To Launch Your Membership Site With The Maximum Impact, And To Get Signups In Good Numbers, It Takes Planning, Testing, Tactic-Readiness. Are You Game?
Getting your membership site ready for your big launch takes a lot of work ahead of time. It’s no less than the workload of the bride’s mother before the wedding.
The secret to success lies in keeping everything so ready that the launch flows smoothly like a well-oiled event. If you read our list of actionables below, you’ll find most of them are about pre-launch buzz-creation for building visibility and attractiveness of your membership site.
You may think that most of the tension is usually on launch date, but if you are all set ahead of time, you may find the actual date of launch quite relaxing, even as it is exciting.
At Solohacks Academy, we love launch days. We are sure you too want to enjoy the day, right? You don’t want to be chewing your nails in fear of having missed out something important. Your launch date is for signing up as many members as you can get – and not for fixing kinks in your site that you forgot to repair.
1. Assess content you have for audience-fit – or create at speed
If you’ve already been blogging a lot, or creating podcasts or YouTube videos, you could consider checking all your knowledge-products to see if they will form the first few pieces of content in your membership site library. Most importantly, you have to see that these pieces of content you already have fit in with the audience segments you have identified as your micro-marketing prospects.
Chances are you do have some content – but unless you tweak it for audience-segment-fit, it may not be readily reusable. So here are four things you can do with old content to make it usable for your membership site:
- Identify all content that is dated, and refresh it with up-to-date content. Preferably, ensure that the content becomes “evergreen content” i.e. valuable at any time and not time-limited. See that all the data you have used shows the results of recent research (with links to see updated research in future).
- For every piece of theoretical content you have previously published, review and refresh the practical usefulness of it. Some content could be repurposed into extra formats, such as text content being repurposed also for video or podcast versions. Some content could be enhanced with content upgrades, such as add-on worksheets, PDF versions, or templates. The idea is to offer many formats and add-ons created out of the same content, to build the utility value of your library.
- If the images that go with all the disparate contents you have are not coherent, all your pieces of content may not look like they belong to a single membership site. So, standardize the images and look and feel of the pieces to visually give them a coherent brand look.
- Internal linking of all the content that addresses the needs of a particular audience segment is a great idea. As the audience segment consumes its relevant content, the links will lead to related content that may also be attractive to read or engage with.
What if you don’t already have enough older content to put on the buffet spread for your members? If you have just a small amount of old content you can repurpose to pack into your library for a full-blown membership site, you may feel daunted. How on earth are you going to create all the content needed to keep members happy with the quantity and quality of fare?
I have an amazing story to tell you. I had one such entrepreneur as a client who somehow never seemed fazed at the idea. So I asked him how he was so confident that he would have at least fifty meaty pieces of valuable content on his chosen topic for his members’ library in under three weeks. You’d be surprised at his answer to me.
He said, he would just pick up about eight to ten Amazon Kindle books on his chosen topic, sign up for some two or three Udemy courses, and collect a lot of blog posts around his topic that he thought would fit his members’ library. He would then convert every chapter of every Amazon book into his own knowledge product, by rewriting it all in his own style and language, without wasting time on his own topic research.
Then he would similarly convert his Udemy courses’ modules into his own knowledge products. And, finally, he would rewrite all the blog posts he saw as suitable fodder for his library.
These fifty pieces of “pinched but totally rewritten” content would help fill his library with its first bulk of knowledge products. They would all be ebooks as these were the easiest to produce, unlike videos or podcasts, or other formats. He’d save enormous time by not doing his own research on topics, if he followed those who had already done the research for him.
When he had these fifty pieces of content in place in under three weeks, he’d decide to then pad up his library by creating his own original knowledge products in slightly diverse formats with a few videos and a few podcasts and other derivatives such as worksheets, templates, PDF docs, and so on. He’d aim to keep on producing at the rate of one content piece per day at a steady pace. By the end of his first year, he expected he would have close to 400 really good knowledge products.
So how did this story end? Did he do it? You bet he did.
2. Get some beta tests organized as kink-removing phases before launch
It cannot be said often enough, but well before you launch your membership, you have to beta test all its features. Not just once, but many times over. Even if you are using a WordPress platform, and have the best plugins that you can use out of the box, with full functionalities and features, bells and whistles – you still have to test, test, test.
Some membership site owners go as far as to have several versions of beta tests e.g. v.1.0, v 2.0, and so on. This is because every time you tweak something on your site, something else may go out of whack. A membership site has many cross-working features and many moving parts.
There are the content stacks to create and array, which may be in many different formats; there are levels of membership and their tenure and fees to manage, with upgrading and downgrading facility; there are all the ecommerce functionalities, the payment gateways, and the subscription payment issues to iron out; there is traffic density and robustness of your site-hosting to double-check on; plus, there is constant content addition and updation to schedule and manage.
