A membership website can be a subscription site, but that's not always the case. For example, you subscribe to streaming services that allow you access to movies and television shows. However, you become an Amazon Prime member because you have access to unique deals, such as 2-day free shipping.
Other types of businesses can benefit from creating a membership website, too. For example, a music teacher can offer a membership online to individuals who want to learn how to play an instrument, providing them with access to how-to videos and other types of content.
Interested in learning how to start a membership site? You must have a website first. If you have an existing website, you can create a membership aspect of the website or create a new one just for members. Once you have a website ready to start offering gated content to members, follow these steps:
1. Consider your model
Your membership needs to offer something to attract members, so you must consider your offerings and how much you will charge. Depending on your business, you may offer content or deals as part of your membership. Pricing your membership is important because it can deter people from signing up, especially if you don't offer a free trial period to help customers determine whether they should be members.
You can also have different membership levels, allowing people to sign up at a lower rate for less content to determine whether or not they should pay for the higher-level membership. Of course, sometimes it's best to have a membership level to prevent confusion.
2. Create your content
Depending on your business, you'll need to create content. The content can be in the form of articles, infographics, videos, and deals. Having content ready before you push your membership website live will ensure the first members have a reason for staying members for the first month while you still may be trying to figure everything out.
The type of content you create will depend on your membership model. For example, the music teacher we mentioned before will likely create videos showing members how to play an instrument. However, some membership websites don't need to create gated content. For example, if you sell products, you can have a membership website that offers perks instead of content, including free shipping, fast shipping, or monthly deals for members only.
3. Find a plugin or platform
You can turn any existing website into a membership site or build a whole new website just for members. Choose the best one for your membership model when comparing plugins or platforms. Depending on your needs, you may not need the most robust tool available. In addition, the platform you use may depend on your current website because your membership website must seamlessly integrate with it, especially if you want to offer content or perks to members on your website.
No matter which route you choose, your membership website should integrate seamlessly with your CRM to ensure your members get exclusive access to deals and content. You should also be able to segment your audience by subscriber level to ensure your customers are getting targeted emails.
4. Publish and market
Once your membership website is ready to go live and you already have content waiting for members, you can publish the website and begin marketing your membership. When marketing your membership, you'll need a sign-up page with information about what customers can expect when they become members, including pricing options and benefits.
Next, you can start marketing your membership website to your current customers through email and posting on social media. Because your membership website is new, even your most loyal customers won't know if it's the right choice for them, so consider reducing your membership pricing or offering a trial membership to get more people to sign up.
5. Monitor performance
Once you push your membership website live and begin marketing it, you must monitor its performance to ensure it's working well for your members. For example, if your membership website is slow, your members might cancel their memberships because they have issues accessing the content. Meanwhile, if your membership website doesn't offer all the perks you discussed in your marketing efforts, you can't expect members to stick around.
If possible, consider installing heatmaps on your website to get a visual understanding of how people are using it. You should also use analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, to determine the most effective content types.