5 Secrets of Successful Membership Sites
Being the best means taking cues from the best.
When it comes to membership sites, the best include such big shots as Monster.com, classmates.com, YouTube, Netflix and more.
Here are 5 secrets of the big boys and how you can use them to launch your membership site.
- Successful membership sites have a specific niche with a demand for their products and information. Think about classmates.com. What a fantastic niche! Imagine fitting the need of millions of people that want to connect to their old classmates, or are simply curious to see what everybody is up to. What is your niche? Even if it isn’t a niche that will reach millions, the tighter your niche, the more money there is to be made.
- Successful membership sites know the value of maximizing their revenue by offering multiple revenue streams including:
- Affiliate Programs
- Information products
Monster.com is a website that makes fantastic use of their market’s needs by offering relocation services, job counseling, resume and cover letter services, education tools, and even money management tools.
They also make money with advertisers and partner/affiliate programs. Follow the same money making strategies and you’ll be sitting pretty.
- Successful membership sites realize the importance of building your brand and increasing exposure to your site
- Repetitive design elements
YouTube has to be one of the most recognizable membership site logos around.
Whether you see it from a distance on the side of a bus or at the top of a webpage, it’s instantly recognizable because it is simple, clear, and consistent.
Three easy rules to follow when you’re designing your own logo and slogan.
- Successful membership sites are successful at generating traffic via various techniques including:
- Careful choice of keywords
- Press releases
Weight Watchers and Elance are two membership sites that have capitalized on the power of keywords, word of mouth advertising, and valuable content.
Whether you’re searching for recipes, success stories, or even fitness advice, Weight Watchers has content on the subject.
Elance operates a little bit differently, they’ve harnessed the power of the keyword “freelance” to make millions.
Use these strategies to drive traffic to your membership site and success is virtually guaranteed.
- Successful membership sites realize the value of keeping your members happy by offering:
- Product reviews
- Guest interviews
- Content from other sites
- Free products to download
- Regular e-mail contact
- Polls and
Pick any major membership website and take a look at the benefits they provide to their members. Monster offers a full range of services from education to relocation.
Weight Watchers offers recipes, menu planning, and support for people with weight loss goals.
EHarmony offers a bookstore, advice, and even parenting tips that’s really jumping the gun but it works for them.
Give your members what they want and then go the extra step, give them what they don’t know they want – yet.
Harness The Power of Membership Websites
Look through the eyes of your members
Look through the eyes of your members and you might be surprised. You might find new ways to meet their needs. You might find new ways to offer benefit.
Heck, you might even be able to anticipate there needs – there’s no better money maker than that!
What do members want?
The best way to answer that question is to ask yourself. What do you want from a membership site?
Take a moment and write down 10 things that you want from the membership sites that you belong to. Go ahead… we’ll wait.
Okay, you have your list? Let’s see if it matches any of the items that we came up with. Presumably you want:
- A trusted source of information, products, and resources.
- A wide variety of resources that meet your needs with multiple price points
- Easy to use website
- Easy to process transactions
- Membership policies that make sense
- Subscriptions that are worth their price
- Subscriptions that are easy to renew or cancel
- Updated content
- Updated resources
- A way, or many ways, to communicate with members and website staff
- An efficient customer relations protocol
- An easy way to return products
- A website that protects your privacy and doesn’t sell your information
- Communications, via email or newsletter, that are frequent enough to keep you in the loop but not so frequent that you feel
- A website that is fitted specifically to meet your needs
Does that cover it? Not likely. That’s just a short list of the things you probably want from a membership site that you belong to.
You may also want to be able to use the site, products, and contacts that you make to generate profits.
You certainly want to belong to a membership site that you can be proud of and that is recognizable – this means you’ll more likely be a loyal and frequent visitor if not a frequent purchaser.
Now comes the second question…
What can you do to make your membership site meet the needs listed above, and any others that you came up with? Many of the needs are fairly easy to fill.
