Keeping your members hooked is key to keeping your membership site growing and profitable. In this blog post, I’ll be outlining a membership engagement strategy to help you get your members to stay on.
Successfully launching your membership site and recruiting members to join your site are great, of course.
But getting your members excited to consume your content, interact with other members, and just hang around your site is a whole different matter.
It’s up to you to keep your members engaged with your membership site. In this blog post, I’ll describe a membership engagement strategy that you can use to keep your members interested.
Let’s start with the simple stuff.
Give your members a glimpse of what you’re cooking up for the site so they’ll have something to look forward to.
Even if your membership site features evergreen content, you should still be updating and refreshing your content offerings so that your site doesn’t ever get stale.
It’s all in the way you describe the content. Saying “Coming up: a useful video” won’t cut it. You have to present it in such a way that they’ll be excited to see it.
Something like “I’m working on something BIG. Hint: It’s about solving a problem you have probably experienced at least once in your journey. You can’t miss it, so stay tuned for my updates!” will do a better job in intriguing them.
If you’re working on a bigger project that takes a while, sharing sneak peeks of it or maybe behind-the-scenes photos or video clips of you working on it will keep them on their toes, wanting to see the whole project.
Who doesn’t like discounts, right?
Partner up with other companies who sell products or services that your members are likely using and offer discounts and perks that are exclusive for them.
For example, if you’re running a membership site that caters to travelers, partnering up with a luggage company and offering your members a discount or a freebie per purchase would make sense.
As your membership base grows, you can use that as leverage when you contact brands for partnerships. The more companies you partner with, the more exclusive discounts you can offer, and the more likely members will stay on for those perks.
Quizzes are interactive, addictive, and they’re fun!
Answering a quiz commands your attention for those 5 minutes that you’re answering those 10 questions, no matter what it’s about. Even quizzes designed to tell you which Disney villain you are.
Quiz results, especially for personality quizzes like the one from Buzzfeed above, are very personal. They empower members to discover qualities in themselves that they might not even know about sometimes.
Because they are personal, quizzes give you insight into what your members are like; what traits they possess, what they find funny or upsetting, what type of content they find interesting, etc. This information guides you in creating and delivering the best content for your members.
What’s more, you can create quizzes out of practically any topic you can think of, so it fits any niche or any subtopics you might be discussing in your community section.
Surveys can also increase member engagement. Like quizzes, these are also interactive and require your members’ input, but unlike quizzes, these are a more direct way of asking your members for feedback, starting meaningful discussions, and effect significant change.
For example, you can ask a one-question survey about how they like the look of the site. That simple, innocuous question can result in a major design overhaul on your membership site that benefits everyone.
When it comes to membership sites, your members don’t have a lot of expectations in terms of one-on-one communication with you (unless that’s part of their membership package).
So if you can find opportunities to insert small personal touches, they’re likely to be positive experiences that go toward building relationships and loyalty.
The big question, however, is how?
You can start with email replies. Not every email you send should be automated. For example, your onboarding emails would likely ask them some questions like why they joined your site and what kind of content they’re expecting in your site.
Answer those emails yourself. Thank them for signing up, acknowledge their answers and ask follow-up questions if you need to. Lastly, thank them for their time in answering your questions and end by emphasizing that your communication lines are always open if they need something.
Do the same for feedback emails. When one of your members emails you giving you feedback about your site, whether it’s good or bad or funny or annoying, reply to these emails. Make them feel that their feedback is indeed important to you.
Have some extra time in between all your tasks? Surprise your members with a 20- to 30-second video addressed directly to them. It doesn’t even have to be professionally shot with your fancy cameras and dope lighting. Record it with your smartphone, send it, and done.
Of course, you won’t have time to send one to every member in one go. If you see that someone reached a milestone, like an achieved “mini-goal,” that deserves a shoutout. Maybe it’s a personal milestone, like graduating college or buying their first car, or maybe it’s just their birthday.
Find little reasons to randomly surprise people, and observe how much impact it has on your members.
You might have used contests and giveaways to promote your membership site and entice new members to sign up.
Nothing wrong with that, especially if your existing members got to join in the fun.
But hosting contests and giveaways solely for your members has a different feel to it, in that you gain almost nothing in the process but your members’ goodwill toward you.
An exclusive giveaway can be done as a show of appreciation to your members simply for being members of your site. You can do this during important dates, such as your launch anniversary or in honor of getting your 500th or 1000th member, or any milestone that’s important to everyone on the site.
Giveaways can just be the bare minimum; your members can just click a link to enter, choose a winner through an electronic raffle, and done.
By contrast, hosting a contest allows you to ask for greater effort for higher stakes. For example, if you’re in charge of a book club, the contest entries can be photos with their favorite books, with a caption stating the book title, author, and why it’s their favorite.
The prizes for the contest can be free membership fees for a few months, or a full year plus the photo will be used in promotional materials for your membership site.
You can even get your community involved by having them choose the winner through their votes. You can even reward those who vote by raffling off their names and giving out a minor prize.
Contests are a lot of fun and can do a lot for member engagement. However, it’s wise to remember that contests and giveaways are merely incentives and should only be secondary to the main benefits of your membership site and the valuable content your members have access to.
Your member forums are probably the place where your efforts will pay off the most.
For most membership sites, the community is what holds them together. Many of their members hesitate to leave because they feel so rooted in the community that they can’t imagine leaving it.
