Important: Want the top tips on getting your online business off the ground? Then 'like' our Facebook page (link opens in new window) for all the latest tips and advice. Come and say hi. 🙂
This lesson is continued from Lesson 3 Part 1: Membership Pricing Models And Which Membership Software You Should Use.
Using Affiliates To Gain More Members
While we will be giving your plenty of tactics you can use to drive traffic to your membership sites thought this course, there is another really important thing you should be trying to do: Getting affiliates.
While I’m sure most of you know this, affiliates are people who promote your product for you, and receive a percentage of any sales they send your way. The main benefit of having affiliates on board is the new reach you’ll get.
If you’re promoting your product all by yourself, you may get a load of sales, and you may make good money from it. But if you’re making good sales and then you’re got a load of affiliates also making good sales using their traffic that they’ve built up over the years, how much more money do you think you’re going to make? Tenfold of what you would have made yourself right?
Affiliates are especially useful if you haven’t got a big list of your own, or don’t particularly want to pay for traffic. If you can get a few big to medium sized affiliates on board, you can still make a lot of money from your membership sites.
As the money you’ll be making from members will be recurring, your membership site will instantly be an appealing prospect for people to promote. If you also give them recurring commissions for each month the member stays signed up, they’ll likely push your course a lot harder and try to encourage the people they referred to stay signed up. This can only be a good thing for you.
In order to gain affiliates and set them up with a link to promote your product, you will need to set up or join an affiliate program. While it’s possible to set up your own affiliate program using Digital Access Pass or other software, one of the best places to host your affiliate program is via Clickbank. E-Junkie is also a good option if you don’t want to join Clickbank for whatever reason. But Clickbank should probably be first choice, simply because they have a ton of affiliates already signed up with them that regularly browse the affiliate market place for new products to promote. That, plus they pay your affiliates automatically when the time is right, so you don’t have to worry about dealing with that side of things. With E-Junkie, you have to pay affiliates manually.
People are generally used to using Clickbank, so you won’t have to worry about convincing as many to sign up to a new affiliate program just to promote your product.
While it’s not essential to join Clickbank to get good affiliate sales going, it can really give you a good head start. I wouldn’t personally recommend using the DAP affiliate system, simply because both Clickbank and E-Junkie are better. If you want a free option though, you could always use it. Clickbank costs $49.99 to set your first product up on there (But make say two sales and you’ve made that money back already) and E-Junkie starts from $5 a month recurring to sell your product. Both prices are correct at the time of writing this, but check their sites for the latest.
I’ll be talking a lot more about affiliates and some tactics to finding them in lesson 12, as by that time hopefully you’ll have some type of product to put out. Until then, let’s move on.
Testing Everything Is Running Smoothly
Once you have your membership site created but before it’s launched, you need to do one very important thing: You need to test your process, and make sure that everything runs smoothly.
No matter whether it’s your first time setting up a membership site or your third, there is a chance that you have done something wrong. Or that something isn’t working the way you expect it to. Maybe the payment page isn’t showing up when it’s supposed to, or the emails that are forwarded to your customers show your personal details when you didn’t want them to. Maybe your content isn’t getting protected properly, or maybe your content isn’t getting delivered at all.
There are a whole number of things that can go wrong when putting your site together. They’re usually small things that can be easily changed by changing a couple of settings, but it will make a big difference to the user experience if things don’t work how they’re supposed to. Which is why it’s important to thoroughly test your system before hand.
You can do this by sign up as a new member to your course, initially lowering the price so you’re not losing much in terms of fees. It’s still a good idea to make it a paid sign up though, so you can see exactly what the customer will see at each stage of things. Just instead of making things $29.99 for a month, make them $1.
Note: Many payment processors allow you to do ‘test purchases’ anyway, which means you can test your sales process without spending any money. I still recommend you do at least one paid purchase after the test ones just to be sure, but this is optional.
Once you go through the purchase funnel once, make a note of anything that shouldn’t be there. Are email addresses showing where they shouldn’t be? Did you get all the confirmation emails and was the process clear for your customers?
If not, you will need to go back and rectify any identified problems. Once you have done that, make another test purchase to see if everything is now in order. Hopefully it will be, but you may find the settings you have changed now lead to another issue, or you didn’t change things in the way you thought you had.
Rinse and repeat this testing process until you’re sure that your system runs smoothly.