Customer relations can be automated. Billing, renewals, and auto responder thank you messages can be automated.
Content, much of it anyway, can be outsourced.
Affiliate programs and other wealth building tools can be automated.
That leaves a few things: making sure that your customers know that you’re an upstanding site with their best interests at heart, keeping the quality content, resources, and products up to date and quality, and tying all of their needs together into a cohesive website.
Not too hard, right?
It doesn’t have to be. Use the resources that you have, to make your membership site the absolute best that it can be for you and for your members.
The Secret To Membership Site Success
How To Find A Profitable Membership Marketing Niche
Membership marketing is an extremely profitable business – if you do it right.
Use your membership site to bring in multiple streams of income but only if you target the right market, the market that will be happy to pay for your content, products, and resources.
Here are three steps to ensure you hit your target!
1 – Identify Your Money Making Market
You may already have a market in mind. If you do – fantastic! There are a few steps that you’ll want to take to make sure that it is a market that will make money.
There’s no point in building a membership website if it isn’t going to put cash in your wallet.
So, maybe you have a passion for nutrition and are interested in a membership site that sells information and products related to nutrition.
If this is the case, there are a few things that you will want to do to narrow your niche or create a sub-niche.
The more targeted your niche, the more money you’ll make.
A sub niche doesn’t necessarily mean a highly targeted topic, make it a highly targeted demographic too.
Speak to friends, family, and associates to help brainstorm a possibility of sub niches. Explore forums, chat rooms, and other membership sites on relevant topics.
If you do not have a topic or niche identified then use your resources, this again means family friends and business associates for guidance.
Ask them what topics they’re interested in. Search hobbies, passions, and areas that you are interested in learning more about.
For example, rock climbing may be something that you’ve always aspired to learn. Use this desire to learn to launch a rock climbing membership site.
2 – Determine Demand
To examine whether there is a demand for this information you have a wealth of options.
Check out online bookstores or visit your local bookstore and check out what’s on the bestseller’s list.
These may be topics with an abundance of membership sites already but chances are you will find a profitable sub-niche or specialty market.
Keyword research seems to be where people often go next, keyword research is a valuable tool. Consider repeating the process several times.
The first time keyword research may actually help you determine a sub-niche.
By searching for a general keyword like nutrition, you may find several sub niche possibilities.
However we’re talking about what to do with keyword research once you’ve determined your niche, keyword research to help you identify demand.
For example, you’ve decided to create a membership site for the senior athlete, athletes over 50.
Keyword research will help you learn what topics senior athletes are interested in and which topics receive the most demand.
3 – Dig Deep
It takes more than just a little keyword research to make sure you’re hitting the right target market. Remember if your aim is off, your profits will be too.
Dig deep in forums and chat rooms. Forums and chat rooms are a fantastic way to research your market anonymously.
Behind the scenes research so to speak. When you learn what other people are looking for, then determine if your sub niche is specific enough to provide it, and if there are enough people interested in the type of information and products you’d be offering.
Feeling bold? Register for the forum and ask questions.
Don’t give away the bank, there are many people that would gladly take your idea and run with it but asking questions and taking notes will definitely help you understand your market and their needs.
Dig deep by visiting relevant websites. Once you’re done digging through the forums and chat rooms, take a peek at the websites that are currently available and relevant to your topic.
For example, visit sports nutrition websites and websites for senior athletes. Take a look at the products that they’re selling.
Don’t forget to take a look at the advertisers on their websites too!
Visit the sponsored websites to examine their sites and products and study their marketing strategy and audience.
Dig in the back of magazines related to your topic. There is a magazine on just about every topic under the sun. Grab an issue or two and flip to the back.
Check out the advertisers. Why? It will give you a list of proven products to promote on your membership site.
Magazines are expensive to advertise in, if these companies can afford to pay for an ad, chances are they’re doing well and their products are in demand.