Luckily for you, your community is also something you can leverage. Here are some ways you can boost engagement in your member forums and the whole community.
Not that I’m pressuring you or anything, but your participation is especially crucial in the first few weeks and months of your launch when all of your members are relatively new to the site.
It’s vital that you lead the conversations and discussions because this sets the tone for your forums in the months and years to come. If there isn’t much activity in your forums, your members will pretty much stop checking in as often as you want them to.
So until your community gains traction and your members initiate the dialogues themselves, you’ll have to do it for them.
It takes a lot of time and effort to get the conversations among your members started, but once it does, you only need to jump in once in a while by answering questions and replying to threads rather than you needing to start everything all the time.
Most of your members joined your website because they wanted to accomplish a specific goal. The more you help them achieve this goal, the more involved they’ll be in your site and the more inspired they’ll be to help other members.
Member challenges are an excellent way to provide mini-goals for your members, keep them focused, and motivate them by giving them a way to record their progress.
For example, if you’re managing a website in the health niche, a good member challenge would be a one-week ingredient challenge. You can ask members to post photos of their meals with the featured ingredient for one week straight.
Running regular challenges doesn’t require much from you. It only needs a concept, basic rules, and a place where your members can record their progress and be accountable to you and their fellow members.
Speaking of being accountable, it’s a good idea to provide a place for your members to track their own progress and then give them a choice if they want it to be visible to everyone else or only to themselves.
While it makes sense that tracking one’s progress helps toward achieving their goals, not all your members may want their progress to be seen by everyone except by themselves and you. And that’s something you should respect as well.
But for members who are spurred to action by the knowledge that their peers are watching and rooting for them to succeed, having a progress log visible to everyone in the site is a good feature.
Popping in to reply to threads and contribute to discussions is good, but having weekly or monthly planned discussions can make a huge difference in your community engagement.
It’s as simple as a weekly motivation thread where you and your members can post content geared toward motivating each other to achieve your goals. You can also have a separate weekly thread that’s strictly related to your site topic, just to keep things organized.
Aside from weekly discussions, monthly threads around a certain theme in your niche can also be helpful and encourage everyone to contribute and help each other.
Not all of your members are going to be active in your forums, and there are plenty of possible reasons why. Respecting everyone’s individuality and how they want to use your membership site is key to harmony.
However, it couldn’t hurt to send an occasional email to members who haven’t posted anything in your forums. Don’t be pushy; just say “hello,” tell them about the trending topics in your forums, and gently suggest contributing to those threads.
Being insistent won’t do you any favors here. Gentle persuasion will work much better in convincing those who want to contribute but forget or are hesitant because they’re confused about where to actually start.
For those who really don’t like contributing in forums and would rather be “lurkers,” being pushy can actually be counterproductive. Tell them that their contribution would be appreciated but don’t pressure them.
By contrast, when a member who used to be really active in the forums suddenly becomes silent, it’s worth reaching out to them. Send them an email saying “hello” and casually saying “We haven’t seen you around in a while. Here are the threads that were popular this week.” Just a gentle reminder, no biggie.
Balance your scheduled content with spontaneous, free-flowing sessions, or hangouts, where you’re not necessarily teaching something or coaching someone.
You can invite your members to go online and ask questions, or you can provide a behind-the-scenes look at what you’re working on. Or you can just tell a random story/stories that you think your members will find interesting.
Whatever approach you select, the point is to get your personality across. You know how stories about celebrities that are “This is how [celebrity] is really like” easily circulate and go viral? That’s what you’re going for: showing your members what you’re really like.
Another good thing about hangouts is that they need minimal preparation and are quite easy to do through Facebook Live or YouTube Live. Announce it when most of your members are likely online so they get a chance to participate.
Member roundups are similar to newsletters, but instead of being only about news on your site, member roundups are more member-focused.
Include news on your site, especially new content that you’ve uploaded that week. After that, do a spotlight on new members who’ve just joined, popular topics and threads in the forum, and shoutouts to members who’ve achieved something.
Be creative with the format. You can have it like your usual newsletter format, or you can try a video format. You can even combine the two by having some of the news in a newsletter format and then the rest in the video.
Schedule this on a weekly basis so that members can look forward to it and set aside time to read it and catch up with the latest on your site. They’ll appreciate the summary if they haven’t logged on but want to stay updated.
Members you’ve put in the spotlight for attaining personal goals will appreciate the acknowledgement and will inspire other members to attain their own goals.
Member roundups help your members stay interested in your site by being updated, plus it encourages those who haven’t been active to log in and participate.
You might think that the hard work is over when you’ve launched your membership site.
In truth, making sure your members are actually engaging with your content, community, and your membership site in general takes much more work than the initial launch.
Here’s a recap of the membership engagement strategy I outlined above.
I just have a final reminder for you when you’re creating your engagement strategy.
Not all membership sites are the same. The strategy I outlined is practical and should get you on your way, but some of them may not apply at all to your membership site or would need a few tweaks so that they work perfectly with your site.
Test a few things out, see if they work, make adjustments if you need to. If they don’t work, try other things. Do this until you formulate something that works for your site.
You might have noticed a recurring theme in the article: that everything begins with you.
How engaged you are with your members in the beginning will dictate how engaged your members will be with your site and with each other. They’ll follow the example you set.
Is this strategy something you’ll apply to your site? Do you have a tactic that worked and I didn’t mention? Tell me in the comments!
JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.