8 Membership Site Mistakes You Want to Avoid

membership site mistakes

Because it can be applied to a wide variety of niches, the membership site model is one of the best monetization methods out there. In addition to that, all the indicators point toward consistent growth of this market segment into the future. 

And while it can be a lot of work to convert visitors into paying members, it’s a great feeling once the conversions start rolling in. 

The thing is, this feeling of achievement brings with it another set of problems. It’s one thing to persuade visitors to become members on your site, and a completely different (and more difficult) endeavor to keep newly converted members happy and coming back for more. 

In this post, we’ll go over the most frequent membership website mistakes related to member retention and give you a few tips for limiting the outflow of members on your site. Let’s get to it!

Mistake #1 – Losing Your Momentum

Getting your membership site off the ground takes a lot of time and effort. You have growth and marketing strategies to think of and membership-base building tactics to tackle. It’s a tough market out there. So, after your site starts growing and building momentum, reducing the intensity of that effort may sound appealing.

But one of the biggest membership site mistakes we see is that of slowing down and decreasing engagement with members.

However, after you’ve established your presence is not the time to relax. It’s actually when you need to power up your efforts.

The first step you should take is to make sure communication with your members is in tip-top shape. Not too much, not too little. Find a good balance between pushing a pesky marketing strategy and engaging with your members, gathering, and using their feedback and input.

It won’t take long to find the right balance. Test out a few strategies and stick those that get the best results. Doing so will strengthen your customer base and build trust and loyalty to keep you going for the long haul.

Mistake #2 – Pushing Your Members Too Much

Some membership site owners make the mistake of overcommunication and end up looking like spammers.

People have become accustomed to their inboxes being flooded with emails from different sites and brands. And that has made catching their attention increasingly difficult. Sending too many emails in an effort to keep your customers engaged is likely to backfire. Balance is key.

You not only want to avoid your emails being ignored or flagged as spam, you also want to steer clear of causing members to cancel their memberships because of too many emails.

Some communication is good (even essential). For example, you want to communicate news about your brand, new products, upgrade offers, or fresh blog posts. But keep things short and sweet. Don’t send multiple emails a day or waste your members’ time with irrelevant information. 

People will appreciate getting regular relevant information and resources (that they’ve signed up for). But they won’t appreciate being bombarded with too many offers or marketing emails.  

Carefully balance the quantity and quality of the emails you send out to your members.

Mistake #3 – Slacking Off On Customer Support

Another common membership website mistake is not paying enough attention to customer support. Membership sites are like real-life communities, and the only way to keep a community happy is by responding to its members’ needs.

Once you’ve managed to secure a good customer base, you need to turn your efforts into nurturing your relationship with your customers. Bad customer service can lead to bad reviews, disengagement, or even abandonment – all things you can’t afford. 

Provide customers easy access to customer support via phone, live chat software, or a chatbot builder, and create simple procedures for solving the most common customer issues.

Mistake #4 – Neglecting Customer Experience

Customer experience is not only about how well you support your members. The overall customer experience is based on several different factors.

In today’s world you can’t afford a bad user experience and design. There are just too many tools available to choose from (many of them free to the public). That means the proper setup of your membership website and planning your members’ journey have to come first.

First, your website should be intuitive and easy to navigate, which can be easily achieved through the use of a landing page builder. Providing the right information in the right way increases your chances of getting more conversions. 

How your website looks and functions will determine how much time people spend on it and will affect your search engine rankings. Good website design also increases engagement. So, invest in this aspect before moving on to other things on your to-do list.

Second, keep things running smoothly. Make sure your pages load properly and rapidly, and make information accessible. Keep things fresh and exciting for users by adding regular content, running engagement campaigns, and adding useful tools.

Review a customer’s journey through their eyes. Is your design intuitive? Do you make it easy for them to sign up? Pinpoint areas where you could do better. Once they’ve subscribed, offer your members choices and plenty of information, including the option to cancel their subscription without too much hassle.