Dig deep in article directories. Visit your favorite article directory, like Ezine Articles and search for information on your niche topic.
This will give you a quick glance on the current demand for information. It will also give you a list of websites already established in your field.
Visit the sites and examine what they’re doing right and wrong and what you can take from them and make better.
Secret Strategies to Get Your Membership Site Noticed Fast
If you want to make money with your membership site, you have to get it noticed. The faster the word gets out, the faster you’ll begin making money.
Here are five strategies to get you noticed faster than a streaker at a soccer game.
Provide Free Information.
This is a superior strategy to get folks to your web site, however you have a fine line to walk. Too much free info and there’s no benefit to joining your site.
Not enough and you don’t give potential members enough of a complimentary preview.
Of course, if you don’t offer quality information then you’ll lose potential members anyway. So make sure that the information you offer is fantastic.
You want your free information to be so good that visitors pass it along to others.
Give folks a peek inside with a free trial membership.
Trial memberships hook readers!
Not only do they instill confidence, once customers get an inside look at all that you have to offer they will want to sign up immediately.
Consider also, making certain items on your website available only to permanent subscribers.’ This type of feature works as a tease. Of course, don’t overdo it.
You want trial members to be able to access a lot of your site.
Viral Marketing Miracles.
Give free reports and even eBooks to affiliates to give away.
This report will include the affiliate’s unique ID and any sales made through that report will be credited to the affiliate.
It’s a great way to get people to spread the word about your membership site.
Remember that if you want to drive traffic to your site, the eBooks and reports that you give away MUST be excellent.
Article Marketing Mania.
Article directories are a wonderful way to drive traffic to your membership site.
They help to establish your credibility and they give potential subscribers a peek inside the offerings at your site.
Also use article marketing to help build a top notch opt-in list. Always include a link back to your website or sales page.
Fabulous Forums, blogs, and chat rooms.
Forums, chat rooms, and blog posts are a good way to get the word out quickly about your membership site.
Most forums, chat rooms, and even blogs will allow you to place a link back to your website in your signature link.
Consider that many of the people you speak to in these venues may not be ready to purchase but they will be a good resource in the future if you collect their information.
Don’t Miss Out – 3 Membership Marketing Profit Plans
Presumably, you have a membership website to make money or your thinking about starting a membership site to make money.
Either way if you’re not taking advantage of these three profit plans, you’re missing out.
Profit Plan #1 – Thriving Affiliate Programs
Affiliate marketing is a great way to make ongoing extra income from your membership site with very little effort.
It’s also important to note that your members do want to learn from you so you’ll want to balance affiliate promotions with your own products too.
You won’t be an expert in every subject and so complimentary products are a great way to increase income; just make sure the products aren’t directly competing with what you have to offer.
Really make affiliate programs work for you:
- Select affiliate programs that are relevant to your niche subject to retain the credibility of your site and entice your members into purchasing the products they need. Find affiliate products which are complimentary to your own, not competitive.
- Pre sell the product to your members. This will make it much more likely that they will buy when they reach the merchant’s site. Write a personal review or interview the product owner.
- We have affiliate links into your content on your site. Simply writing product reviews or blogging about why you like the product from a personal standpoint is often enough for your members to trust your recommendation and want to buy from you.
Profit Plan #2 Advertising Aces
AdSense is a simple way to make money from your free membership site. Every time someone clicks on the Ads you’ll get paid a certain amount per click.
The amount will vary from niche to niche but overtime particularly if you have a large membership base will be very profitable.
- To really make advertising pay on your membership site you must have a very large membership base. Consider having low subscription fees or completely free membership if you plan to make advertising your main revenue stream.
- Make sure your AdSense links really are relevant to your niche topic and add valuable content to your site to retain credibility with your members. For more control, select default advertisements to use instead.
Profit Plan #3 Selling Superior Information
Want a great, and inexpensive way to increase membership site revenue and value? Sell information products.
eBooks, reports, online classes, workshops, tutorials, audio files, videos, and even software can be created for a relatively low cost and sold for a tremendous profit.
