July 20, 2021
Increasing Engagement for Membership Sites

Maybe you’ve created your membership site already. Maybe you’re thinking about starting one. Once you’ve got one up and running — then what?

Building a great site might seem like the biggest hurdle but after you get past that barrier, how do you get your base to keep coming back? In this article I’m going to provide several strategies that increase member engagement for membership sites.

Onboarding Strategies for Member Engagement

1. Modify Your Registration to Deliver Immediate Value

When you’re building your membership registration, the normal approach is going to collect a limited amount of information and then register members.

You collect their money, create their account, and they get access to protected content.

But that’s not enough.

If you want to surprise and delight your members, you’re going to want to ask them a couple more questions. You’re going to want to understand a little bit more about who they are and then immediately deliver additional value to them.

What kind of value am I talking about?

Let’s imagine that you’ve segmented your membership in three or four different personas that sign up for your membership site. That also means you’ll know the four kinds of problems or challenges that they’re facing.

Your job during registration is to have them self-identify. By getting that information upon creating that user account, you can also immediately send them a targeted download or PDF, something that immediately mitigates that known and major issue.

When a customer feels surprised and delighted, they’re confident that they’ve made the right call and chosen the right community. And that drives engagement.

2. Build Onboarding That Drives Connection

The second strategy is similar in that your onboarding has to be brilliant. Again, it will require that you collect a little bit more information during registration so that you better understand who signed up. Then you tailor that onboarding to them.

This means you might end up with three or four different onboarding email sequences (based on how you’ve tagged that member) that you can choose from when sending your initial sequences.

One part of onboarding is where people connect. Could be Slack, Facebook Groups, Discord, or some other community solution. And in each of those, you’ll have several groups or channels that are driven by objectives, characteristics, or even the location of your members.

Your job during onboarding is to figure out, based on what you know about your new member, where to put them. If you know they’re on the West Coast, put them in that channel. If you know their interests, and have a channel for it, put them in there.

The point is that you should place them or introduce them to their community as part of your onboarding. It will certainly help with member engagement.

3. Create More than a Membership Directory

For the third idea, I’m going to wrap up this idea that your registration is so critical. Here’s one more way to leverage your enhanced registration.

First, know this: you have to choose and decide what information you’re collecting and what you’re going to show to others.

You can immediately foster member engagement with a membership directory — more specifically, one that’s not boring.

When you create a membership directory, you should do more than just present the names and the titles and the companies they come from (and maybe their emails). You should do more than that.

You should highlight their experience or expertise. This comes from collecting that information when they’re registering.

I was once part of a membership site that put information like companies we had worked for, our current role, how many years we’d been in that role, and more into a directory. That became really helpful so that others knew when they should (or shouldn’t) hit me up for advice.

In the last strategy we talked about helping people find their “tribe” in your membership. But sometimes people want to find and connect with people that aren’t like them. That’s where a great directory comes in.

Interaction Strategies for Member Engagement

4. Leverage Your Community in Your Content

Now the fourth idea takes us in a different direction. Can we agree that everyone wants more leads, more traffic, and more business?

If that’s the case, this strategy will do two things at once — help you create content for your site, and put a spotlight on your members that will drive them more traffic (and potentially leads).

It’s the strategy to co-create content together with your members. You do this by asking a question and giving members an area where they can respond. Put out a form. Let anyone who wants to fill it out. Then you use that as part of your digital content strategy.

If you ask, “Has anyone hired more than 25 people in a single month?” and give them the space to tell their story and tips (via a form), you are getting great material for a post.

You’re also going to be able to publish something with a quote from them or their story in it. Backlinks will be great, and your members will love it. They’ll share it with their friends and associates.

As a result, you might even grow your membership. But the best part is that when other members see the benefits, they’ll be looking to get more engaged. That’s the main point of the strategy to begin with.

5. Invite Members to Connect Live Once a Week

The fifth strategy is one of my favorites.

Just because you build a membership site doesn’t mean you can’t create another place for people to gather. One of the communities that I’ve been helping to build has a weekly Zoom call. The fifty folks or so meet every week and talk about what went great in any given week, along with what was a struggle.

This is one of the most compelling parts of this community. They feel connected and cared for. They get advice from each other and they don’t feel so alone.

So if you can create something like that, you will foster and build more community, which will drive greater engagement inside your membership site.

6. Hold Virtual Events for Your Membership

For number six, I want to shift from Zoom to a different strategy — and that’s to hold virtual events.

I have worked with a membership site for years that used to have physical events. But when COVID hit, they had to shift to virtual events. They used to be called New York Wine Events. They now have a new name: Crush Wine XP.

That’s because they shifted from doing physical events only in New York, and now they do them anywhere, virtually. I’m talking about virtual wine tasting. Think about that for a second.

You sign up because there’s a limited number of spots. You get access to the Zoom call where other people are going to do this virtually, too. There’s going to be a sommelier or someone who’s going to take you on a tour of one of the vineyards that they’re at. But you also get to order the samples in advance and have them delivered to you.

So people are in their home and they’re able to participate in this virtual event while learning more about the wines — and they actually get to taste the wines.

So hold a virtual event.

And if you’re wondering how to pull this off, check out Events Calendar Pro’s extension for Virtual Events. It’s fantastic.

Strategies To Add Value for Members

7. Provide Early Access and Discounts

Idea number seven is to provide early access to buying something. Let’s say that you have created a report and this report is super valuable to your membership, but also to the outside world. So you say,

“Hey, I’m going to put it on sale on Friday to the outside world. But on Tuesday, I’m going to make it available to members. And in fact, I’m going to also immediately add a discount so that members pay way less and get access to it earlier.”

I’ll tell you, sometimes in the right setting, simply giving people early access is all you need to keep them highly engaged.

8. Gamify Your Giveaways

Here’s number eight: giveaways. You can gamify all of the interaction and interactivity for a giveaway.

There are tools out there that will help you do giveaways the gamified way. They require that participants take actions to earn “tickets” or a chance to win.

You can drive any kind of engagement that you want — tweets on social, signing up for newsletters, sharing content, and more.

Each time a member takes one of these actions, they get an extra ticket into the raffle. And at the end of the month, you’ve not only driven engagement, but you get to give away a cool prize.

9. Create Courses for Members

The last strategy is all about education. Your members may want or need specific help solving specific challenges. Use that to create online courses or even mini-courses. These don’t have to be huge.

But the nature of adding a set of courses automatically will drive higher engagement by those who are constantly logging in, watching content, and marking it complete.

Additionally, members will love it because they feel like they’re getting more than anyone else anywhere else. In other places, you have to pay for courses. But in your membership, you’re making them available for free.

Launch Your Membership Site With Nexcess

The key to member engagement is about value and making sure that you’re delivering value consistently and constantly.

So there you go — 9 different ways to drive member engagement. And they’re not mutually exclusive. You can combine several of these strategies to really help your membership site take off.

Get started with a membership site of your own through Nexcess Managed WordPress.

And you can go live in minutes. It’s the only solution on the market to match premium software with premium hosting specifically tailored to WordPress.

Chris Lema
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