The Art of Selling Online Courses

Boosting Membership Engagement with Mike Morrison

October 23, 2023 John Ainsworth Season 1 Episode 108
The Art of Selling Online Courses
Boosting Membership Engagement with Mike Morrison
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Welcome to the new episode of The Art of Selling Online Courses!
Our new guest is Mike Morrison, the insightful co-founder of Membership Geeks and Membership Academy. 

We are going to unwrap the golden secrets of boosting membership engagement using the power of strategic emails. 

We unfold the critical aspect of onboarding and content delivery. Mike will walk you through the importance of segmenting your audience into three to five key categories, ensuring that each member receives content that is most relevant to them, enhancing their engagement.

Speaker 1:

Memberships are a value exchange. If you want people to pay you on an ongoing basis, you need to deliver value on an ongoing basis, and that just doesn't mean just throwing more and more content, more and more stuff at them. No one joins a membership for stuff. It means showing up, it means serving your community. It means delivering content that actually produces results, as opposed to just gives people something else to read or, you know, something to distract themselves with for a few hours but doesn't actually move them forward. So you need to deliver that value. You give people value in the form of helping them in their journey. They'll give you value in the form of their hard-earned money.

Speaker 2:

Hello and welcome to the art of selling online courses. We're here to share winning strategies and secret hacks from top performers in the online course industry. My name is John Ainsworth and today's guest is Mike Morrison. Mike is co-founder of the Membership Geeks and Membership Academy, where he's been the driving force behind countless successful membership businesses. He's the host of a popular podcast and international speaker, author of three best-selling books, and has been featured on the likes of Social Media Exam and the Huffington Post and Net Magazine.

Speaker 2:

Today, we're going to be talking about maximizing your membership engagement through strategic emails. From the essential components of your weekly digest to tailoring content for various stages of your subscriber's journey. We're going to explore how to keep members excited and involved. Stay tuned to discover how to create meaningful connections through your membership communication. Now, before we dive into our interview with Mike today, I've got an important question for you have you got course business or membership business? And if so, did you know?

Speaker 2:

There's a short list of techniques that can help you to double, to quintuple your revenue. There's eight techniques that my team uses to help online course creators and membership businesses to grow their revenue, and the average rate of return from using these techniques is 486%. That's from people who've implemented all eight of them. If you want to find out more about them and how they can help you to scale your income, then go to PimpYourFunnelcom and on that page there's a short 10-question survey. It takes about three minutes to fill out, and after you fill it out, my team is going to create a personalized profit increase report for you.

Speaker 2:

In it, we're going to show you how you can increase your revenue using the eight techniques. We'll show you which one to start with. We'll show you how much each one can grow your business, and so you'll know what to do next. You're also going to get exclusive training on what to do to actually implement each of them. So go to PimpYourFunnelcom, fill in the short survey, get your free report and discover how to double, to quintuple, your revenue. Mike, welcome to the show man. Thanks so much for coming on.

Speaker 1:

Mike.

Speaker 2:

So talk to us about emails from membership. So this is let's come to start back at the beginning. One mistake that I've seen people make is they do some marketing to get people to buy stuff on them and then don't follow up enough with them after that. So what is the problems with that approach? What's kind of wrong with the way that people do that?

Speaker 1:

Mike, I mean, I think people do that with every type of product, with courses, with you know if they're selling ebooks, even you know. In service businesses they think that getting the sale is the end of that commercial relationship and you only revisit that relationship when you want to get another sale. But with memberships, getting that sale is the beginning, right, it's not the finish line, it's the starting pistol. It's not enough to just get that sign up. You need to get that person to essentially buy month after month, year after year, and to stick around and to continue subscribing. So memberships, being a retention business, mean that what happens after the sale is infinitely more important than what happens before the sale.

Speaker 1:

But I think as marketers we're not geared to think that way. You know, if someone's thinking of their funnel, what's at the end of the funnel? If you draw that inverted pyramid, what's at the bottom? It's a sale, right. But yeah, with all products we should be following up in general. But with a membership, that's the business, that's the model. And email plays a big, big part in that. What you deliver, what you do on your website and you know what happens inside, plays a huge part in that as well. And the people who fail with memberships are the ones who don't pay any attention to retention. That wasn't meant to rhyme there, it just happened that way.

