Developing a membership website is one of the simplest methods to boost user engagement. By permitting visitors to become members, you encourage them to continue connecting with your company in exchange for rewards, access to unique content, and other benefits.
This raises the possibility of recurrent site visitors, longer session durations, and more sales. If you charge subscription fees, memberships also offer revenue streams.
It may seem tough to sell memberships, but you can quickly establish your own membership site using a dedicated membership website builder, a content management system with built-in membership capabilities, or a plugin.
A membership website is a website that provides members with gated material and unique privileges. These perks may consist of special reports, newsletters, webinars, online courses, exclusive invitations to conferences and events, and free shipping. Numerous businesses, non-profits, clubs, and groups use membership websites to cultivate a devoted and engaged audience.
Membership vs. Subscription Websites
There are some similarities between membership websites and subscription websites, although they are not exactly the same: Customers can pay to become members of a group through a website that offers membership, while customers can pay to utilize a product or service for a predetermined amount of time through a website that offers subscription. The financial agreement that must be made to use a website qualifies it as a subscription service. On the other hand, a membership site might demand a subscription from its users, but it is not required to do so.
HOW TO CREATE A MEMBERSHIP WEBSITE
Depending on the platform, there are numerous methods for creating a membership website.
First, ensure that your website is operational. Once you have a website, there are five steps to offering subscriptions.
1. Determine your membership structure.
Before installing a platform or plugin, you should design a membership model in which you determine what you’ll offer and how much you’ll charge annually. In this business model, users pay a monthly subscription in exchange for access to services, perks, information, events, networking opportunities, classes, and/or facilities.
To create a membership plan, you must respond to three questions.
- What do you plan to give your members?
- What membership levels, if any, will you offer?
- How much would you charge, if applicable, and how often?
First, generate potential offerings for members. Evaluate your products, services, and messaging to determine the customer value you’ll deliver. At this stage, it’s helpful to study your buyer personas and generate ideas for exclusive content they’d love.
Some of these offerings could be innate. For instance, a fitness center provides access to its facilities, a chamber of commerce provides access to its networking events, and an educator provides access to courses and special information.
Other businesses have less evident offerings. If you are a solo proprietor or a successful freelancer, you can give training to other aspiring freelancers in your profession. The course on the Art of Proofreading is a good illustration of this.
If you are an e-commerce business or online retailer, you might follow Amazon’s lead and provide free shipping to your customers. In addition to exclusive access to perks, points, product samples, website pages, blog posts, PDFs, events, webinars, and e-books, you may also provide discounts. The renowned Barnes & Noble membership model provides a ten percent discount on all purchases.
Next, choose your membership tiers, if any. Depending on the membership level, users have access to additional content and deals. For instance, Costco offers two levels: Gold Star and Gold Star Executive. Alternatively, it may be advantageous to begin with a single consistent level that everyone can join. There is only one membership option available at Amazon, Ulta, and Barnes & Noble, making it straightforward to join.
Lastly, determine price, if necessary. Free memberships can help you build a large list of marketing-qualified leads, so it can be advantageous to offer them occasionally. If you decide to charge, you should investigate the price of your competitors. Choose the frequency as well; possibilities include annual, biannual, and monthly, with annual being the most prevalent.
2. Develop exclusive material for members.
Now that you’ve developed a comprehensive membership model, it’s time to design the gated content, pages, courses, events, and other stuff you intend to provide to your members. Creating the material before launching your new membership option will ensure that your clients are delighted and not frustrated.
Gated material may not be necessary for membership models centered on benefits. However, creating exclusive materials may be the key to recruiting users. Member-only emails are an excellent choice. In these emails, you can distribute discount codes that are accessible solely to your members or subscribers.
This step would also involve the creation of a pricing page and an enrollment form. However, membership pages should not be published just yet. Before doing so, you will choose a content management system (CMS) or install a membership plugin, which will be covered in depth below.