In addition you may be planning several events or high points – like masterminds, a forum, webinars, and so on. Everything from member acquisition, to onboarding, to emailing, to managing, to finance, to content management, to events, is squarely on your shoulders. If you use plugins, you have to see that their features are all working properly, coherently and in tandem with each other.
There is no shortcut to beta testing, and there is no shortcut to beta testing in several iterations, to get it all running smoothly.
There are other benefits to beta testing too:
- You may want to co-opt a few friends or past customers to be the beta testers of your site. You’d have to offer them your membership free in return, but their advice and feedback will be invaluable. Anyway, when you are ready to launch, there will already be a group of users on your membership site, and new joiners won’t be entering a bare house. That’s a huge plus point.
- Your beta testers will also help you formulate a good FAQ section, based on all the queries they have raised with you. This will help new members immensely to have a database of commonly asked questions. You can then add to this FAQ database when real members join and add their queries that you have to give answers for. If you create a habit, right from the beta testing stage, to compile all queries and answers in one place – your FAQ page – life will become less time-consuming in later days as more people join.
3. How you price your membership can make or break your launch – be careful
There are three keys to deciding on launch pricing:
- Pricing after considering your business model: Depending on how you’ve chosen your business model, you need to consider the level of upfront prices you’ll charge versus the level of ongoing prices. You could look at the nearest online examples of other membership sites to decide on pricing benchmarks in the marketplace. Or you could look at the quality and quantity of your library and see if it can command premium prices. Either way, you also have to estimate likely demand, and decide whether you feel confident of getting a certain minimum number of members to break even, and then make a profit. In general, it’s easier to charge on the higher side and discount if demand is weak, than to do it the opposite way. It really tough to increase prices unless you’ve built a loyal franchise.
- The concept of the anchor pricing in memberships: Often you’ll find that membership sites set extremely high prices for their topmost level of membership. The price actually would be prohibitive (even if they seem to offer a lot for it). But do these levels of memberships sell? No, they don’t. And neither does the entrepreneur care. These are “anchor prices”. “Anchor prices” help to signal to customers that even the lower-priced offerings of the site will be of a certain premium level. When you create your anchor offer, you set the expectation of quality in the mind of your customer. But you know that they will only buy your lower-priced membership. This is actually a common marketing tactic. A kitchen gadget maker will first show you his $5000 model, to get you to buy what he then shows you – the $500 model.
- Membership sites earn through volumes of customers: With membership programs, the volume of customers you have at any given time will determine your profitability. As a business owner, you have to know what your costs are per month. Only then will you know how many customers you need to maintain per month, despite the likely churn. The math is simple enough. See what the average customer spends per month on membership. Decide your target revenue per month to cover all costs plus good profit. Divide your revenue target by your average spend per customer, to know how many customers you’ll need to hold per month. As I said, the math is simple. It’s the doing that’s the challenge.
4. Decide on an enrollment window when prices will be at a never-again level
Creating artificial scarcity is one of the time-tested ploys to increase the perception of quality of your membership site. You may have seen many examples of this. Membership site owners will often restrict the length of the enrollment window, so you can become a member only at certain “open seasons” of the year. The rest of the time you are deliberately kept waiting a bit (because scarcity creates a feeling an urgency to join).
Even if you don’t want to restrict enrollments to your membership site, you can still use the scarcity-creation idea to good effect. For evergreen membership sites, for instance, the simplest way is to offer specially discounted, introductory pricing during your launch period. Use the OTO (One Time Only) ploy. Say these are never-again prices, and open only to the first flush of members joining during the launch window.
One important point to note here is this. It’s better to limit enrollment via a price discount or by shortening the enrollment window to a specific time period, rather than saying the special offer is only available to the first 200 members. If people see that to get 200 members is taking you two whole months, what will that say about the attractiveness of your site or your offer?
Why must you plan this restricted-enrollment-window idea well ahead of site launch? It’s because you too have to gauge how much workload you can handle. If luck is on your side, there may be suddenly 500 members wanting to join in the launch period. If you can decide what’s handleable for you, well in advance, your idea of enrolling in batches can be worked out to match your own managing skills and resources. Better to queue up members, than to let them all in and earn a bad name with poor management of your site and members.
5. Start a waiting list of eager joiners well before your actual launch date
A lot of marketers debate on how soon a membership site should start putting potential customers into waiting lists in anticipation of site launches. By most accounts, experts say that the moment you decide on starting a membership site you can start collecting those interested and posting them into a waitlist queue.
All you need is a special page where you describe the membership site you are going to launch and its benefits and have a form placed suitably on it to capture email addresses of those who wish to be alerted when enrollment opens.