Speaker 2:

And do you have any data on how long people tend to stick around in memberships?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, data around the world of online memberships it's pretty hard to come by just because it's such a cottage industry. It's a niche of a niche of a niche, or we were talking before. We have quite a lot of people on the other side of the Atlantic. It's a niche of a niche of a niche. So most of the data you'll see that gets bandied around about memberships actually comes from the broader subscription world software, sas, stuff like that. We run an online membership industry report which is available free with no opt in. Can I plug it? Because there's no opt in? There's no email. Yeah, if you go to membership benchmarkscom, you can download our free industry report with all of the data in there. We don't even want the email from you, we just want to get this data out there because there's not good data about online memberships.

Speaker 1:

For a long, long time. The myth that people would only stay in a membership for three months was what you would hear online. That's absolute nonsense. Like that would be a turn rate of 33 in the third. Nobody would ever start a membership if you're churning through members that quickly. So from the data we've been able to get and from a variety of other sources, you're generally looking at nine to 10 months for an average member tenure. That will vary your mileage will always vary on those things but that does tend to be the typical length of time someone will stick around. So if you're at about 10% and below for an online membership, you're doing okay. 5% and below, that's kind of the holy grail. That's the real point at which you're kind of nailing member retention. But yeah, 9 to 10 months, 5% to 10% churn rate is where you want to be at.

Speaker 2:

All right, cool. So people can see that's an issue. They need to be figuring out how to get people to stick around. Obviously, if you increase the amount of time people stick around, it suggests that they are having a better experience in getting more value out of what you're doing and you get to make more money from each person and you might even get more referrals from those happy customers who are sticking around for longer. What do people need to do? What's the steps going to go through to get people to stick around for longer?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So retention starts day one minute one. The second someone joins your membership. The clock is ticking right.

Speaker 1:

We need to get to work at ensuring that they stick around at the end of that first billing period. That's really most important phase of that member journey. So we want to make sure that your member onboarding is absolutely right. We need to get people building the sort of habits that will make them more likely to stay. So we want them logging in, we want them consuming content, we want them diving into the community and ideally, we want them to get some sort of win or some sort of result that tells them okay, this is how it works. If I stay in this site and I do what they tell me to do and I use the resources they give me, I'm going to benefit, I'm going to win. And even if it's a tiny little, small win, if you can demonstrate your ability to give someone a small win, they're going to trust you to deliver the big ones. So we need to make sure that your member onboarding is right. First and foremost, those initial days, weeks of someone's time with you, is where you really need to build that connection. You really need to build those habits. You also need to make sure you're delivering, you're providing value.

Speaker 1:

Memberships are a value exchange. If you want people to pay you on an ongoing basis, you need to deliver value on an ongoing basis, and that just doesn't mean just throwing more and more content, more and more stuff at them. No one joins a membership for stuff. It means showing up, it means serving your community. It means delivering content that actually produces results, as opposed to just gives people something else to read or, you know, something to distract themselves with for a few hours but doesn't actually move them forward. So you need to deliver that value. You give people value in the form of helping them in their journey. They'll give you value in the form of their hard earned money. You also need to really tap into the power of community. It's a well known kind of trite saying now that members will come for the content, but they'll stay for the community, and that's definitely true in memberships. Whether it's an online forum, whether it's a Facebook group, a social media group, Slack channel, WhatsApp group, you need somewhere for your people to come together. Yes, content is great. Yes, all the shiny bells and whistles are great, but true connection, friendships, accountability and just being with people who have a shared passion, a shared goal like that is worth its weight in gold and that will keep people sticking around long beyond the point at which they've exhausted your content. People will get hooked on the friendships, the people they know, the connections that they make in your community.

Speaker 1:

And the other really important and often overlooked factor for member retention is making sure that you have something in place for handling failed payments. This is called a dunning process. Fail payments leads to involuntary churn, Like voluntary churn. That's the thing you have a little less control over. Voluntary churn is where someone decides they don't have the money, they don't have the time and they take action to end their subscription with you.