Please don’t underestimate the importance of testing your sales and payment funnels, the last thing you want is to identify an issue when loads of people are trying to sign up but can’t. Not only will this mean more time dealing with customer support, but most likely a percentage of those people won’t come back after their first bad experience with your site.
How To Successfully Launch Your Membership Site
Ok. Chances are, you haven’t yet quite got your membership site up and running. Despite that, I want to share with your some tactics you can use to launch your site when you are ready to do so. Some have a look now if you want, but make sure you come back to this part when your membership site is all set up and you’re ready to unleash it onto the world!
Essentially, in order to get a good number of people filling up your membership site, you need to get targeted prospects in front of your offer. Now while it’s not essential, ideally you’d want to already have an audience you can launch to. If not however, if you can get a decent number of affiliates on board, this should hopefully bring you in enough members during the launch period.
You can use the strategies we list in this course to drive traffic to your website, but it’ll be a lot easier to make sales if you build a blog around your membership site and build up a community before hand. So if you haven’t launched your membership site yet and still have a way to go before you do, consider building up a blog and community alongside that. As well as being able to build up a list through that blog, you can also turn yourself into the authority, so people are more likely to listen to your membership recommendation later on.
Ok, so here are some things you can do to maximize your membership launch.
- Drop Hints To Existing Community Members.
If you have an existing blog or website, then dropping hints to them about an upcoming product or service that will benefit them is the first thing you should do. You shouldn’t be too revealing here, just let them know it’s something that will benefit them and they’re sure to be excited about.
You can mention this in posts alongside other articles, in your emails, and anywhere else your community hangs out. Be sure not to make this the main point of your communications however, instead simply adding it in as a P.S. This’ll peak people’s interest, and get them thinking about what surprise you have in store.
You should also send an email or two before your final launch day, reminding anyone on your list that the tool that can help them is going to be launched. In these emails you can give them more details, and give them a final launch date.
- Do A Testing Period For Valued And Influential Community Members.
If you’re still not sure how good your course is and want feedback on things you could improve on, you could always do a testing period for your product. This is where you allow a select few community members to join your course on a trial basis, and give them a sample of a few of the products. They will have to agree to give honest feedback, and use all parts of your system to make sure it all runs smoothly. If not, they will let you know so you can fix it.
Not only do you get to get a lot of honest feedback at this stage (Which can help you change things and deliver a better membership), but you will also be getting these testers excited for the final launch. By giving them exclusive access before anyone else, you’re also making them feel special and strengthening the bond you have with them. Due to this, they’re more likely to spread the word about your product when the time comes as well as buy.
Don’t give too many people the privilege of getting access to your product within the testing stages, around 10 or so people should do just fine.
- Do A Pre-Launch.
Once again, this is mainly if you already have a community based around your site, or you’re willing to pay authoritative figures in your industry to mail out their list. Doing a launch only to your community is a good way to get your initial set of customers. This will ensure you make the maximum amount of money you can from them (In the nicest way possible) before you start sharing money with affiliates. It’ll also show you’re loyal to your community giving them the opportunity first, and increase the likelihood they’ll want to stay part of your circle.
Encourage people who do join to spread the word about your course, and even become an affiliate so they can get paid for their efforts.
You could launch to your community one week, then the next week go onto the next stage.
- Do A Reduced Price Launch.
This will be your main launch where you get affiliates involved to launch to the wider community. We talked about this above in the ‘Using A Lower Launch Price’ section, and concluded that allowing people to join for reduced rate for the first week will increase your initial sign ups (It’s important you let these people know that it’s only this price for one week).
Getting more members in will help raise awareness of our product, and hopefully create more affiliates as well. After the first week, it’s important you:
- Either Close Doors Or Raise The Price.
As a marketer in any niche, if you want to build the trust of a community, it’s important you stick to your word. If you said you’re going to shut your doors after the first week or raise the price, then you need to do this. This will help them learn to trust what you say, and also give them some urgency next time you tell them things are only reduced for a limited time.
You want to create excitement around your new product, and show people that it’s more about helping them then you gaining new members. Most people won’t care about how many members you have, they will simply want to know whether or not it can benefit them.
By getting your existing community involved in the planning and giving them exclusive access before anyone else, you will make them feel special and more likely to do two things:
- Spread the word about your course and build excitement, and
- Go on to join the course when it is fully launched.
While it’s not essential to do all of these things when launching your membership site, doing so should increase your reach on the launch day and week. This will in turn increase new member sign ups.
