Membership Geeks

Should You “Drip Feed” Your Membership Content?

Drip feed membership content

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Drip feeding your membership or course content can be a good way of increasing the value and stickiness of your membership, as well as providing other benefits for both you and your members.

But what actually counts as drip feeding and in what circumstances should you use it?

What is ‘drip feeding'?

If you've spent a lot of time looking at online courses or membership sites, their associated plugins and software, then you are probably already familiar with the terms ‘drip feeding' and ‘content dripping'.

Drip feeding is essentially time-releasing your content so that it isn’t all available to someone immediately.

So rather than members having full access to your entire library and then releasing new content regularly, your content is instead released on a set schedule.

This is typically based on the date that your member signed up. For example, someone signing up in May receives the same content on month 2 of their membership as someone who signed up in February did.

Why would you use drip feeding?

This kind of content release can be a good way of preventing ‘download and run’ members. These members join your site, watch or download all your content and then cancel straight away or ask for a refund.

Essentially, it stops people from consuming all your information upfront, then not needing you or your site anymore.

For monthly membership sites, it’s a way of delivering new content each month and providing ongoing value so that your members want to stay longer.

With the drip feeding method, you can create all your content in advance. You could have a year's worth of content dripped out to members without you needing to create additional content each month.

You know that every member – whether they sign up in January or June – will receive the same content in month 3 of their membership and that they will follow a specific path.

It's much more automated than a typical ‘all access' membership model.

Perhaps the most obvious use for drip feeding is with courses.

If you're running a fixed time frame course – for example 8 weeks – then it makes sense to drip this content out to your members weekly in order to keep them engaged and moving through the course. Especially if you're also offering a community or coaching element alongside this and want everyone to be on the same page.

Whether a course or more traditional membership, it’s a good way of avoiding overwhelm if you’re providing a lot of information. It's also a good way of ensuring that members have the time to take action on what they are learning, rather than just moving on to the next piece of information.

Drip feeding also allows you to time your content release with payments.

For a monthly membership site, that's kind of a given. However, if you run a course that allows people to pay in instalments, then using content dripping and having someone's access removed if their payment fails for some reason means that they don't receive all of your content for only a fraction of the cost of those paying the full price.

How does it actually work?

There are two main ways that you could drip feed your content. 

  1. The most typical method is based on time since registration. In this instance, you release your content a set number of days after a member joins. This could be 7 days, 30 days, 90 days, whatever you prefer. Every member who joins will get access to that content on the specified day of their membership, regardless of when they joined. So a member joining in June would receive the same content on day 7 as a member joining in February did.
  2. The other method works based on the first piece of content being released on a set date. For example, say that you are running a course and you want it to start on December 1st, but you want members to be able to join any time between now and that date. You couldn’t use the traditional content dripping method to achieve this, as your members would all have joined at different times; therefore you would be dripping out content to them at different times too. However, what you can do is set your site to release your first module on the 1st September, and then the next module 7 days (or 30 etc) after that. So your members all receive exactly the same content on exactly the same day, even though they joined at different times. At the moment, only certain membership plugins support this type of content drip – Wishlist Member, MemberPress and Digital Access Pass (DAP) being the main 3.

How you actually set up your drip feed will depend on your membership plugin.

Some plugins enable content dripping as standard. For example, MemberPress and DAP both allow you to set the drip schedule when you create your initial content protection rules.

Membership Content Strategy Course

Other plugins such as s2Member offer a shortcode that you ‘wrap around' the content you want dripped. Wishlist Member uses a process called ‘Sequential Upgrade’ requiring you to create a new membership level for each time you want new content to be released (which isn't ideal if you're going to be dripping a lot of content!).

Often, the dripped content is added to your member's account automatically. Your site does this either behind the scenes or when they next login to their account.

However, if this process isn’t working effectively and your new content isn’t being given to members when it should be, then you may need to setup what is called a ‘cron job’ on your hosting. This tells your site to perform certain tasks automatically at certain times.

This sounds a little technical but you can have most hosting providers help you set this up if you need it. Wishlist Members is the main membership plugin where you may need this.

Whilst each plugin will have a different way of setting up your content drip, they will usually explain how in their set up instructions. It's often a simple process of just selecting the day you want to release your content.

Not all membership plugins offer a content dripping option, so if it's something you would like to do, ensure that you choose a membership plugin that allows for this.

When would you not drip feed content?

Drip feeding your content definitely has its benefits and can be a great tool for aiding both retention and engagement with your content. However, it's certainly not ideal for every site.

If you're selling a standalone course, often you will want to deliver all that content at once, especially if it's a one time payment (and especially if your members are likely to be impatient, like me!).

Similarly, if your membership or course contains content that people are likely to want to consume at their own pace, offering everything upfront can work well.

And for all-access ‘library' sites consisting of lots of different courses or content, ongoing content release may work better than dripped content. This is particularly true if you have a community where people will be discussing the content too. It can be a little frustrating if members are discussing content that you don't have access to yet!

For our own Membership Academy we opted not to use drip feeding and to regularly release new content instead.

With our site, there isn't a set programme for people to follow. It doesn't provide an A-Z path, rather lots of separate courses. Members are all at different stages in their journey and needing different information. Providing a library of content and courses made more sense so that members can jump in and make use of what they need, when they need it.

There wasn't really any logical drip release schedule that would work for our members.

The fact that we still provide regular new content means we continuously add value for our members, as with drip feeding, but this allows for a more flexible release schedule.

This is a similar approach to other sites like Digital Marketer. When you're offering a lot of different courses or topics in one membership, drip feeding that content can actually do you a disservice, as people are joining for access to all the different information.

Whether you decide to drip content or not, the important thing, with a monthly membership site at least, is to ensure that you are providing something that offers value each month. Whether that's new content, a live call, or simply a buzzing community, make sure it's there.

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