Speaker 1:

In voluntary churn is what happens when the credit card payment fails.

Speaker 1:

Someone doesn't have the money in their account this month because they weren't expecting the bill to come in and it's an annual renewal and you didn't tell them that was going to happen.

Speaker 1:

And that can kind of be the silent killer for memberships, Like it can account for 20 or 25% of lapsed members because often if you don't have a process in place to handle those failed payments, you're relying on those members to figure out what they're supposed to do. Like do they just wait for you to retry? Is there a page they need to go to on your website to resubmit stuff? You can't rely on your members to figure this out or to even realise that they're failing out. They might not know until they get that email from your membership saying why did you leave? And they're kind of thinking did I leave? So you need to make sure you have that dunning process in place to handle your failed payments as well. So I would say there kind of the four big, big areas that you should be focusing on in order to keep people subscribed to your membership long term.

Speaker 2:

Alright, so let me just try and recap. So we had the the dunning process. Is it a dunning process? What's the right? Yeah, dunning process. Yeah, dunning Cool Community, making sure you're delivering value and getting them a win. Was that the four things?

Speaker 1:

So member onboarding? So yeah, onboarding, delivering that value and actually knowing what value people are looking for Like. Too often, I think membership owners, content creators in general, think that content equals value. If I give them more stuff that they like, then the amount that they value what they're getting from me will go up. It just doesn't work like that. Anyone who's had to, you know, hunt their way through all the nonsense and rubbish programs that are on Netflix and Amazon Prime these days to find that one good show. More stuff doesn't mean more value. So you need to get the value proposition right, you need to get your onboarding on point, you need a solid failed payment dunning process and you need to leverage the power of community and recognize how important that is for long term retention.

Speaker 2:

Alright, so let's kind of break some of those down then. So the onboarding let's start with that. What does that look like? What do people need to replace?

Speaker 1:

Okay, email is going to play a big, big part of this because we need to go to where they are Right, the stuff that you do on your website. So I always recommend having kind of a series, almost like a mini funnel, of sections that people go through on your website right after they've joined up, because you've got them there right. But the email follow-up is going to be more and more important because you can't rely on them logging into your website to actually, you know, continue the onboarding process. So the very third thing you need to make sure you're doing, you need to make sure you give people a warm welcome, Right? So the first thing they see when they've completed registration shouldn't just be a rubbish looking page that just says thanks, you're now a member. Like we want a big, in your face, bold, friendly welcome message, Ideally from you.

Speaker 1:

A lot of online memberships. They're built around a personal brand, an expert, an influencer, a face of the business or a team, Right. So that's who should be front and center welcoming someone into your membership, Kind of just making them feel good about their decision to join, and then confirming that they made the right choice, putting to bed any concerns they might have when they were joining up as to. You know, am I just giving money that someone's going to take? So ideally a video, or it can just be a gif. We used to have a little gif on ours of us popping kind of like one of those party poppers right, as a kind of like hooray, hooray, Right. So you need to give them that warm welcome, give them the warm, fuzzy feelings about the fact that they've joined. From there, you want to provide some form of orientation. So don't just throw people into your membership. Most memberships are quite vast. There's a lot of sections, a lot of content. Give them some sort of walkthrough.

Speaker 1:

I like using tour videos. So use something like ScreenFlow or Camtasia to record a screencast of you, literally click by click, showing people around the key points of your membership site. Leave no doubt as to where they should go to get what they want to get and highlight some of the things they should do early on. If you need them to fill in their profile or whatever, show them where that is. You can get really fancy, really ninja, with this. There are some tools and plugins that will let you create kind of interactive tours. They're a little bit trickier, Like if you don't have a web developer. They can be a little trickier, the software to run them can be a little more costly. So a tour video, some sort of walkthrough, is really, really ideal just to help people bed in.