The great thing about many of these products is that they are instantly downloadable by your members.
This means that they get instant gratification and you don’t have to deal with the cost of production.
Once your product is complete, it’s ready to go and can be distributed an unlimited number of times.
Make maximum revenue!
- Superior products result in superior profits. Make your e-book superior with a high level of research, writing , and graphics and illustrations.
- Promote early. Promote the e-book on your site and in your members’ forum. Put extracts from the book onto your site to get members excited about reading more.
- Offer incentives. Use your e-book as an incentive to subscribe to your site. If you give your e-book to members for free when they sign up consider offering them the book in installments or chapters to integrate them into your community.
- Weave affiliate links into your information products to ensure that they carry on producing revenue for you even after they have been sold.
3 More Ways to Make Mega Money With Your Membership Site
Previously we talked about selling information products. In this article we’re going to take it a step further.
Superior serialized information products are an excellent source of revenue because they can be released in installments, which generate interest in your membership site and products over an extended period of time. (it also gives you multiple opportunities to contact the media and send announcements to your list)
Possibly even better is the fact that serialized products sell for more money.
Courses, tutorials, and even books work wonderfully as serial products. Audio interviews and training videos work well too.
If you already offer information products on your site, consider breaking one of them into several small parts and selling them as reports.
This gives members the option to purchase just one report at a time or they may be enticed into buying the whole package, and if a member chooses to buy just one report and is happy with it, there is a good chance they will buy several more, making you a reasonable amount of income.
Selling Profitable PLR Content. Any membership site, no matter what your topic, can offer PLR content and make great money.
When you sell PLR content, you’re selling content about a particular topic for people to use for their own purposes.
The PLR content is sold to a number of people so it’s not exclusive content.
Having a regular number of articles or information products to sell to an exclusive group of members of your site will provide you with another income stream.
Consider having an upgraded’ membership that includes access to this PLR material, only open to an exclusive number of members.
Making Your Product Sales Skyrocket – Your most profitable market will always be customers who have already bought from you.
This means it will be easier to concentrate on making money from back-end sales rather than trying to get new customers.
The principle of back-end sales is that when a member buys one product from you, you tailor your marketing specifically for them to encourage them to buy something else, usually of higher value.
Do you want fries with that? Upselling is a straightforward concept. Use it to increase the revenue you produce from individual product sales on your membership site.
When a member buys one product, you simply offer them additional products to complement it, possibly at a reduced cost.
Cross selling is a process where you refer a customer to a relevant product on another website after they have bought one on your membership site.
The other person in turn will do the same for you. Direct the person to another product or membership site offer owned by you.
Managing Membership Fees for Maximum Results
How you set up your site has a tremendous amount on the money that you will make. Free membership sites do very well with AdSense revenue and product revenue.
However fee based sites stand to make money in a variety of ways. Here are your subscription options and how to make the most of them:
Standard Monthly Subscriptions are the normal course of action for a membership site.
They work well for a well maintained website where the content is always fresh and you’re always providing value. (If it isn’t, members won’t renew.)
The standard monthly membership site looks like this:
- Members have access to a large amount of quality information about your niche subject, whether that is in the form of interviews, audio course or articles.
- Members are able to access to a forum where they discuss aspects of your niche subject, ask advice, and network with people who are also interested in that niche subject.
- Members have access to some free downloadable products such as e-books, seminars and audio files.
Upgraded subscriptions, like silver, gold, and platinum, are a profitable alternative to the standard monthly subscription model.
It is one way of initially wetting the appetites of your members and to get them involved in the site so that they spend more money in the future.
Don’t forget to lure your subscribers into upgrading their membership by offering benefits and making upgrades available often.
A one-time fee joining fee model works well if you plan on continually offering content, valued added resources, and multiple streams of revenue.
