If you’re thinking of creating a paid membership product, or you already have one and it’s not quite living up to your expectations, here’s some advice on building a customer base for your premium membership site.
Market Research: Is There a Demand for Your Project?
Before you get started, it’s vital to carry out market research to establish whether there’s a demand for your proposed project. Even if you’ve already started work on your paid membership course, it’s never too late to research the market and pivot, if necessary.
A quick way to start your market research is to see if there are other, similar, products already out there. Competition can be a good thing, and if there are established players in your field, it indicates there’s a demand for your idea. Tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Keyword Finder can help you find out how many people are searching for your project idea.
Another avenue for market research is monitoring social media, discussion forums, and sites like Quora. Anywhere users post questions in search of solutions to their problems is a good place to look. If people are already discussing your idea or facing related problems and difficulties, there’s good chance you’ve got a market for your paid resources.
Tools like Google Trends can also give you a good indication if the popularity of your idea is headed in the right direction, as can media coverage and social-media mentions in general. Your idea might not yet have much competition, but you could be riding the crest of a wave in terms of growing popularity, and monitoring online mentions can be an effective way to find out.
“It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.”
— Steve Jobs
Sure, some companies have changed the world by creating products their customers didn’t know they needed, but this approach isn’t for the fainthearted and takes a special type of entrepreneur to pull it off. If there’s no market or current demand for your membership program, you may want to rethink your plan.
Offer Exceptional Value: Create the Best Content You Can
Once you’ve established that there’s a demand for your paid membership course or you’ve decided to proceed regardless, it’s time to create your premium content or reevaluate your existing materials.
If there are competitors in your niche, don’t be afraid to sign up for their membership courses to see what they have to offer, or at least opt in to their sales funnel. What type of content are they producing? Do they host regular webinars? How else are they interacting with their members to keep them engaged? These questions can help you elevate your course material above the competition’s and provide the most value to your members.
There’s no point entering a crowded market unless you are prepared to go the extra mile. The best marketing in the world won’t keep your members engaged with paid content month after month if your membership site isn’t up to par.
If you are charging your members recurring monthly subscription fees, you’ll need to offer exceptional value to keep them signed up.
Marketing and Driving Traffic: You Must Be Proactive
“If you build it, he will come.”
— Ray Kinsella
Building it and waiting for your users to come may have worked for Kevin Costner in a Field of Dreams, but it probably won’t work for your membership course.
Even if you do want to sit back and wait for the traffic to start arriving at your membership website, you're going to have to engage in some serious SEO efforts to start popping up in the search engines regarding the queries your audience is making.
Of course, content marketing and regular blogging should be part of your membership marketing strategy, but so should holding free online events, guest posting on other blogs in your niche, setting up an affiliate program, and paid advertising.
This is definitely one area you’ll want to focus on in building a customer base for your premium membership site. There are plenty of reasons why your membership marketing efforts will fail, but if you get it right, the results can be fantastic.
Once traffic does start flowing your way, be sure to read our guide on how to turn free visitors into paid members.
Always Be Optimizing: Don’t Get Complacent
The ABC of sales may be “Always be closing,” but for paid membership sites, “Always be optimizing” should be your mantra. Once you’ve started growing your premium membership-product customer base, it’s time to find out what your users are doing so that you can see how to improve their experience.
Optimizing your membership site can help keep your users happy and increase the lifetime value of each new signup to your course. Using a free service like Google Analytics is a proven way to find out what your members are doing.
If you want to learn more about your audience, be sure to 1) establish which content you’re offering is most popular, including content on different membership tiers; 2) use goal tracking to find out which traffic sources deliver the best results; and 3) analyze internal site searches to see what content your members are looking for and how you can help them find it more easily.
And keeping an eye on metrics like bounce rates, time on site, and pages visited per session is always a good idea.
Final Thoughts on Building a Customer Base for Your Premium Membership Site
You now have a good idea on how to build a paying audience for your membership course.
The MemberPress WordPress plugin makes it easy to set up your paid membership site, but it’s up to you to ensure that there’s a demand for your course, that your content is up to standard, and that you’re able to drive the right kind of traffic to your site.
If you can do all of the above, there’s no reason why your premium membership product won’t be a success.
What stage are you at in your membership-site building journey? What’s holding you back from cultivating a membership of paying users? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.