Speaker 1:

So from there you want to think about the ideal first four or five steps you want people to take on your site. That's going to get them off to the best possible start and plant the seed for those habits we talked about. So if you want people to dive into the community, show them how to do that, tell them what to do. Quite often that will just be, you know. Go and introduce yourself.

Speaker 1:

So have a section in your community for new member introductions. Give people a checklist, the first five things you need to do right now to get off to the best possible start. One might be watch the tour video which we've just shown them. Number two could be to fill in a new member questionnaire where they give you a little bit of info about them, about what they're looking for, where they are on your journey. That's going to help you ride across the board because it's going to tell you, first and foremost, what parts of your marketing are working If you ask them where they found you and what part your messaging is working If you ask them what their number one priority is or their number one reason for joining is. But also you can get information that helps you segment future communications, future emails, future content based on where they are on their journey, so that new member questionnaire can be really powerful.

Speaker 1:

But then you can be filling your profile if you've got the community element, go and introduce yourself into the community, and if you give them kind of a template, if you give them a guide on what that should look like, and then it might be, you know, start with this piece of content and that's it. You just want to kind of do those things, and then what you would also do is you would supplement that with email. So one of the first emails you might send them in that follow up once they've joined could be reiterating those five things. And you know you tell them save this star, this, keep this in your inbox and refer back to it and make sure you get these things done. So I think everything that you're doing on your website to onboard them should be supplemented by email as well, because at this stage we can't rely on them proactively.

Speaker 1:

Coming back to your website. And again you can, some people will take those five things and then they'll send separate emails about them in the in the following weeks. It kind of depends on how substantial those steps are. And you know, again, you can get really ninja if you are able to kind of tag people in your CRM based on whether they've done these things and then obviously send conditional emails to people if they haven't. Yeah, you can get really in the weeds with this.

Speaker 1:

But to start with I would say the warm welcome orientation, your first five steps checklist and then from there you want to be kicking in with your email follow up where you're directing them to your site to take those actions. You're making them away. You're highlighting some key things in your site, some key recommender content. You're checking in with them. You know, a couple of weeks into their membership you check in with them, see how everything's going or you're having any problems navigating the website.

Speaker 1:

I just having those touch points, just touching base, making sure that they're informed about what they should be doing. They know where everything is and they know that a dialogue is opened with you whereby they can just hit, reply, tell you if they're having a technical issue, tell you what they're stuck, tell you if they're confused. That should carry on through their first month and it should carry on beyond that. But the first month is where you really need to look at what. What info do I really need to give them to get the best possible and how can I get this to them and spread it out without overwhelming them. That'll be different for different memberships according to, obviously, what's on the inside, but focusing on that first 30 day period is really really key in the follow up to that initial onboarding experience we talked about.

Speaker 2:

Got it Okay, and then one of the things that comes up for me is how do you manage to make it easy for people to know what content to go through? Does that come under the make sure you're delivering value part of it, or is that under orientation or the onboarding, or is that a bit of both?

Speaker 1:

It's a bit of both. So I mentioned having a new member questionnaire. This can really really help being able to get the right content to the right people at the right time. You know, I appreciate it as it is Really really comes out the segmentation. So if you can identify three to five key segments within your audience, so it might be segmenting people based on where they are in the journey. So for us, we've condensered out with two key segments.

Speaker 1:

Now, really, I've not got a membership up and running. I've got a membership up and running and I want to grow it. Those are the two main groupings of segments. We kind of go a little bit more into it, but really those determine two very different journeys within our membership and membership academy, because we have different core content. There's different priorities, different needs to be met and what have you. So you can find that out right from the get.

Speaker 1:

Go with a new member questionnaire where you literally just have a question with a dropdown list or a checkbox when are you right now and they pick from that list. That applies the tag in your CRM, depending on the software you're using. We use WordPress so you can use a tool like WP fusion where it also kind of makes that tag and that segmenting information available within your website as well and you can do some fancy stuff with it there, and that can be used for conditional content, conditional emails and giving people the next step to the most relevant content, rather than saying, well, just go to our library and search for what you need.