You may also charge a one-time fee to join as well as a monthly subscription. This model creates an impression of esteem and a high level of credibility.
Additionally, it will only attract members that are truly interested in your site.
How much will you charge?
First and foremost, don’t be afraid to charge subscribers what you’re worth even if you consider it to be fairly high.
People know that they have to pay for quality and they’re willing to do it. Additionally, you know that your members are serious about belonging to your website.
Make your site worth the money. If you charge a high monthly subscription, make sure that you continually offer high quality products.
One low quality product will cost you a member and years and years of profits.
If you’re offering a one time subscription, say of $1000, then you want to make sure that you have multiple streams of income in place so that you continue to make money.
Building Your Brand – 5 Keys to Membership Site Recognition
Imagine how fantastic it would be to have people all around the see your logo and instantly recall your business.
We’re talking immediate and permanent brand recognition. Here are three keys to get you where you want to be.
Key #1 – Your Logo
Think about YouTube and Monster.com. Both of those websites have a tremendous presence on the internet and both have an outstanding logo.
You see it anywhere, on a pen or the side of a bus and you instantly recognize the company.
Think of the benefit your website would receive with such a powerful tool.
A memorable, eye catching logo will do more to promote your brand than pages and pages of sales copy. Here’s what to do to make yours stand out.
- Simple shapes and strong colors work best in logo design.
- Choose something that is significant and individual for your site. You are unlikely to create the perfect logo using clipart.
- You don’t want your logo to look too much like someone else’s or you may face legal action for trademark violation.
- Check that any symbols you use in your logo aren’t going to be seen as offensive by other cultures. The internet is a worldwide market and you don’t want to upset your potential customers.
- Incorporate a slogan or statement. Place your USP right in front of them, where it won’t be ignored.
- Don’t forget to use your logo everywhere.
Key #2 – Find a style and stick to it.
Repetitive design elements are crucial to building your brand.
This means if your logo and website are orange and blue, your newsletter will repeat those elements, your information products will repeat those elements.
This holds true for fonts, shapes, colors, everything that goes into the look and feel of your website.
Key #3 – Newsletters.
Brand awareness is about communication. Newsletters are an excellent way to connect with your audience, and beyond, on a regular basis.
Remember to continue your design throughout your newsletter and make sure that the content rocks so people will forward it and thus increase your readership and subscription list.
Key #4 – Articles.
Downloadable articles will be shared. Published articles demonstrate a higher level of credibility and reach a broader audience. Free article websites draw traffic.
There’s no two ways about it, articles are an outstanding marketing and branding tool. Define your look, define your voice and you’ll define and brand your business.
Key #5 – Your everlasting About Us’ section.
Who is on your team, enquiring minds want to know.
It’s true, people like to know a little bit about who they’re dealing with and your about us page is the best way to tell them.
Not only that, it helps to establish your brand by giving folks an inside look.
Information like credentials, personal interests, passions, and anything relevant to the site help to establish your business.
Attracting Affiliates And Helping Them Sell Your Site
If You Build it… They Will Come?
No doubt about it, how you promote your affiliate program and who you get to sell your site is the key to your program’s success.
So who makes a good affiliate marketer? Who do you want selling your website?
There is no one better than your own members. Who knows your website better? Who knows the ins and outs and the total benefit of membership?
Okay, so your own members are a great place to start but who else?
- Business owners with related but not competitive businesses.
- Join affiliate marketing or related
- Promote your membership and affiliate program through article
- Seek joint venture partners and contact them
- Get current affiliates to recruit new ones by offering a two tier affiliate recruitment
Here’s what to expect from a great affiliate partner:
Affiliate marketing partners use affiliate programs to make additional revenue from their websites, and each site will likely feature a number of affiliate programs.
They use the basic tools you provide for them, but may not put a lot of work into promoting your product.
Super affiliates build a website around your affiliate program and really promote your product.
