Today we’re going to talk about 12 things to consider when choosing a membership site software.
There is actually a lot more than 12 things to consider but these are the things that you really want to think about before you choose your membership site plugin. So hopefully you don’t go in and ask people, “what is the best plug-in out there?” and then buy it and just try to figure out how you’re going to use it, how it’s going to integrate with all your other tools.
POINT #1 – CONTENT DELIVERY
The first thing that you want to consider is how you’re going to be able to deliver your content. So that assumes that you kind of know what type of content you’re going to provide. If it’s going to be a straight membership site, you know recurring monthly content that you’re going to put there. Are you going to have online courses? Are you going to have some free stuff? Some one-time bid content. You want to consider how this membership plug-in is going to allow you to deliver this content. Either through time like every week, every month or through behaviour, you are going to release a content only after they’ve accomplished something. That’s the first thing that you want to look at.
POINT #2 – INTEGRATION WITH TOOLS
The second one is the integration with the tools that you either already have or you plan to use. The two main tools that each one needs to integrate with your CRM, so your email system so that when people purchase, they automatically get added to your membership but also to your CRM and it also needs to integrate with your payment system so that basically you have a whole automated flow – they get to your sales page, they purchase, they get added to the membership, and then they get added to the CRM. Those three tools your membership plug-in, your payment system and your CRM are really the three things that really need to work really well together if you want to be able to scale this solution. Integration is really important.
POINT #3 – SUPPORT YOUR CONTENT STRUCTURE
Number three, it needs to support your content structure. By content structure I mean, if you’re doing a membership for example, what type of membership it is? what type of levels do you have? Is it Tier levels where you have Bronze, Silver, Gold? The gold level has access to everything that Silver and Bronze has or is it independent levels? Do you want to mix a membership site that’s going to have those type of levels or stages and maybe a signature course? and maybe some free contents. You need to make sure that your membership plugin is going to allow you to accommodate these type of contents and it’s not going to get too messy inside when people have access to multiple things, signature course and recurring content.
POINT #4 – STATS
Number four is stats. Especially when you’re running a membership that’s recurring monthly or yearly revenue, one thing that you’re looking at is of course retention. When you’re getting people inside, they are not paying a whole lot of money to get in, it’s the recurring revenue that is the real value. That’s why it’s really important that you look at what we call the churn, which is basically the percentage of people that leave every months and you really want to keep that number as low as you can so you want to focus on bringing members but you also want to make sure that you keep recurring members happy and for that you need stats, you need to be able to see what type of content they are consuming, what type of content they are not consuming, you need to be able to see people that are actually not logging in, maybe you can “poke” them and try to figure out if there is anything that is blocking them because chances are they might leave if they are not actually using the membership. Stats are really important.
POINT #5 – SUPPORT
Number five is support. Support for the membership plugin, it is really important that you choose a tool that is maintained where they have regular releases, where you can see that they are making an effort to try to integrate with other things out there to make your experience and your member’s experience the best that it can be. Online support through email, having somebody that you can talk to is really really important and if they have the community like through a private Facebook group or something like that where you can get together with other people that are using that membership plugin, it’s even better because you can help then support each other as well in this journey. Support is super important.
POINT #6 – GAMIFICATION
Number six is gamification. If you don’t know what gamification is, it’s basically everything you can do inside your membership site to help your members consume your content while having fun and when we say “while having fun” that means without it being boring. We don’t want them to be bored. There are variety of things that you can do through gamifications: you can do progress tracking, you can do checklists, people like to know like they have accomplished 20%, 30%, 90%, Certificates like a certificate of completion with badges and things like that, you can also do quizzes so at the end of certain pieces of content, you can quiz people and you can reward them based on the result like if they have achieved more than a certain percentage, maybe you can unlock some content or unlock some special offers that they don’t have access to otherwise. That’s gamification.
POINT #7 – EASE OF USE
Number seven is the ease of use. I have worked with quite a few membership plugins and it’s true that some are easier to use than others. There are two levels that you have to consider, one is the initial setup and 2 is the maintenance. If you’re not going to do the main setup yourself, I guess it’s not a biggie, just as long as it’s setup correctly, it’s hooked up to your emails, it’s hooked up to your payments and that’s not something that you’ll ever have to do again, it only needs to get done once. What’s more important for you and your team is the ongoing maintenance and by that I mean not only updating WordPress and your plugins but adding new content, being able to troubleshoot if members are having trouble logging in, have an easy way to find out why people are not getting access, things like giving manual access to somebody.
All these things that you might have to do on a daily basis to maintain your membership site; adding new content, new courses, new freebies, unlocking new bonuses and things like that. The tool needs to provide you with an easy way to do that, you shouldn’t require a developer to add that.