Dealing With Member Losses
Ok, here’s a fact about your membership site: No matter how good it is and how much value it offers, there will always be people that unsubscribe as one of your members. It’s just the way it is.
This is important to be aware of, as it can be easy to feel like you’re not offering a good service when you are. At one point, you need to stop worrying as much about the service you offer (When it’s top quality of course) and shift the majority of your efforts into the marketing of your course and getting in new members.
As I said, there will always be people who unsubscribe. So once you’ve got those numbers down as low as possible by offering a great and easy to use product or service, the next step is to get in more members quicker then you lose existing ones. Think about it, if you are losing five members a month but gaining 10 members every month, not only would you be making up for any member losses, but you’ll also be increasing your profit on a monthly basis. You can get these new members in using the traffic generation methods we’ll be looking at over the next few weeks.
Here are some of the main reasons why people may unsubscribe from your membership, and how to deal with each situation:
- They Haven’t Got The Money To Stay A Member.
This is one of the top reasons I hear when people unsubscribe from one of my courses. They need the money they were spending on one of my courses for something else. This isn’t to say that what I offer isn’t worth the money, as the message they send often also tells me how great the course is. They just simply need all the money they can get at this stage of their lives.
We all know that times have been financially hard for a lot over these last few years, so this reason is to be expected. Bills may be high one month, so they decide to make cut backs. Education (Your membership site) is one of the things that often goes first during these cut backs, especially if it will save them money which they can spend on food or other living essentials.
A possible solution to this is to cut the price of your membership course, but this isn’t always advisable. If you are already offering a good price for your site (Just under your competitors maybe), then keeping your prices the same is the way to go. Think about it; Even if you did lower your prices, the people that leave your course due to finance issues will still most likely unsubscribe from you if the going gets tough. If they need to save money, they will make cut backs whether leaving your course saves them $20 a month or $40 a month. Because of this, even if you do get some people leaving due to financial issues, you should keep what you offer at the same price in the knowledge that you’re making more from the people who do stay enrolled. What’s more, the people who quit when their finances were low may actually join again in a few months when their financial situation is better.
- The Course Wasn’t What They Were Expecting.
Sometimes, people can expect to get one thing from your course, but in reality you are giving them something else. If you only get one or two people giving this as a reason why they unsubscribe from your course, this isn’t an issue, as there’s a chance that they simply didn’t read your sales page properly. If you are getting a few people leaving because of this reason however, you may want to check your sales page and change it to be more clear.
It may be a case of you over exaggerating what you offer in your pitch to potential customers, or simply that what you’re offering isn’t laid out in a clear and easy to understand manner. If this is the case, you will want to change this asap.
You want your sales page to reflect exactly what the customer will be getting once they become a members, as doing anything else will lead to refunds and unsatisfied customers. Both of these things are bad news for you.
- They Haven’t Got Enough Time To Keep Up With What You Are Offering.
If you are providing your members with a course or service that is time dependent, some people may leave your course because they fall behind with what needs to be done, or have missed a deadline. Even if the course isn’t time dependent but your member feels like they aren’t keeping up with the lessons you’re giving them, they may quit simply because they feel overwhelmed.
It’s because of this that, while you should be providing members with a lot of value, you shouldn’t over burden them with too much information. There is such thing as giving your members too much, so don’t make that mistake. Give them all the information they need and cover the important things that are essential for what they’re learning to do. Don’t go over board and offer every little detail, unless that’s required for what your members want to achieve. Most of the time however, it won’t be.
Another way to make encourage people not to quit if they’re not keeping up with lessons, is to remind them that once the lessons are there, they can use and learn from them in their own time. There’s no deadline; Once the lessons are in your members are, you can access them whenever you’re ready. Whether that’s a few days down the line, or a year down the line. This will ease the pressure of them having to read new lessons every week if something comes up and they get very busy.
- They Didn’t Like The Course.
Last but not least, your quitting member may simply not like the course. They may expect more, or they may not like your teaching methods. This is going to happen from time to time, but don’t feel disheartened. You can’t please everyone, so as long as the majority of your members are happy with what you offer, that’s the main thing. You can still receive feedback from these people to see if there is anything you can do to make it that bit better, but most of the time you’ll have to accept your course won’t be for every one.
The reason I know about why people unsubscribe from my membership sites, is because I ask them. When one of my members drops out, I often ask them in a friendly tone why they decided to leave the course. While a number of these people won’t reply, some of them will. Some will also give you a detailed reason.