Speaker 1:

Because, they don't know what they need, or they might know what they need, but they haven't got that Google foo, they haven't got that ability to actually search and filter. So, yeah, segmentation, which you can do via your new member questionnaire, you can do via email. So you'll see this way You'll send an email, click which one of these five statements applies to to you. The one they click on applies the tag, and then you do the segmentation that way. And, yeah, you don't want to go over the top. You don't want to have I would say you don't want to have really more than five segments, because you're going to end up having the most convoluted spaghetti junction of a membership and kind of email set up. But you can identify three to five, whether that is stages in a journey, whether that is competency level, so it might be begin, intermediate, advanced music websites in particular, will use that or it might be sub topics, so you might have you've got a very broad membership that just teaches marketing First and foremost. Niche that down, because first, don't do that.

Speaker 1:

Don't do that Niche, niche, niche, but say you teach marketing. Oh, actually, let's niche it down. Let's just say you teach paid advertising. Well, obviously, paid advertising can break down into Facebook ads, youtube ads, google ads. You can break down further into display network, and so you can segment on that basis.

Speaker 1:

Generally, though, I would say segmenting the member journey is better if it's based on where they are in a process or based on competency.

Speaker 1:

But, yeah, if you can capture which segment someone's in maybe just if they've been on your email, as before. Again, if you're, if you're being smart about how you're doing your email marketing in a segmenting people's interests before they bought from you, that can then follow on through into their member journey. But you want to make sure you get that and you want to make sure you revisit that as well. So don't obviously don't take for granted that when someone joins your membership, they're a complete beginner. If you're doing your job, they won't stay there, right? So you want to. You want to be checking in with them every three to six months. Have something on your website where they can actually almost change where they are. It might be something in their profile, might be a little pop up question there that appears after a certain amount of time, where they can update basically what their level is where they are on the journey, and then obviously that ensures that you're you're using the most relevant information to personalize that member experience.

Speaker 2:

Are you mentioned about music? I'm sure it's like to know. I signed up, I started learning bass about eight months ago, something like that, and signed up with Scott's bass lessons, which is, yes, you know Scott we built Scott's bass lessons. Oh, really yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, scott is. Scott is, first and foremost, the most sickeningly cool guy you will ever meet. Like his persona online, like that's not an act, he is just. You know, when you hang around with people and you just like, you're just like next level cool right. It's just so chilled, so unassuming, so humble. I love Scott. I love Scott's bass lesson. The story behind that, how we came to work with them, how SBL came to be, is still my favorite client. Next bean of all time. We were very deeply entrenched in that business for the first several years, from concept through to you know, multi, multi, multi million dollar membership, tens of thousands of students and, yeah, it's still is my favorite client of all time. I love Scott.

Speaker 2:

He was a friend of a friend who and I don't know if you know him or not Christopher Sutton, over at Musical U.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, one of our members as well.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

Chris, yeah, Chris was one of our members for a little while. Easy ear training. Did he do that one as well?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So he's a close friend of mine and so he'd put me that way, and so we'd I'd start going through it and it, straight away had beginner learning pathway. And I was like, okay, good, because I have no idea what any of this stuff means. I don't know what to do, and it's just like a series of lessons to go right, start with this. Okay, thank goodness. And that got me through the first few months before it's like okay, now, what do I go? Start working? And I just made everything so much easier just knowing that there was something there to be like right, this is where you're at, this is what to kind of work on next. And they've just they've just relaunched a new version of it. I don't know if you've been involved with that as well, but that's no.

Speaker 1:

So one of the I would say the only downside of when we left the world of client work and agency work when myself and and and Kali ran an agency for about a decade and then see when, all in on on running our membership, about memberships and that kind of took over everything the only downside is that we couldn't continue working with Scott. We stuck around as long as we could and he begged us to stick around longer. But, yeah, that is the only bad point about not working with clients anymore, cause, yeah, we're not involved with that. But we still chat to Scott a lot and anytime I made down the leads I always insist that he buys me steak. I mean, do the guy can afford it? Right, yeah, right.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so backing up a little bit there. So we've got segments of the orientation part of so the onboarding part of what we're doing here. We want to break the site down into many sections, so there might be by different topics or it depends how you're segmenting your audience. Has it beginner, intermediate, advanced? Is it based on a specific topic? Is it for different audiences within your audience, some kind of subneutias within that? And then you break the site down into what people need to do within that section and then you have a warm welcome, big warm in your face welcome message, probably a video from the owner.

