with your free content. It can help you build a solid customer base and convince your visitors that your expertise is worth a subscription. Plus, it can boost your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
If you don't already publish regularly, you might find it hard to adjust to a members-only site. You'll have to produce large volumes of content, so consider if this effort will be sustainable.
4. You Have a Long-Term Plan
Finally, you should have a solid plan in mind before launching your members-only site so you know what steps you need to take to help it grow and succeed. It's crucial to consider the following:
- Customer journey. Who is your audience, and what do they need? How do you plan to develop casual visitors into dedicated members? Can you retain them?
- Community engagement. Are you willing to spend time cultivating your audience, responding to comments, and maintaining an active presence on your site?
- On-going expertise. Do you see yourself writing about the same subject for years to come? Can you think of sufficient topic ideas for regular content? What can you offer to your paying members that they couldn't get out of your free articles?
- Marketing strategy. How are you going to promote your work? Are you willing to invest in influencer marketing to increase your followers, stay active in relevant online communities, promote your brand on social media, or use other methods to generate leads?
Finally, think of your financial goals and how you intend to price your membership tiers. According to a recent report, membership sites charge between $25 and $49 per month on average. Use this statistic to plan how much work you need to invest to meet your goals.
A members-only site can be lucrative if well executed. However, building a sustainable membership business takes time and energy, so it's crucial to determine whether it's the right solution for your brand at this stage.
To recap, here are four indicators that your business needs a members-only site:
- You already have a dedicated audience.
- Your product or service creates value.
- You produce regular content and can sustain this practice.
- You have a long-term plan and ideas on how to keep members interested.
Do you have any questions about launching a members-only site? Let us know in the comments section below!