The information that you can get from doing this can be very valuable. Not only will it help you get a better understanding of things you can change in your course, but it will also help maintain the relationship you have with these valuable customers. They are valuable because they have been proven to buy from you, and are willing to spend money on the type of thing you offer. While they may be dropping out now, who’s to say they won’t spend more money on you in future?
Divert them to your blog if you have one, or social media sites if you don’t. Tell them you hope they enjoy the free information you have on offer, and thank them for being part of your community. This good experience will have you staying in their mind, and when they need the type of product / service you offer again, they will usually come straight back to you, rather then checking out one of your competitors.
So that’s it, you now know how to set up a membership site, have some ideas on what to offer to your members, and have some strategies for a successful launch. If you haven’t already got your own product, creating a membership site should be the first thing you should do. You can only go so far promoting other people’s products; having your own timeless product is where the money is at!
Using the tactics we talked about last lesson, you can launch your membership to paying customers even before you have finished creating all the content. Because of this, there’s no excuse not to put the work in and get your product created.
Membership sites are great for helping to stabilize your income, build up relationships, and help protect you from income fluctuations. Because of these reasons, I highly recommend you create one sooner then later.
What To Do Now
Here is what you should do between now and next lesson. If you don’t have the time, that’s fine. Do as much as you can, and do the rest when the time is there:
- Create The Content.
If you haven’t already, it’s important you start creating the content for your course. Hopefully you’ve already giving your course an outline, but if not do that first. Create all the headers for each lesson (Each lesson going on a separate text editor of your choice), then once fully mapped out, fill out the chapters under each header.
Everything else can be sorted out later, but getting the content made is something that can’t wait. The longer you take to start on and complete your content, the longer it’ll take you to get an income stabilizing product out there. So get working on it right away, and get in a good working habit.
- Look Into Digital Access Pass.
Whether or not you’re at the stage to start creating your membership site (I recommend you start it sooner rather then later), you should check out Digital Access Pass. By looking on their sales page you can see all the features they boast, and see what you could possibly do with this software. You may also want to look at other WordPress Membership plugins to see if you’d rather use those, but out of all the alternatives I’ve used, Digital Access Pass seems to work the best to me. It’s been the easiest to set up, and the easiest to use.
- Decide How You’ll Make Your Website Sticky.
As you’ve seen above, making your website sticky can be very helpful for retaining your current members for longer. Because of this, you need to decide how you’re going to make your site sticky. Are you simply going to offer new lessons every week, or are you going to do something more such as adding a members only forum? Have a think about this, and make a note of any ideas you can think of. If your membership site is already partly up and running, add these features. If not, add them when you can.
- Get An Idea Of How Much You’ll Charge.
While the price you charge in theory may fluctuate between the planning stage and the launch stage, it’s still a good idea to decide how much you’ll charge from now. From here you can decide if it’s worth creating the course, and if it’ll be financially rewarding enough (Or boast other benefits if it’s not paid memberships you’re after).
During this stage you should look at your competitors, and see how much they’re charging for their products or services. Your competition may be other website owners, bloggers, service providers, or even college and university courses. Have a look at their prices, and what they’re offering for this price. If you can compete with the quality of what they’re offering, you can either charge around the same price, under cut them a bit, or price yourself higher and market yourself as a more prestige option. Have a think and decide.
- Get An Idea Of What Payment Processor You’ll Use For Your Membership Site.
How are you going to deliver your product? Are you going to go with Paypal (Which doesn’t have a built in affiliate program), Clickbank for all it’s affiliates, E-Junkie, or another payment processor you know of?
Have a look at the options available to you and decide. This choice can always changed nearer to the launch time, so don’t feel like you have to rush into making a decision. Look around on forums for other people’s experiences with these processors, and decide from there.
What’s Happening In The Next Lesson
Next lesson, we’ll be looking at one of the best methods of driving targeted traffic to your websites: Forum marketing! But I won’t be giving just the standard forum marketing tips, no. I’ll be looking at some advanced tactics you can use to make your efforts work on multiple levels!
While a very powerful tool, many marketers fail to take advantage of this traffic source. Next lesson I’ll be telling you how to promote your website on forums effectively, and giving you some little used methods that I’ve never heard anyone else talk about. Believe me when I tell you those tips alone will be worth reading the next lesson for! Until next time.