Speaker 2:

On the confirmation page. You have an orientation walking people through. You have the tell them what to do, the steps they want to be fitting in their profile, for example, a tour video, that kind of thing. We've got the first five steps checklist at what they need to actually put into place. Supplement all of that with emails so that anybody who doesn't do any of those things is pointed back to it. If you want to get ninja, then if you you'd be able to tell if they've done it or not and only send emails that are relevant to each person. But that's not. That might be too advanced. Check in again a week later, two weeks later, keep going for the first month and segment people based on the questionnaire. So it's kind of a bit more advanced. So they fill in their profile, they've told you what level they're at and they're pointing them then to the right content. You've got different emails two segments minimum, five segments maximum, otherwise it gets unwieldy. Yeah, all right, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Pretty much.

Speaker 2:

All right. So the next section that you mentioned after onboarding was making sure that you're delivering value. So what does that mean? What do people need to do?

Speaker 1:

Really, I think it starts by understanding what is motivating your audience, like what purpose does your membership serve? Like what's the greater need? So I like to talk about there being kind of four main membership motivators in terms of what are people looking for, like, what is the point of you in their world? What purpose do you serve? So people are motivated either by an outcome so there's a change they want there's a result, there's a goal, there's a destination, there's a place they want to get to, a transformation they want to undergo, and you're going to help them do that. You see that in a lot of memberships, a lot of courses as well, I will get you from A to Z and that'll be $2,000. Thank you very much.

Speaker 1:

The second membership motivator is mastery. So it's sort of intertwined a little with outcome, but there's not really a finish point. You can never become or you never complete base playing. There's never a lesson you do or a skill that you learn where you're like. Okay, now I have finished the topic of base. So mastery, a lot of it is the same sort of content, similar types of content, e-learning, course type content, workshops and so on, but it's a never ending journey. It's a lifelong pursuit of mastery. So that would be your second kind of membership motivator. The third would be connection, where actually it's not about learning something, it's not about getting somewhere, just being in a shared space with people who are your crowd right, your tribe, people who are just like you. Those are your more community centered memberships, where the content is almost secondary to that.

Speaker 1:

And the fourth type of motivator is to be a resource, where it's mostly it is just about the stuff. It's templates, it's graphic files, it's fonts. It's kind of impersonal and it's just kind of like you've got a whole bunch of stuff that I want and I'll pay because it saves me the time or saves me having to learn the skills to create it ourselves. So one of our members, this guy called Mark Warner, he's got a membership he's had for over a decade called Teaching Packs. He just creates kind of pre-made bundles of worksheets and learning materials for teachers. So if you're a teacher you can either spend three or four hours tonight designing some fun little activity worksheets or you just go to Mark's website, you pay him 10 quid and he's done the work for you. So that's your resource type motivation, the reasoning, the purpose for why the membership exists, so delivering value really comes down to figuring out which of those four do you fit in.

Speaker 1:

Now there might be a little bit of overlap, but there will be one core membership motivator that drives what you do. And if you figure that out and that understanding comes from understanding your audience, comes from researching their needs, from talking to them directly, from really getting deep into what do they need, what problems do they have, what gaps do they need to have filled. And if you can figure out which of those are your key motivators, that will actually determine where the value proposition is. And then everything you do needs to be in service of that.

Speaker 1:

If you know that people are motivated by reaching an outcome, every piece of content you create should be helping them take one, two, ten, twenty steps on that journey towards that outcome. That should be your core focus. If you know it's about mastery, then that's going to change the way that you approach the content you create and form your value proposition, because it then isn't about getting people to the next step, it's about refinement, it's about enrichment of their skill set and making sure that what you're putting out there is in line with what people are actually driven by. Again, for the community side. It's making sure that your top priority is showing up, it's connecting people, it's organizing events and all these kind of things stem from that understanding of what your purpose is and that should drive everything you do. And that's where that value exchange comes in from showing up and continuing to serve that primary motivator for why someone is in your sight.

