How to Start Building an Audience for Your Membership Site
Building an audience is essential to the success of your membership.
After all if you have no audience to speak of, then who are you going to sell to? Where are your members going to come from?
“Build it and they will come” is, unfortunately, a myth.
You need to invest time in growing your own audience in terms of your email subscribers, website visits, podcast listeners, social followers and – of course – paying members.
But where do you start? How do you actually find your audience?
Analyze your existing audience
The best place to start with finding your audience is to look at what you already have!
Dive into your email list and social media followers – what kind of following do you have already?
You need to look at who you already have connected to you, your brand, and your content and analyze whether those people are relevant for what you’re going to be doing with your membership.
You may think you have an audience that’s started to take shape, but maybe they’re from a different project and you haven’t spoken to them in a while.
Don’t take it for granted that your existing audience will have an interest in what you’re doing with your membership.
If it’s the case that some of your existing audience will be interested and some won’t, there are things you can do to separate them out.
Send out an email to everyone explaining your new project and ask them if they want to come along for the journey.
Give them the option to follow you on this journey and form the foundations of your new audience.
You could even offer a little added extra – a discount or early access – to encourage them.
Once you have segmented the interested subscribers, you can add them to a different list.
However you do it, the best place to start is with a good review of your existing audience.
Dig into the depths of the internet
Passionate people find each other and congregate in communities online.
These are exactly the type of places you want to research and immerse yourself in to get an understanding of your audience and build a product that works for them.
You need to find pockets of passionate people.
What should you look for? Any kind of digital community that is based around your topic, including:
- Discussion boards
- Facebook and LinkedIn groups (read more on them here)
- Twitter hashtags
- Influencers in your market (look at the what they share, the people who engage with them, and whether they’re on any Twitter lists)
- com (for offline gathering based on your area of interest)
- Use tools like Buzz Sumo to keyword search, find how many blogs are covering your content, and how popular they are. If you can identify the most popular blogs, spend some time in the comments sections and see if the same names and problems crop up regularly
This long and wide-ranging search for digital communities is all in service of verifying that there are enough people out there with an interest in the topic for you to create your own community.
How to use this information
A lot of your initial audience building efforts are going to centre around finding where your tribe are and simply hanging out with them.
Making sure you are in the same circles and communities as the people that you want to serve is essential if you want a committed, trusting audience.
Spend time with them, observe how they interact, see the questions they ask, take notice of the problems they’re having.
Pay special attention to the regular occurrences – whether that’s wins, problems, questions, or anything else that crops up consistently.
These most common topics will act as perfect research for defining and adapting your membership.
Not only will doing this inform your membership content, it will also help you perfect the free content that will make up your content marketing strategy, help you get your sales copy just right, and generally improve your tone of voice to suit your audience.
What if you can’t find anyone?
If you’re convinced after doing all this digging and investigating that your audience isn’t out there, then the harsh truth is that you may be barking up the wrong tree.
If your searches aren’t turning up these already-existing communities, what are essentially pockets of potential members, then it may well be that you’re working hard to create something that very few people want.
Either the audience you want to serve doesn’t exist or they’re just not passionate enough to join online communities.
And if they aren’t passionate enough to join these free communities, what are the odds that they’re going to want to join your paid one?
If you remain convinced that they’re out there but you can’t find them, that’s still an issue.
You need to know who your audience are and how to reach them if you want to successfully market to them.
If you can’t find them in the first place, you won’t be able to market to them!
Take a look at our 4 Ways to Discover What Your Audience REALLY Want from your Membership if you want to learn more about how to adjust and adapt your membership site so it becomes irresistible to your newfound audience.