Therefater some drip email sequences that create excitement over the impending launch of the membership site – and how far it has progressed – can be sent out to those who have expressed interest. You can also use these emails to offer bits of tantalizing ideas of what the membership site will contain, and even create some suspense over certain special features of the site that will be revealed later. You can involve those on the waitlist to see what other features they may like to see on a great membership site. Co-opting people makes them feel a sense of ownership of the site even as they wait to become full-fledged members.
One other idea that many membership sites use is to point the waitlist people towards a free Facebook Group created to hold them. Discussions can go on in this Group about membership sites in general and what they should offer, and what people’s experiences have been with the niche topic around which your membership site is coming up. Friendships between people on the waitlist can be formed which can carry on later into your launched membership site.
As the experts say, the pre-buzz and excitement should be started well ahead of site launch, so people feel like they’re waiting to join something special.
6. Offer a free mini-ecourse by email as an appetite-whetting starter
One good idea to keep people on your waiting list prepped and ready to plunge into your membership site when you open, is to give them a free mini-ecourse by email. People love to get their teeth into a topic as soon as they sign up for alerts on the launch of a course. To keep your topic at the top of their minds, what can be better than an email course?
Try to make your min-ecourse by email a small replica of your membership site library – include some tips and tactics that are part of all the different content from your membership library. Make sure you give enough content to make the course by email look worth it, but don’t give away too much that members lose the appetite to sign up for your membership site.
One important point is to not make the emails in the course series too frequent. That way you’ll run out of ideas before your site launch. Send one part of your email course every week, to keep the topic fresh in potential members’ minds.
Always ask questions at the end of each email that will provoke thought, or make waitlisted members want to scribble down some ideas they get after reading your emails. Encourage people to create mindmaps of these emails you send them, so when they get to your full membership site, they can pack in a lot more into their mindmaps and turn these into their strategy documents or ready-reckoners.
7. Get a social media teaser campaign out to increase excitement before launch
As you grow your content for your membership site, in anticipation of the launch, you can start “advertising” tidbits of your content as teaser-trailers on social media. Create a spate of social updates that contain the key images of your content library topics, with teasing headlines that suggest there are loads of secret tips being compiled for you on the topics.
You can make these simple updates with status images, or compile short videos (Hollywood style trailers) to say “Coming soon …!” It’s a neat idea to ask a question in the title of these teaser-trailer ads like, “Did you know the market for blog writing freelancers is heading for $567 million by 2023?”
As you inch closer to the actual launch date of your membership site, make the social updates more frequent. Send these updates as teaser-emails to your waitlisted audiences as well, saying “Look, we’re getting noisy on LinkedIn now! And people are asking what’s the excitement!”
What can your teaser-trailers be about? Don’t run out of ideas. Brainstorm well ahead and have enough and more to keep releasing on social media, notably Twitter, Facebook Pages, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube.
- Create and publish teasers on the topics your membership site will offer
- Post sizzling trailers on the innovations in your members’ only content
- Release teasers on the price and other benefits members will get
- Create smart YouTube Shorts on the group events planned and scheduled
- One by one, show the flattering testimonials of your site beta testers
- Publish images of your site dashboard, and key course pages, as a foretaste of your site
- An even greater idea – show “behind-the-scenes” pics of your site being constructed
- Publish updates with your waitlisted audiences expressing eager anticipation of your launch
- Release teaser-trailers with a countdown to your membership site launch, day by day
You get the gist? Excitement-building, done in varied ways, but frequently – and with little teaser-trailer shots on diverse social media – can really help enhance the enthusiasm for the launch date.
8. Get some terrific blog posts out in spate on your site and guest sites
When it comes to visibility with authority, there’s nothing in this Universe to beat blogging. Blog posts give people a taste of your sheer expertise on a topic, apart from emblazoning your brand across the Net if done in spate.
Just before the launch of your membership site, you have to be ready to release blog posts by the dozens that build your E-A-T factor (Expertise-Authority-Trustworthiness). You have to be seen as a “visible expert” so that means lots of blog posts on your own site, on popular blogging spaces like Medium, and on guest sites. Obviously, you can’t write good, high-value blog posts in a hurry, so keep these ready well ahead (and synced to the key topics of your membership site) and release them in spate from about a month before the launch.
Don’t forget to promote all these blog posts too. Here are ways:
- Do some blogger outreach to peer-bloggers, telling them to read your posts and share socially or link to them, if they like. Tell them of your impending membership site.
- Do some roundup posts where you include the opinions of other bloggers on the topic of your membership site, and give these quoted bloggers a shoutout by email, to say you’ve used their thoughts from social media or their blog posts. They will be tempted to share around your blog post.