Speaker 2:

Beautiful. Okay, so the next one. So we've talked about onboarding, we've talked about delivering value. The next one was community. What's some kind of key tips? If people? So it sounds like one of the things you've got to do is figure out, is community the main reason that people are there? But I suspect, based on what you said, that even if what they're after is achieving an outcome or achieving mastery, then the community part is still really important, maybe less so with the resource side of things, as my guess.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely bang on the resource side. Actually, what you find is quite a lot resource type websites. They'll implement some sort of community and it just will never get off the ground because with those resource driven memberships, resource mobile memberships, that's probably the most. This isn't meant in a in a derogatory way, but it's probably the most self interested member base. You're going to get dispassionate. They're not there because you know they love you and all that. They are there for your stuff right there because you're going to create the things that they want to be good at creating. So yeah, we've had memberships where they've you know, they've had a Facebook group, they've had a community that's just chewing up all their time trying to figure out how to make it work is like they just don't want it, like they just want the resource. But yeah, there's the difference between community as the concept, a place for belonging, you know, a home, a central, you know a sense that you're with your people, and then this community is a feature, like a literal, a forum, facebook group and social media group. So the mode of a of community is very much meant on a on a broader scale. Right, the vast majority of memberships, other than those more resource driven. One should have a community feature Somewhere for your members to come together to talk to each other. If it's pursuit of an outcome, they will talk to each other about their journeys. If it's pursuit of mastery, they will share advice and they will learn from each other and that. So yeah, the community hope, the community features, should be something which all memberships have. Some some memberships it just won't work for, but majority of the do.

Speaker 1:

Personally, I'm not a fan of using a Facebook group for your paid member community. That could be an entire podcast episode on its own. In fact, I've done two or three myself. The big part of the reason is you have no control, meta, control, meta on it. You don't own anything and when your Facebook group for your ping members gets deleted, don't come crying to me, because I've been warning people for eight years not to have their member community on Facebook. So either kind of a one of the newer social community apps like circle or a traditional on site forum, we use something called envision community suite. It is awesome, it's, it's an online discussion forum and it just gives people a place where they can come and they can ask for advice from you, from fellow members, they can get accountability, they can share their progress. And if you are showing up in the community which has membership owners, you should strive to do, because you know, if the people who built the place don't want to pop up in the community, why would Joe blogs average member want to come in the community? And then, yes, through those personal interactions, that extra element, that extra sticky factor will develop.

Speaker 1:

So look at easy ways of getting people involved in the community. Give have a separate section for people to reduce themselves. Don't overlook the power of kind of low hanging fruit discussion topics Like it's a lot easier for someone who's maybe a little more hesitant to get involved in the community. It's a lot easier for them to answer a question about who your favorite Marvel superhero is. That it is for them to dive in with you know their thoughts on the current economic state in the UK and how that's going to affect the future of what, what, what like Low hanging fruit stuff that gets people over that initial hurdle of hitting those keys and pressing enter. That's very valuable as well as the expert, if you are the expert in your community.

Speaker 1:

Resist the temptation to be the know it all. Resist the temptation to answer every single question. If you're a member from up on high comes down and gives an answer For them, that's the definitive answer. If a bunch of your members come in and contribute to that discussion afterwards, who are? They have already got my answer Right.

Speaker 1:

So you need to give discussions room to breathe. You need to have a clever little name for it. That I'm blanking on right now and I'm really annoyed with myself because one of those you know when you think of a name for something and you're like that's really, really smart and it's just gone. But yeah, you just kind of need to strategically delay responding to some discussions just to give room for other members to come in. Connect members together.