Mistake #5 – Not Having a Content Strategy and Not Sticking to a Content Calendar

As mentioned, members will expect value if they’re to stick around and keep paying. Unfortunately, we see this membership mistake too often. Sites start off with high-value content based on a well thought out strategy, then let their content go downhill from there.

Continuing to build and distribute great content is how you’ll maintain and grow your membership site. To speak clearly to your audience and be coherent through all your media channels, you should consider using a content calendar tool to keep everything on track.

You need to create fresh content, offering users good value, and deliver it at regular intervals. Your content strategy needs to be consistent and follow the same style. Otherwise, your members will check out.

Your core content is a good starting point. Use it to branch out and create content that deals with popular topics in more depth. But, don’t stop there.

Use the insights you can gain from your member community to branch out even further and create content on totally new topics your users care about. This way, you’ll not only keep your existing members engaged, you’ll also increase your chances of attracting new ones by tapping into new topics.

Mistake #6 – Changing What You (Maybe) Shouldn’t

Of all the membership website mistakes we’ve seen, this one presents the toughest challenge.

Keeping things fresh and engaging shouldn’t mean a complete shift from your initial strategy. Again, you need to maintain a fine balance. Constantly innovate but don’t go overboard. Fresh is exciting and drives commitment. Too many changes and inconsistency, on the other hand, can be confusing and unappealing to users.

Ditching the core elements that helped you build a membership base is a bad idea. After all, it’s those elements that earned you success in the first place.

Any changes you decide to make to your initial strategy should be well planned and thought out. It will take time for any (even small) shift to reveal how your members respond. So, take things gradually and avoid any shocking tactics. This will also allow you to make adjustments along the way and keep things going in the right direction.

The best tactic you can use is to base any changes on what your members are telling you. Look into their needs and questions, and respond to their problems. Remember the reasons why your members joined in the first place, and don’t stray away from them.

Mistake #7 – Not Focusing on Retention

Focusing on growth rather than retention is a common membership site mistake. While attracting new members is important, it should not come at the cost of established members.

Yes, you will get cancellations. It’s a fact. Many people subscribe and then realize after a few months that your product or service wasn’t right for them. Or, they realize they just don’t need it anymore.

Don’t take it personally. The one thing you should not miss out on when a member decides to cancel their subscription is the reason why. You can learn a lot from this valuable information.

Doing an exit survey and understanding why members are opting out can help you improve your strategies and retain more business.

A good way to improve retention rates is by communicating with your subscribers and understanding what works for them and what doesn’t. Ask them what improvements they think you should make, what services they think you should focus on more, and what they appreciate most about your product.

Also, a great way to make sure you retain as many members as possible is by offering the option to pause rather than cancel memberships. The hope is that the paused member will return by themselves. But this option also allows you to take advantage of email marketing to reach out to paused members for reactivation.

Mistake #8 – Not Keeping Your Eyes and Ears Open

One of the greatest membership site mistakes is not listening to your community.

Your content can only be successful if it delivers what people want. And instead of guessing what they want, why not find out at the source? Existing users are a pool of valuable information.

While you may have your own opinions as to what direction you should follow, getting live feedback from people who use your product and are your target market is invaluable.

As your membership site grows, you might consider investing in a brand tracking tool to help you stay on top of, and respond to, comments and mentions related to your brand. Hootsuite and Sprout Social are two great platforms you might want to check out.

Your target market will have specific needs and questions, and these should be the basis of your growth strategy above all else. Asking for feedback and getting customer insight will also help you avoid overthinking.

Conclusion

Growing a good membership website is well worth the effort. Caring for and understanding your members is what will keep them loyal, and successful membership sites build a feeling of community that keeps their existing members happy. The bottom line when it comes to running a successful membership site is simple: listen to your members.

Do you know of any other membership site mistakes we didn't mention? Or do you have questions? Let us know in the comments!

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Categories: Advice Content Marketing
About Blair Williams

Blair is the creator of MemberPress. He is an experienced Software Developer who has created large scale web apps for scores of businesses. He now focuses on WordPress and Ruby development -- in particular the WordPress plugins he has created: MemberPress, Pretty Links, and Affiliate Royale. You can read his blog by visiting BlairWilliams.com.

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