They use all the marketing material you provide them to pre-sell your membership site to their customers before they follow the link to your site.
They may even have a customer list to promote your product to.
Using this type of affiliate results in more sales, but may also require paying them a higher commission.
JV partners provide targeted marketing to their own customer list.
You may work with your JV partner to come up with specific offers that will appeal to their particular audience.
This customized marketing results in a higher conversion rate often requiring a higher commission.
What tools do you need to provide for your affiliates to succeed beyond your wildest dreams?
A link back to your site and some form of advertising such as banner or side bar.
Detailed information about your product, including selling points, what makes it different from other products, and its value.
Ad copy, free reprint articles, email promos, free brandable reports (which affiliates will brand with their own link), and even a free eBook.
The more tools you give your affiliates the better. Stay in touch with your affiliates and give them tips on how they can improve their sales conversions.
How to keep your affiliates selling and selling and selling…
Let’s face it, interest wanes.
The initial enthusiasm an affiliate may feel about promoting your product is likely to decline as they find new affiliate programs to join and new exciting products to sell.
They may not want to keep on repetitively pushing your membership site to their customers and so their sales performance will inevitably drop.
One way to keep your affiliates selling is to regularly send them new material.
Different advertisements, articles to reprint, and new graphics will all add valuable content to an affiliate’s website, or give them a reason to promote your product again in their newsletters.
Another way to motivate your affiliates is to:
- Run contests.
- Pay them well.
- Provide them with an abundance of marketing and promotional material.
- Get them involved in the community.
Perfect Partners Equal Profound Profits
How to find the perfect JV partner
When you establish your membership site, it is possible to do absolutely everything yourself. It is possible to design the site, produce all of the content, articles and products for sale, and spend a long time putting together a mailing list of prospective members to try to sell the site to.
Why would you want to do that?
Team up with joint venture partners and establish a mutually beneficial relationship, (and start making a profit form your project in less time than you ever thought possible.)
What sort of people make great JV partners?
Anybody involved in the internet marketing industry or your specific niche can be a joint venture partner.
One of the most common joint ventures occurs when one partner has a new product to sell and another partner has an existing mailing list to promote that product to.
Although this is the most common setup, joint ventures can be arranged between any of the following partners:
- Membership sites
- Customer mailing list owners
- AdSense marketers
- Subject matter experts
So how do you find good JV partners?
Step 1 – Decide what you need from your joint venture partner. What expertise or resources do they need to posses to contribute to your project?
If you are looking for someone to promote your membership site it may be tempting to approach the internet marketers that own the largest mailing lists.
However, it may be more productive to look for individuals that are experts in your niche subject, whose customer lists will be more targeted to your project even if they are not as extensive.
Step 2 – Networking is the key to finding a great joint venture partnership.
If you identify someone you would like to partner with, be careful about how you approach them.
If you think they would make a good JV partner, the chances are many other internet marketers will have the same idea and they will get asked on a regular basis.
The following tips may help you when contacting your prospective JV partner:
- Find out everything about what they do beforehand. Read any reports or e-books they have written.
- If they have a membership site, sign up for it and get to know their subscribers. Is the project you want to involve this person in, or the product you want to sell really appropriate for their customers?
- Marketing Seminars offer a multitude of networking possibilities. Many great joint ventures have been conceived over a drink in the hotel bar, or over dinner at one of these seminars.
Step 3 – Contacting a potential partner with your proposal.
- Try to get hold of their telephone number if possible rather than sending an e-mail.
- If you must send an e-mail, make it a personal one and not a standard request, or the chances are they will simply delete it.
- You need to try to build a relationship with this person. If they are going to enter a project with you, and potentially promote your product to their customers, they will want to know something about you and the way you work.
- Don’t give them a sales pitch. A more straightforward approach will be appreciated.
- Don’t assume they are only interested in the amount of money they can make from your project. They may be more concerned about the quality of your membership site and their credibility with their existing customer list.
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