If you want your membership site to be a success, making it more interactive is key. Social networks like Facebook and discussion forums such as Reddit have proven that people have an appetite for online interaction and that the days of passive content consumption are, if not over, then certainly diminished.
In this article, we’ll cover eleven ways you can make your membership site more interactive, including links to tools that can help WordPress users quickly implement these ideas. However, before we get to these eleven suggestions, let’s quickly look at why you want to make your membership site more interactive.
Why Make Your Membership Site More Interactive?
Encouraging and increasing user engagement is one of the main reasons. When users are engaged, they're more likely to return to your website in the future as well as sign up to access more of your engaging content.
And adding content that’s more engaging and interactive to your membership site can also help increase the perceived value of your product. It’s easier to sell a membership site boasting webinars, quizzes, discussion boards, and interactive tools than one simply comprised of text and images. In addition, your membership site will appeal to a wider audience if it makes use of the different methods of content consumption.
Making your site more interactive can also help increase your membership sign-up conversion rates.
If you can persuade visitors to make a micro interaction with your website, they’ll be more likely to make a larger interaction in the future. This approach is much like the classic foot-in-the-door sales technique, where initially asking for something small improves the chances of getting a yes to a bigger request later on. Asking visitors to do something such as leaving a comment can increase the likelihood of them doing something like becoming a member or purchasing a product down the line.
Finally, interactive website features encourage visitors to return to your site. If a visitor leaves a comment or enters content, there’s a better chance they’ll come back to find out if anyone has replied or if they’ve been successful.
Due to the different benefits of making your site more interactive, it’s recommended you make your new interactive features available to nonmembers as well as registered users. Here are eleven ways to do just that:
How to Make Your Membership Site More Interactive
Now that we’ve covered the whys, let’s talk about the hows.
1) Start a Blog or Podcast and Enable Comments
If you’re using WordPress to power your membership site, using its blogging feature is a quick way to make your website more interactive. When you publish content on a regular schedule, you give visitors a reason to return to your site while also increasing your chances of ranking well in search engines.
When you enable a commenting system for your blog, readers can interact directly with each piece of content you publish. Be sure to respond to comments in a timely fashion to encourage discussion. You may even consider upgrading your commenting system with a service like Disqus.
If writing blog posts isn’t your forte, then all we’ve discussed above, and more, applies to creating a podcast for your membership site.
2) Activate a Content Ratings and Reviews System
Sometimes reader comments aren’t appropriate for your content, or leaving them takes too much time/effort for visitors. The good news is, you can let your audience have their say on your content while reaping the benefits of making your site interactive by using a free plugin like Rating-Widget: Star Review System, which lets visitors easily engage with your content simply by clicking a button.
3) Add a Discussion Forum
Whether you want to add a discussion forum to the protected area of your membership or make it publicly available to all visitors, the free bbPress WordPress plugin makes it easy.
Giving visitors a place to discuss ideas and share thoughts is a great way to make your website more interactive. Depending on how you configure your discussion forum, users can receive notification emails each time new activities take place, helping to draw them back to your site.
Delivering support, offering advice, or just creating a place where your community can bond are just some of the ways to use discussion forums.
4) Leverage Social Networking Features
Social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, pride themselves on their level of user engagement. So why not add some of their best features to your website? WordPress users can install the free social-network-in-a-box BuddyPress plugin and start leveraging social networking features like custom user profiles, groups, activity streams, friendships, and notifications on their sites.
5) Let Visitors Submit Content
Accepting user-generated content on your site has many benefits. Not only does additional content help with your content marketing strategy, it’s sure to encourage engagement. User-generated content comes in many forms, including guest posts to your blog or item submissions to your list articles. Free plugins like Frontend Publishing make it easy to accept content submissions from your audience, while tools like Listly make managing user-generated list posts easier.
6) Start an Email Newsletter
Email marketing benefits your membership site in many ways, one of the biggest being increased interactivity. Offering visitors and members the opportunity to sign up to an email newsletter gives you a way to send them a message whenever you’ve got something to announce. As subscribers can reply to your emails, it gives your audience yet another way to interact with you and to feel part of your community. Hopefully, this increased level of integration also reduces your membership churn rate.
Running a successful email campaign isn’t easy, but building a list of contacts who’re interested in your membership site is worth pursuing.
7) Create Quizzes, Polls, and Surveys
Some people just love answering polls and taking quizzes. For others they’re a necessity, providing them the information they’re looking for. Whether you choose to add fun polls, or serious quizzes that help people decide what action to take next, there are plenty of tools to help WordPress users add them to their sites.
Not only can these features increase membership site engagement rates, they can also make your content more shareable while also giving your audience a reason to come back to your site in the future. Surveys also allow you collect valuable feedback in steering your membership project in the right direction.
8) Publish Interactive Tools
Depending on the topic of your membership site, creating online tools, like calculators or generators, is a great way to make your website more interactive. If you’re running a finance-related membership site, mortgage or savings calculators are a good option; for design-related projects, think color-palette generators. If you don’t want to create any of these tools yourself, a quick Google search will furnish you with something you can add to your website in just a few clicks.
9) Run Contests and Giveaways
There’s nothing wrong with bribing your visitors to engage with you. After all, someone who’s invested the effort in signing up to win a prize is more likely to join your email newsletter or become a member.
Again, WordPress users are spoiled for choice when it comes to running custom raffles and contests on their websites with the free ContestFriend and Pick Giveaway Winner apps being a good place to start.
10) Enable Live Chat
Live-chat tools are used to good effect by many ecommerce stores and websites who sell services. By simply installing a free plugin, you can chat with visitors in real time. This level of interactivity allows you to answer any last-minute questions that may be stopping potential members from taking that final step of joining your site.
11) Don’t Forget Your Contact Page
Last but certainly not least, be sure to add a contact page to your website. This should actually be your first task when it comes to making your website more interactive. If you want to help your visitors get one step closer to becoming members, giving them a way to contact you will not only ensure they can get in touch if they have any questions, it can also provide reassurance that you’re available to them in the future.
As you can see, there are many ways to make your membership site more interactive. Whether you want to keep in touch with visitors after they’ve left your site, give them a reason to come back, or provide more value to existing members, improving the interactivity of your membership site is a smart step on the road to success.
How will you make your membership site more interactive? Let us know in the comments below.