POINT #8 – COMMUNITY
Number eight is having a community component. If that is something that you want. What we’re seeing right now is that more and more membership sites at least the ones that I see and hangout around are heavily based on community. They do have really good content, some is like quick tutorials content, some is like courses type of content but they have a big community aspect.
Did you know that they say people join for the content, but they stay for the people? That’s really something to consider if community is gonna be a big part of your membership site then definitely you need to pick a membership plugin that is going to allow you to integrate that community so it’s not something separate, it’s not in a Facebook group or something like that but it’s really integrated with your content and that’s really really important.
POINT #9 – CREDIT AND REWARD SYSTEM
Number nine is credit and reward system. That is something as well that we see more and more in a membership site it’s to provide points for people when they achieve something, they can also purchase points that they can redeem for either more content or services: time with you one-on-oneor things like that and that is basically it’s a great way to retain people, it’s a great retention strategy because you are actually rewarding people that are taking action, basically the way that would work is you could every month provide a number of credit that they can redeem ideally after some months. Any type of content or service that you have, so if that’s something that you would like to implement then you want to make sure that either the membership plugin can do it or that you can integrate points system that will allow you to do that.
POINT #10 – COMMUNITY COMPONENT
If you want to build a strong community of members that support each other, interact with each other, you need to make sure that you choose tools that are going to integrate easily with each other so that the member experience is not affected.
If you want a forum type of feature, make sure you pick your forum solution before you choose your membership plugin so that you can choose the tool that will answer your needs.
If you prefer to have just conversations area and not a full forum, then you have more flexibility, but either way, it’s important that you think of the community component and take it into account when choosing your membership solution.
POINT #11 – DISCOUNTS, COUPONS, AND TRIALS
Number eleven is offering discounts, coupons, trials. If that’s something that you want to do then you definitely have to make sure that your membership site plugin is going to allow you to do that. It’s going to be heavily tied to your payment system as well but if that’s something that you want to do then that’s something that you want to consider.
POINT #12 – COST
Number twelve is the cost because we don’t want to ignore the cost. When you’re starting a membership site, you are in it for a long run, it’s not a sprint, it’s a MARATHON. What you’re trying to do is you’re bringing new people, you’re working really hard on retaining these people and building your monthly revenue months after months after months. That’s the general idea. When you look at the cost of the membership site, you have to look at it but you also have to look at it as an investment. What is the value that is bringing you compared to the cost? Even if you’re paying a monthly fee, if that fee is paid with just one or two members, to me, that is peanuts because this is going to be running your whole business, at least a big part of your business, this is going to generate recurring revenue for you months after months after months. If there is a recurring cost, that could be okay, it’s for you to evaluate the pros and cons but the cost is something that you want to look at but again, look at the value that it brings you, the peace of mind or the technology and the platform that allows you to have to serve your members and to retain them.
Let me just recap those 12 things that you have to consider before purchasing a membership plugin.
The first one was content delivery. Making sure that you can deliver the content when you want, based on time, weekly, monthly but also based on behaviour like after people have accomplished something and you release a new piece of content.
Integration. Make sure that it integrates with what you already use and at least your email system and your payment system. That it supports your content structure. If you want a membership site but you also want to add your signature courses, maybe some free content then you also need to consider to make sure the plugin can do that.
Stats. You want to be able to see what’s going on, what people are doing, what people are not doing so that you can improve the platform, you can reach out to those people.
Support. The membership plugin needs to have excellent support and regular revisions that they release because that means they stay on top of the market and that’s really really important.
Number six, gamification. Gamification is really really important in a membership site because that’s what really helps, that’s one of the things that really with retention, having things like progress tracking, assessment, quizzes, the generation of certificate of completion and things like that are super important.
Number seven, ease of use and again, ease of use is I would say is mostly for the maintenance, the day to day activities, adding new members, troubleshooting, adding new content every month, every week and just making sure that you and your team are comfortable maintaining this platform without requiring a developer to do it for you.
Number eight, community component. If that’s something that’s important to you, you have to consider what do they integrate with, what do they recommend, that’s important.
Credit System and Reward system; another way for retention.
Number ten was stat prerequisites. What are the technical elements that you need to have in place for this membership plugin? What are the things that you absolutely need to have that could be a job breaker for you? Take a look at the tech requirement, most of the times you’re going to be fine but there are things that maybe will not integrate with and that’s gonna be a big no-no for you.
Number eleven was the discount, coupon, and trials. If you want to support that, you have to make sure that it’s going to allow you to do that.
Number twelve was the cost. We want to look at the cost and when you’re comparing membership plugin, we want to make sure that you compare oranges with oranges.
I hope you find these 12 things to consider useful.