…and whether you should
If your membership site isn’t performing as well as it should, a website redesign and relaunch might be precisely what it needs. However, the thought of doing this might feel a bit overwhelming.
Fortunately, it will always be easier to relaunch a site that “almost works” rather than build one from scratch. With some careful planning and a little effort, you can preserve your existing community and optimize your revenue generation.
In this article, we’ll outline the process for relaunching a membership site. We’ll also explain how you can leverage your existing assets to make the design process as streamlined as possible. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Figure Out Why You Failed
Failure isn’t always a negative. In many ways, it’s the best data you can receive. Try to think of failure as the first step toward success.
In other words, you can use metrics from your existing website to determine why it wasn’t successful the first time around. You can leverage data from a platform like Google Analytics to identify potential problems with traffic or content:
For example, if your engagement time is down, it could mean that your website has been slowly decreasing in relevance to its audience. If you’re seeing few new users, it’s possible you weren’t performing sufficient marketing.
Ask yourself a few important questions:
- Did my website have an audience? How large was that audience?
- What revenue would I need to keep the site going? How can I capture that revenue?
- What value did I provide to my audience? Is it worth paying for?
There are many sites that struggle with success and monetization. Let’s consider two theoretical examples:
- John wants to re-launch his exercise membership site. He had 20,000 active users, but only 500 premium users. He believes this is because he offered little premium content and it wasn’t promoted properly. He’s going to be adding more content, making that content visible, and using clearer calls to action (CTAs).
- Samantha wants to re-launch her professional services membership site. She had 5,000 active users, and couldn’t seem to sell any of the services she provided. She isn’t quite sure why the site failed, but she thinks that if she markets it more heavily, she’ll increase her odds of success.
John has a clear idea of why he failed, leading him to the logical next steps. Samantha doesn’t really know why she failed, so she’s not likely to be successful – she knows that she needs more users, but she doesn’t know why they failed to commit.
Step 2: Investigate Your Value Proposition
Next, you’ll want to determine what it is about your website that’s unique and worth saving. Is your membership site useful? Did you successfully build a community?
As you explore why your site failed, you might be tempted to take away some features, streamline your membership platform, or otherwise make broad changes. However, if you don’t do this carefully, you also run the risk of removing elements that users actually liked.
Reviews and testimonials are a great place to look for unbiased commentary on your site’s value:
The above review highlights the platform features the reviewer found most useful. These are areas the site’s developers might want to emphasize in the future. Importantly, they wouldn’t want to take away any of these features, especially if many different users offered similar feedback.
Another smart technique is to review your website’s stats and see which pages users spent the most time on or engaged with most frequently. These are the core areas of your site that you should change the least.
Step 3: Create Your Criteria for Success
At this point, you’ll want to identify the key metrics that will tell you whether your site is doing better this time around. If you had 3,000 monthly active users and were barely scraping by, you may need 6,000 to remain solvent.
Understanding your criteria for success is vital. If you don’t have a target to hit, you won’t know whether you are successful. Some achievable goals might include:
- Increasing users
- Improving revenue
- Getting more advertising dollars
Not only should your goals be achievable, they should be as precise as possible. For example, you might expand on the above objectives as follows:
- Achieve more than 60,000 active users in six months
- Average $10,000 per month in revenue
- Average $2,000 per month in advertising dollars
In addition, make sure you have a method for tracking these metrics. It’s best to calculate how much activity you would need to make the project truly viable, and create projections out for the next six months, twelve months, and three years.
Step 4: Gear Up for Your Relaunch
The above steps should have given you the information and goals you need to make whatever changes are necessary for your website. Just how you go about making those changes will entirely depend on your site’s unique elements.
Before you start that process, however, you’ll want to connect with your community to let them know what’s happening and to get them excited about the changes.
First, start your pre-launch buzz. You can directly address the changes you’re making to your platform by sending out emails and building landing pages:
Especially if your site will be down for a time, when people try to visit they’ll need to see something. You could even capture a “waitlist” so you can notify people when the website is live again.
In the lead-up to the relaunch, you may also want to:
- Reach out to any content creators you’ll need to develop new content.
- Get moderators on board, if needed, to ensure that the user experience is a positive one.
- Send out regular email blasts to the subscribers on your email list.
Finally, go through your pre-launch checklist once again, to ensure that you haven’t missed anything important.
Step 5: Relaunch Your Site
Once you’re ready to relaunch your site, it’s time to create a coordinated launch effort. You might post to social media, create new content, and optimize your SEO. You can also invest in paid marketing – at least as long as it takes to rebuild your organic traffic.
When Reddit dramatically redesigned its site, it rolled the new version out slowly over the user base. It also continually posted updates and announcements:
A lot of people dislike change, and those voices are usually loudest. For that reason, while you should be listening to your community, you also need to look at your metrics.
If people say that the site is worse, but your metrics have improved, you’re probably best off staying the course.
Most membership sites are constantly evolving. So once you have re-launched, you may want to start thinking about the features, content, and value you might add in the future.
Giving some thought (and airtime) to this will reassure members that you’re committed to the platform, you’re going to develop it in the future, and it’s something they should invest their time and money in.
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Not every membership site is an instant success. Sometimes, you need to make some adjustments before your site can live up to its potential.
In this article, we discussed the five most important steps for relaunching a membership site:
- Figure out why your site wasn’t successful.
- Prove that your site has something to offer.
- Identify what success will mean to you.
- Ramp up to another launch.
- Relaunch your site.
Do you have a membership site you’re considering relaunching? Tell us about it in the comments below!
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