How to Avoid Overwhelming your Members
Memberships are content-rich places which, mostly, have a consistent stream of new content added to them.
This is great because you’re providing lots of value to your members… but where is the line between providing value and creating overwhelm?
When members are overwhelmed, they’re more likely to slip behind and when they’re more likely to slip behind, they’re more likely to stop being a long-term member.
So, it’s important to factor preventing overwhelm into your content strategy.
Doing so could be the difference between a membership full of long-term evangelists and a half-full membership with lots of “what could have been” stories.
Too much new content feels like running on a treadmill that’s only getting faster, but too little new content feels like you’ve paid for Disneyland and received a bouncy castle in the park.
How do we walk the line between too little and too much content, and how do we factor in quality?
Let’s get into it…
Three different types of membership overwhelm
Before we get into fighting overwhelm, we need to know what we’re dealing with!
There are three major types of overwhelm we encounter most often with membership site owners:
- Content overwhelm – when people feel there is too much content and it is being released too frequently. New members have no clear idea of where to start, when to complete a course or tutorial, where to go to next, or the order they need to consume your content in.
- Engagement overwhelm – demanding too high a level of engagement from your members. This could be from the amount of participatory content you create (live calls, daily logins), misunderstanding how much time your members have, community overwhelm (especially if your community seems cliquey), or communication (daily emails or notifications).
- Technical overwhelm – if your website has a high technical barrier (whether real or perceived). This could be down to multiple login sites, a high learning curve for some features, or it may simply be that the technical competencies of your audience are either very basic or non-existent, or your website lacks clear navigation.
How do you overcome these issues, then?
The four ways to tackle membership overwhelm
Now we can name and explain the problem, it’s time to find some solutions.
In helpfully alliterative style, there are four ‘S’s you can focus on to knock back any worries of overwhelm from your membership.
These are: system, structure, scheduling, and segmentation.
System (the technical side of things)
The platforms you choose for delivering your membership content and running your community are key in helping to avoid overwhelm.
For example, Facebook groups are not great for anything other than chit-chat and community conversation.
Facebook groups aren’t the place for high-value, long-term content, but are perfect for building your community.
Even better, though, is having everything under one roof, as much as you can.
Everything in one place makes life so much easier for you and your members.
The more platforms you have to juggle, the more your members have to remember, the more your members have to learn, the more confusing it is to piece everything together, and the less your members are likely to stick around.
Keep everything simple and keep as much as possible under one roof.
Structure (content and membership)
Pathways or roadmaps work very well for the types of memberships that help members go through a set process or achieve a certain outcome.
If it can fit to a given structure/roadmap/step-by-step guide, you should fit your membership content to it!
This is a great way to structure your content in a way that makes sense and makes it easy for members to focus on the right things at the right time.
It is your responsibility to provide a clear starting point both within your membership content and within your community.
If you have people joining at different levels or with different interests, identify what would be the best piece of content for them to start with and then highlight it, point them in the direction of it in their new member onboarding process, and set them up on their way to success.
Your membership on-boarding process ideally should include some prompts for getting started in your community.
Things like introduction threads and a coaching log or progress log are great ways to get people started with interaction.
Take care of your members in those initial stages of their time with you so that they’re not left trying to figure it all out by themselves.
Scheduling (content and consistency)
We generally recommend releasing no more than one new piece of content per week on average.
Any more than that and you increase the chances that people will feel like there’s always something new coming out and that they don’t have time to keep up with it all.
Try to maintain consistency with the new content that you’re adding to your membership.
If you can build up a pattern that people know (new content is released every Monday, for example) you won’t give that impression of sporadic, stressful bursts of content.
Predictability is a great tonic for overwhelm.
Quality in terms of your content is far more important than quantity.
If you want someone to pay you on an ongoing basis, you need to deliver value on an ongoing basis.
But don’t mistake this for a numbers game.
Ultimately, delivering value isn’t about putting out the most content in your market, it’s about putting out the most valuable content in your market.
And if you are publishing reams of content every week, the quality will inevitably suffer. That’s even worse!
If someone does try to break through the tide of your content to find that it’s really subpar and unhelpful, they’re now going to be dissatisfied and overwhelmed!
Who’s going to pay to feel that way?!
Consistent quality content beats quantity and frequency every single time.
Other top tips for scheduling:
- If your membership is based on a single epic course, consider modular releases or drip-feeding to ensure that people are fed your content bit by bit and focused on the essentials at any given time, rather than seeing it all at once and thinking they have a mountain to climb
- Monthly themes can really help with content overwhelm, too. They bake predictability into your membership and let people know whether or not it’s worth them engaging for the next 4 weeks
- Keeping certain content locked until a certain action/prerequisite has been completed (e.g. a quiz, a checklist, or something else that proves they aren’t skimming the content and going from pillar to post) is a great way of making your content more manageable
Many memberships have key segments and avatars identified within their member base in terms of where members are in their journey, their competencies, and their goals.
If you haven’t… we really recommend having a go!
This will help you structure and deliver your content according to your audience’s segments, so beginners aren’t overwhelmed and experts underwhelmed.
You can allow members to self-segment themselves through surveys.
You can allow them to specifically choose the level they’re at or give you an indication of their experience/understanding and you can fit them into certain profiles.
Alternatively, you can segment your member base by member behaviour metrics.
This way, you can detect who’s falling behind and who’s racing ahead and serve appropriate content to those segments.
Members who are drifting can be set back on course and superfans can be moved through faster.
This is a perfect way of taking decisions out of members hands to prevent overwhelm, as you can show them exactly what they need at any given time and keep them on track.
Preventing your own overwhelm as a membership site owner
We’ve talked all about member overwhelm, but what about when you become overwhelmed?
Some membership site owners find that they end up overburdening themselves with their previous decisions.
Choices such as their membership model, content schedule and engagement level end up ruining their motivation, excitement, and long-term viability.
The bottom line is, nobody wins if you burnout.
Your members don’t benefit from you working yourself into a stupor and you most certainly don’t either.
Your content strategy has to work for you.
The value you that you’re delivering for your members needs to be consistent, but it also needs to be sustainable.
Don’t be your own roadblock by setting standards that are outside of your capability.
We advise you to really think about the structure that works best for you and to remember that your membership is not static. It can change over time to suit you and your membership. Ours certainly has.
So, now you know how to tackle the main causes of member overwhelm, it's over to you to ensure you implement this advice and ensure you're not losing members who find your membership to be too much to handle.