The Membership Guys

5 Steps to Making 2018 Your Most Successful Membership Year

The new year is upon us and for most membership site owners this is likely to be a time where you are looking ahead to what you want to achieve this year.

And I’m willing to bet good money that growing and improving your membership is one of your aims. Or at least it should be!

So with that in mind we thought we’d take a look at the 5 steps that you can take today to plan your out the next 12 months of your membership and ensure that you achieve your goals in 2018.

1. Review Your Year

You can’t properly plan for the new year until you’ve taken a good look at the previous one.

There’s no point expending time and energy on tactics and strategies that actually haven’t done much for your membership so far.

You want to make sure that you’re focusing on the activities that have really helped to drive member acquisition and retention.

So, take a look back at the different marketing activities you did last year; changes you’ve made; new features you implemented in your membership and on on.

What worked? What didn’t? What feedback did you get? What do you want to change?

Removing the things that don’t serve either you or your members, will help free up resources for even better things.

You need to take an honest look at all of the stats for your membership here too:

  • Did you see consistent growth? What was your average growth rate per month?
  • What was your churn rate?
  • Were there any peaks or troughs? If so, can you attribute them to anything in particular (marketing activity, time of year etc)
  • What was your member lifetime value?
  • And how does this compare to your costs of acquiring and keeping a member?

It’s a lot to go through, but that’s the point.

You want to make sure that you’re clear on exactly how your year went and the areas that you may want to improve.

And if you haven’t actually been keeping stats or records, then that’s the first thing for you to implement in 2018!

2. Decide on Your Goals and Milestones

Now that you’ve got a good picture of how your membership actually performed in 2017, you can set some goals for the year ahead.

Knowing what you’re starting with here is important to ensure your goals are achievable – if you only gained 20 members in the last 12 months, for example, then a goal of 1000 in the next 12 may be unrealistic without a MAJOR changes being made!

When it comes to your membership site then set yourself both a member goal and an income goal.

Then make sure the two actually are compatible!

This may sound obvious, but all to often you might think ‘I want 1000 members by 2019 and a $500k annual run rate’.

That sounds great, doesn’t it?

But if your only charging $30 a month for your membership, then where is the additional $200k going to come from to help you achieve your financial goal?

Make sure you know how many members are needed to achieve your desired income, and also ensure that number is realistic.

Once you know how many members you need, then look at how many people this means you need to bring into your audience.

If you have a 10% lead to sale conversion rate for example, and want 100 new members, then you’ll need 1000 leads to do so.

Obviously your goals don’t have to just be based on member numbers or solely financial, but these are the most common for the majority of membership site owners and give you something to strive for (and you want something to strive for, to avoid becoming complacent!)

Once you know your end goals for the year, it’s time to break them down into milestones so that you can know throughout the year whether or not you’re on track and what changes you may need to make if not (or even whether you need to increase your goals!)

So, if you want 500 members in 2018, how many members do you need to bring in each month for example? Don’t forget to account for churn!

3. Plan Your Content

You know where you’ve been and you know where you want to go, so now is the time to start thinking about how you’re going to get there.

Your content is a key step in this plan and something you should spend some time working out in advance, rather than deciding on the fly.

This is especially important for your membership content, because above all else you want to ensure that your members are well taken care of and that you’re delivering quality and value to them every month.

Planning in advance makes this much easier.

So, create a spreadsheet or use your project management system and start thinking about your membership content for the year (or for 3 months, if a year seems a little too much!). 

  • What are the core content types that you need to deliver to your members each month?
  • What topics will you cover for each of these pieces of content?
  • What dates will each of these pieces of content be released to members?

Once you know what membership content you will be creating, you can start to plan your free content as well.

If February is Facebook month in your membership site, make at least some of your free content that month related to this topic too.

Using your membership content as a guide for what topics to cover in your blog, podcast and videos not only saves you time but it also gives you natural promotion opportunities for your membership!

And while you may make some adjustments as the year goes on, it’s amazing what a difference having a solid content plan in place makes to your productivity (and stress levels!).

4. Decide on Regular Promotions

It may be that you open and close your membership site at set intervals, in which case you likely already know when you plan to launch your membership site throughout the year.

If not though, then now is the time to put those launch dates in the diary. And you may also want to plan some behind the scenes promotions as well.

If your membership site is evergreen though and always open (like Member Site Academy) then it’s a good idea to plan some different promotional activity throughout the year to help ensure you’re getting a good stream of new members each month.

Now, don’t worry! This doesn’t need to require the same effort and resources as a launch, and with pre-planning most of these promotions can run on autopilot.

We recommend running one major promotion a quarter and one minor promotion per month.

The main difference here is the length and level of effort and visibility involved.

So running an online summit would be a major promotion for example, whereas a webinar would be a minor promotion.

It’s important to note that your promotions don’t need to be discounts, in fact we recommend keeping these kind of promotions to an absolute minimum.

Instead look at using a mix of the 5 core promotion types:

  • Offer – e.g. discount, trial, price increase, special bonus
  • Content – e.g. challenge, webinar
  • Event – e.g. virtual summit, bootcamp, launch
  • Theme – e.g. seasonal, content topic
  • Buzz builder – e.g. giveaway, competition

Mixing up your promotions also gives you a great testing ground to see what really resonates for your audience and works best to drive new signups, so that you can then do more of what works in the future!

5. Map Out Your Marketing Tasks

One of the keys to success with your day-to-day membership marketing is to ensure that you’re actually… well… marketing your membership site every day!

It sounds simple, but all too often we see people actually forget to let their audience know that their membership exists.

Sure, you mentioned it on that tweet 6 weeks ago, but only a fraction of your audience will have seen that and you’ll have new audience members since then too.

While you don’t want to be ‘buy my stuff’-ing all over the internet, you do want to ensure that you have things in place so that anyone visiting your website and your social channels actually knows your membership site exists, and even better yet, wants to find out more.

We call this your DWM marketing – and you can listen to a full podcast episode on this here.

Essentially you want to ensure you have things in place every day, week and month that work to:

  • Build your authority
  • Create social proof
  • Promote your membership

And the great news is that this can mostly be done on autopilot once you have your key tasks decided! So even when you’re busy with other things, you can be safe in the knowledge that your membership is not being forgotten.

So, there you have it. Implementing these steps now will help to make your membership site as successful as possible in 2018.

Not only will you attract more members, but you’ll find it much easier to manage your membership, and you’ll have more time to focus on keeping your existing members happy too. So it’s a win all around!

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