3. Select a membership plugin or platform.
It’s time to choose a platform or plugin now that you’ve developed a membership model, determined price, and published content.
If you are using WordPress, evaluate membership plugins and select the one that matches your requirements the best. If you are using a different platform, you may incorporate a membership offering by using the platform’s already-integrated settings or by selecting a third-party supplier. MemberSpace and Membership Works, for instance, can be simply integrated with your Squarespace website if you use that platform.
Regardless of your selection, a solid membership plugin or platform will possess the following characteristics:
Contact segmentation: Your selected platform should permit you to separate your contacts into members and non-members and provide additional segmentation options as needed.
For any membership model to function, content restriction is important. It will distinguish between website visitors and members. A membership platform should allow you to selectively restrict access to content depending on a user’s membership status.
User and member pages: Your platform should permit the creation of pages and forms pertaining to membership.
Some desirable, but optional, qualities include:
Whether it is used to send welcome or renewal emails, an automated workflow function can save you time.
Payment provider integrations: If your membership is free, you may not need this integration. If so, this is a crucial skill to keep an eye out for.
Engagement analytics may not be necessary if you are already tracking engagement with a service like Google Analytics. However, some membership platforms can provide even more specific information. Both YourMembership and Bold Memberships offer this functionality.
Third-party integrations: If you choose an out-of-the-box option such as Subhub or CMS Hub, you won’t need third-party integrations. However, if you’re utilizing a plugin or extension, it should be compatible with your other marketing tools. MemberPress, a plugin for WordPress, connects with Zapier so that you may connect it to other applications.
If you offer different membership levels, you’ll need a plugin or platform that supports multiple pricing points and membership tiers.
Knowing what to look for should make it somewhat simpler to make a decision. Now that you have established your platform, it is time to post the material you have developed for your subscribers.
4. Publish your members-only pages.
Remember the restricted pages and posts you generated previously? It’s time to publish and restrict access to these. On some platforms, this is possible with a single click. For others, you may need to navigate to the page you wish to secure and select “members only” from a drop-down menu.
You will also need to post a pricing page at this stage. This should be made public, as it assists users in making purchasing decisions. Consider installing a price table plugin if your membership platform does not include a pricing page option or you do not wish to develop a pricing table from scratch.
You can also establish a private community forum for members only.
5. Announce your new membership offering via email and social media.
Your membership model, unique offers, membership platform, and pricing page have been established. Now is the moment to recruit members!
Inform your social media followers, email contacts, and blog readers of your new membership. Consider offering a discounted membership fee for a limited time to increase conversion rates. You might also follow Amazon’s example and provide student discounts. Consider providing discounts to senior citizens and military veterans.
Now that you’re prepared to create a membership site, it’s time to investigate the finest membership website builders and platforms that may assist you in doing so.
MemberPress is a premium WordPress plugin that simplifies the creation and administration of membership subscriptions and the sale of digital download products. Members’ access to your posts, pages, videos, categories, tags, feeds, communities, and digital files can be granted (or revoked) based on their membership status using MemberPress.
This plugin enables interfaces with Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net, and marketing solutions like MailChimp in addition to advanced user flow choices, content dripping, and other out-of-the-box capabilities.
Wix is a hosted website builder with a limited free plan and a number of paid plans. On any of these plans, you may construct a members-only section and allow visitors to register for special content. You can offer paid memberships without installing any third-party integrations if you upgrade to one of the premium plans.
Wix is, however, functionally constrained. For example, you cannot personalize registration emails or establish multilingual membership sites. You must also download a number of Wix business and social solutions, such as Wix Chat, to enhance the experience of your members.
MemberSpace is a third-party application for building membership-protected content on Squarespace, Webnode, and WordPress sites, among others. MemberSpace enables you to fence any of your pages and specify the actions required for members to gain access. It might be as easy as signing up for your newsletter or paying a subscription fee, such as on the website of Follower to Fan Society.
