Sure, all membership sites are not the same.
Obvious differences exist based on your products, niche and target audience.
But, its amazing to see how many membership sites go through the exact same problems and challenges during their growth and lifecycle.
And how often, the membership site owners who have achieved the highest growth have always focused on the right things at the right stage of their growth.
If the last statement isn’t clear, let me
explain yell again
Focusing on the right things at the right stage is the key to your membership site growth.
For a real world business, things are pretty simple. No one focuses on hiring more employees, when you don’t have enough customers.
But for an online membership site, often site owners build more products, when they need to be focusing on marketing and lead generation. Or they spend precious time on building the perfect membership site, when they don’t even know if there exists a market for their product.
Root cause of the problem is not knowing the answer to this question – “What is the most important thing I can do right now, to grow my membership site?”
Growth Stages of a Membership Site
Seed, Startup, Growth and Established – Your membership site, can be in any of those four stages.
And it depends on how many memberships or one-time products does you site sell?
- 0-10 memberships/one-time products : Seed
- 10-100 memberships/one-time products : Startup
- 100 – 500 memberships/one-time products : Growth
- 500+ memberships/one-time products : Established
Please note, what follows below is a general guideline and sometimes, you can experience different problems in different stages.
Seed stage membership site : 0 – 10 sales
Problem: Don’t know what you are doing.
At this stage, you might either get no sales at all, or a few sales. There is no way to repeat those few sales usually. In reality you cannot even be sure a dependable market exists for your product at this stage.
Challenge: build all basic site components
Your challenges are mainly in terms of building your site’s various basic components. You might struggle with customizing your site until its ready for basic user flow, having a basic funnel etc.
Its crucial at this stage to know where to stop building your site and not over-build features that no one might want to use. A good rule is to keep removing features in your plan until, a potential member can somehow finish a successful signup and payment to your site.
Opportunity: Create a basic sales message to get your first few members and prove a market exists for product.
The main opportunity lies in your basic sales message. It needs to be effective enough to get your members to sign up. So focusing on your sales copy, or value proposition to your users is of utmost importance.
A common mistake site owners make at this stage, is to think things like design and features are not good enough to get members to sign up and focus on improving those. Failing to understand what is really important in your sales message, and struggle to understand why the users don’t buy are common struggles.
Startup stage membership site : 10 – 100 sales
Problem: Not enough members
At this stage, you have validated your product, and you have some signups happening. But you don’t have just enough members to do the bigger things you aspire to do.
Challenge: Create better sales messages and finding leads
Its important to keep doing what you did at the previous stage, and focus on improving your lead generation and sales messaging. Common activities at this stage can be A/B testing your landing pages, titles and copy. Finding more places to market your membership site to. A combination of offsite and onsite activities around sales messaging, lead generation will help propel your membership site to the next stage.
Opportunity: Create different ways to buy the same product
Opportunity lies in ways you can package your existing product in various ways. Create multiple plans that can attract the potential members. Its important to understand how to design your membership plans, so that it can attract more members.
Growth stage membership site : 100 – 500 sales
Problem: Losing too many members
Strangely, at this stage most membership site owners experience the same problem of people leaving their site. As you keep adding members to the site, you can see them leave as well.
Challenge: Creating engagement and retention
You will have to study their engagement patterns, and why some members leave, while others choose to stay.
Opportunity: Build systems up to scale like customer service and partner programs.
Its important to devote time to building a proper customer service, partner programs, and put in measures to increase engagement, like transactional email notifications, tracking systems, badges, social components etc.
Established stage membership site : 500+ sales
Problem: Sales can slow down. Market saturation and channel saturation.
At this point, you might have reached saturation for your market in your exist marketing channels. Sales can really slow down in terms of growth.
Challenge: Finding new markets for your products or new products for your markets.
Its important, to realize its time to stop your optimization efforts on your existing markets and marketing channels. For eg. no matter how many A/B tests you run on your Facebook ads with your landing pages, the sales aren’t going to see more increase.
Instead you might be better off finding completely new personas and marketing channels for your site.
Opportunity: Create higher end offerings and complimentary products.
At this stage, you can focus on building more products so you can cross-sell, or create higher end offerings for your top members like mastermind groups, and one-on-one premium programs.
The stages described above are to be taken as guidelines.
What do you think is the most important thing you need to focus on, in your membership site right now?
And how can we help you achieve that?
Let us know in the comments below.
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