- Do some more roundup posts of the tools, software, and resources you will be teaching members to use on your membership site, and give the tool-and resource-marketers a heads-up by email, to say you’ll be promoting their tools. Sign up with them as an affiliate, if you wish. They too will be tempted to share around your blog post.
- Do yet some more articles on your soon-to-launch membership site, its contents, innovations, and benefits – distribute these articles to PR agencies so they can promote your launch with some hot press releases.
9. Get a spanking webinar ready to roll out to create more launch pre-buzz
Among all marketing and promotion formats, webinars are immensely powerful. A Content Marketing Institute study found this: webinars are in the top five effective marketing tactics.
The term “webinar” comes from the words “web seminar”. Webinar marketing, in and of itself is a powerful selling tool for marketers of all kinds of products online. Webinars have the feel of a 45-60 minutes classroom – a video tutorial – where the marketer lays out a structured or semi-structured presentation of his topic and his product. He also invites questions that he can answer from participants.
By the end of the webinar there is also a good discount offer on the product the marketer is selling – to sweeten the deal for those who’ve invested time attending and listening to the webinar. Why webinars sell products so well is because people like the experience of an event that helps them over the edge from hesitation to confident buying.
The problem with webinars may be that you are an already overburdened solopreneur in Knowledge Commerce. Your content creation workload is always enormous. You may thus have no bandwidth to be conducting live events like webinars to push your membership site selling a notch higher. Right?
Well, there’s a smart solution you can use – by creating “evergreen webinars”. What’s that? Evergreen webinars are webinars where you don’t need to run regular live events, but you can achieve the same results as if you did. They are pre-recorded and run. These days evergreen webinars do a fabulous job of offering the experience of live webinars, complete with audience interactivity simulation.
With evergreen webinars you can either schedule them (say, for four fixed times every day) or make them “on-demand” for those who want to attend at any time of their convenience.
You can and should use evergreen webinars as a promotional tactic before the launch of your membership site, The format is powerful, so use it to best advantage.
10. Plan to release your top-wallop content on the date of the launch
You can launch you membership site softly, but if you have the gumption, you should aim to make your launch an eyeball-riveting event. Pack the most punch into the launch as you can – you’ll never get a second chance to make a first strong impression.
What kinds of things can you do to make your membership site launch a spectacular, much-spoken about event? Here are some smart ideas:
- Create a launch event of some length – may be 30 days long. You can have an Online Summit in your niche, with enrollment side by side for the membership site. For a whole month, you could release new interview videos every day with guest speakers and A-lister influencers who promote your site subtly, while speaking of your niche and its branches of knowledge.
- You can issue a 30-day Challenge for a teasing project in your niche for which people would have to access your library of membership content. You can say that the top ten winners and runners up will get life-membership of your site plus a whole lot of other graded perks.
- To sign up more members who love a game, you can launch your site with a Treasure Hunt, for which clues may be scattered all over your membership site. This would familiarize people with the volume of content on your site and how it is arrayed. Make sure you give people a different treasure hunt each day for, say, ten or twenty days.
- If you have some super-special content that other competitive sites don’t have – like an innovative app of your membership site that people can download to mobile – make that downloading a top-wallop story connected to your membership site launch. You can even set up a ticker or counter that shows how many people are downloading the app from your site at lightning speed.
- A great idea is to launch your membership site with a social cause attached to it. For example, you could say that 25% of the first fees from the first 500 signups will be given to a “cause” close to your niche. Make sure the cause is closely connected to your niche, because if it works, your brand will always gain from the association. For example, if your niche is “better blog writing” you could donate 25% of the proceeds of your first 500 member signup fees to get simple tablet computers for school children in less-developed countries. This way people will not only gain something for themselves but also get a chance to give back to society. Giving makes people online very generous.
The overall idea is to create a longish period of high-visibility and newsiness around your membership site. Gve people enough time to register that your site is a happening place at the moment, and entice them to get to see it. It won’t happen in just one day. And if your launch is just about one-day’s event, it will vanish fast, like a momentary blip, from public consciousness.
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of Knowledge Commerce solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
This post is part of a series that elaborates on “How To Create A Membership Site Online For Knowledge Commerce“.
Other related posts you may like to read are these:
- How To Create A Membership Site … 10 Quality Ideas
- How To Choose A Membership Model … 10 Smart Options
- How To Mix Your Membership Site Content … 10 Must Haves
- How To Improve Your Membership Retention … 10 Easy Ways
- How To Price Your Membership Profitably … 10 Sound Methods
- How To Handle Customer Service In Memberships … 10 Savers
- How To Measure Membership Metrics … 10 Ideal Indicators
- How To Grow Successful Membership Sites … 10 Vital Traits