The website builder Wild Apricot was developed specifically with membership websites in mind. Using Wild Apricot, you are able to establish a variety of membership tiers, each of which can provide benefits that increase in value as the membership level increases. Wild Apricot has tools that can assist you in managing your events, email marketing, and online payments in addition to the management of your members.
Because Wild Apricot comes with tools for making websites, you can either start from scratch when creating your site or leverage an existing WordPress site.
YourMembership is a website builder that specializes in membership websites and provides all of the tools necessary to design and maintain a website. You may monitor metrics regarding the growth of your site, set up automatic workflows, and post blogs, polls, and surveys all from a single dashboard. This is in addition to the fact that you are able to manage members and events from this dashboard.
Morweb is a content management system (CMS) that was developed with the needs of charities and associations in mind. It is possible to design and alter a fundamental membership website without having to use any coding since the platform provides a drag-and-drop editor, responsive templates, and highly customizable modules. On your Morweb site, in addition to being able to arrange events and take online donations, you may also password-protect your pages.
With Weebly, you don’t have to do any extra work to set up a membership website. You have the option of including a straightforward signup form on your homepage, providing members with a single-click login option, and establishing multiple membership tiers. You may also increase the number of people who sign up for your service by including buttons or links to the login or registration window on any of your webpages, email newsletters, or social media posts.
Building and maintaining a membership site is made easy using SubHub’s straightforward platform. On your Subhub website, you have the ability to generate a number of different membership tiers, enable recurring subscriptions, process credit card payments, provide promotional codes, and drip content.
You can begin the process of designing your site by using one of the templates that are provided by SubHub, or you can employ the customer success team at SubHub to create a bespoke design for you.
MembershipWorks is a membership program that can be integrated with websites that are built with WordPress, Squarespace, or Weebly. It can also work with static HTML websites. You have the option of either installing it on your website as an extension or signing up for the hosted version.
Members can sign up for your website, renew their memberships, and update their profiles all with the help of MembershipWorks. You can organize them into groups by using labels and folders, and then you can send an email to all of the groups, or to just one of the groups, at any moment.
The timeline feature is what differentiates MembershipWorks from several other dedicated membership solutions on the market. You can see a member’s whole history in one spot, including any notes they’ve made, their payment history, any donations they’ve made, and the events they’ve attended. Because Timeline is integrated with the billing and event management systems offered by MembershipWorks, transactions such as payments, membership renewals, and event registration are all automatically logged.
A commercial plugin called WishList Member can turn your WordPress site into a fully operational membership site. This plugin costs money. After activating the plugin, you will have the ability to safeguard your content with a single click, integrate it with any of the twenty different payment providers that are supported, and examine membership statistics and data in your dashboard.
You will also have the ability to establish an unlimited number of membership levels, and you will have the option to make each membership level either free, trial, or paid.
Memberful is membership software that will assist you in the development of a community while simultaneously increasing revenue. You have the ability to view the activity of your members, provide free trials, create coupons, and more.
Using the Memberful WordPress plugin, you can quickly include Memberful into a website that is powered by WordPress. You can also use Memberful with other website builders; but, as these other website builders do not allow single sign-on, it is not possible to construct web pages that are accessible exclusively to members of your organization. That being said, you will be able to sell memberships on your website; however, you will be required to distribute information accessible only to members through one of Memberful’s integrations for its email newsletter or discussion forum.
You may create and sell memberships on your Shopify store by making use of a software called Bold Memberships, which is available for purchase. With the help of this program, you can choose to display or conceal any content, products, pages, prices, add-to-cart buttons, menu items, and more. Within your dashboard, you have the ability to view metrics, create an unlimited number of membership tiers, and charge membership fees that are recurring.
Including a membership option on your website is one of the most effective methods to improve the overall experience for your visitors. You can boost user engagement and create new streams of revenue to your website by implementing any one of the dedicated membership website builders, content management systems (CMS) platforms with built-in functionality, or plugins listed above.