Speaker 1:

So, again, if someone asked a question, you know someone came in the wrong membership and kind of said you know what's, what's working now for marketing music memberships, I could go in there and I could give my my answer and for a lot of people that would be like, yeah, perfect, great, done. Oh, I can go in and say I'm going to tag Scott and I'm going to tag Jared and I'm going to tag Warren, because I know they they're doing great things with their membership, so hopefully they'll be along to give you some tips, right? Well, that does. It just opens things up and it turns it into an actual community and not just a place for someone to just access you.

Speaker 1:

So, yeah, I'm kind of, I'm kind of spinning off and talking about like, the minutiae the day to day. But I think that general approach, that generally thus, and that commitment to showing up but also to recognizing your place not just as the definitive voice, not as the owner, but as the steward of that community, the host of that community, that can be a difference between communities that really thrive, where you get that snowball effect when next time when someone posts hey, how do I market my membership? I don't need to go in there and tag other people, because they go there, they're actively visiting and they jump in without waiting for for me. So those kind of things will get that snowball effect where your community really starts to gel without you.

Speaker 2:

Nice, all right, okay, so that's recap. We've got overall membership sites. You really need to give people a reason to stay around, say subscribed. Average time people stick around normally is about nine to 10 months. We want to get the churn rate under 10% and ideally under 5%, somewhere in that kind of range. The things to do to get that great onboarding deliver value, community and have something in place for fail payments.

Speaker 2:

In terms of the onboarding, we're going to have many sections on the website. We have emails with follow up with people to make sure they go through all of those. Have a warm welcome and orientation. First, five steps checklist and then supplement all of that with email as well. Keep following up with them.

Speaker 2:

Segment and based on the questionnaire and have two to five different segments. You have different content for. And then, to deliver value, want to figure out what's motivating them. Is it they want to achieve an outcome, they want mastery, do they want connection or is it about resource? And then, once you figure that out, focus everything around that particular thing.

Speaker 2:

If you're then working around community, which is likely to be the case, especially with an outcome, mastery or connection, then we want to be having some kind of great software for it, not a Facebook group, whatever you do circle, or maybe some on site forum like envision community suite. Show up in the community, have an intro section, have low hanging fruit stuff that people can answer to get engaged. But don't answer every question because then nobody else is going to go in and answer all these questions themselves. And you want to build a community around each other, not just be the all all knowing sense, say who comes in there, amazing, that's fantastic value for everybody. Thank you so much for coming on today and talking about it. If people like that sounds great, but I need a little bit more of this wisdom. Or they want to check out your membership where people go.

Speaker 1:

Yeah well, first off, thanks for having me on the show. It's always a lot of fun to geek out about memberships and, yeah, there's some great questions that allowed me to delve deep and and really get into it. It's been fun for me. If people want to check out our free content and free resources and our podcast, if you head to membership geekscom. If you want the very, very best from us, membership academycom is where it's at. That's on membership, about memberships, we like to keep things quite meta and you can see a lot of the stuff that we've talked about on on this show and a bunch of the other fancy things we do in action there. And that's, I suppose, my final tip as well. If you really want to learn how to know how to nail it with memberships, best ways by joining other memberships.

Speaker 2:

There you go, nice, and that is is not an expensive thing to be joining this. Membership is $65 per month, so totally worth going and checking out. Okay, if the and the other link that you mentioned as well was membership benchmarkcom or benchmarks, membership benchmarkscom.

Speaker 1:

that's where you'll get our online membership in a two report. So we did this last year, so it's right up a date with our 2000 membership owners, and so we're looking at everything from hard data on revenue and churn and stuff like that, through to the particulars of their model, what type of content they create, whether it's an open door or closed door pretty much everything you might want to know about memberships and get some data on in terms of what's working, what trends are. You'll find it in there and there's no like. The mission with that is just to get the data out there, because it's not enough about online membership, so don't even retarget you if you visit that page.

Speaker 2:

Beautiful. So we've got membership geekscom and membership benchmarkscom. If you found this interview useful and you want to get future episodes, please subscribe wherever you listen. Thanks so much, mike, for coming on and thank you so much for listening.

Maximizing Membership Engagement Through Strategic Emails
Optimizing Onboarding and Content Delivery
Segmentation and Orientation in Membership Growth
Building Community, Delivering Membership Value