The Proven Process Behind Thousands of Successful Membership Launches
How do you launch a successful membership site?
By following a proven step-by-step process that builds the foundation of your business…
And puts all the tools you need in place to continually attract a stream of new members, and retain them, for a profitable online membership.
So, what exactly is this tried-and-tested process?
It’s called the Membership Roadmap – our proven framework for building a membership business that achieves real, long-term results.
In this article, we'll break down the entire step-by-step pathway we teach within the Membership Roadmap, illustrated with plenty of membership examples along the way.
It all starts by asking yourself the question…
Is a Membership right for you?
Starting a membership isn’t the right option for everyone…
Memberships are a value exchange that require ongoing work.
You need to be able to commit to showing up each month and delivering an exceptional member experience.
As Lisa Leander from Women in Business Education says: “Memberships are not about making money overnight. It’s about consistent growth… it’s about making sure that all my members return next year.”
If you have sellable knowledge, want to bring a community of people together to share your expertise with, and are ready to commit time and energy to being a membership owner, then a membership is highly likely to be a great choice for you.
Once you know it’s the right option for you, you can set an initial goal launch date to give yourself the motivation to begin your membership journey like Sean Wilson from Sean Wilson Piano did: “I had told people ‘I’m starting in May’… so I HAD to start! Membership Academy gave me the foundation of what I needed to start successfully.”
Map out your membership idea
Before you can build your membership, you need to have a good idea of what it will involve, who it’s going to be aimed at, and whether people will actually pay to join.
Here are some questions to answer to start mapping out your membership idea:
- What is the topic that your membership is going to be based on?
- Does an audience exist for your topic?
- Are people paying for similar expertise?
- What are your audience's pain points?
- What is your perfect member profile, such as their demographics, hobbies, goals, and buying habits?
- How will your membership address their goals and problems? Jenny Finnell from CRNA School Prep Academy knew a membership would be the best solution for her members since “things are always changing in the medical field, education is always changing…I had that flexibility with a membership.”
- What motivates someone to join your membership? – Is it to get a specific outcome? Develop a skill? Connect with like-minded people? Get access to specific resources?
Plan Your Membership Offer
The next step of the Membership Roadmap is to put together your membership offer by mapping out your deliverables.
Memberships tend to be made up of what we call the 3C’s – content, coaching, and community.
One of the 3C’s will be your core model, or the star attraction which draws people into your membership.
- Content helps members to reach a goal or outcome through content and resources like courses, workshops, and tutorials. This is the easiest type of membership to scale since there are no limitations to member numbers.
- Coaching offers members support through a transformation via live interactions, such as Q&As, masterminds and hot seats. This type of membership tends to involve smaller numbers, making it harder to scale. However, you may be able to charge a higher price point.
- Community assists members with building connections and fostering relationships over a shared interest with aspects like a community forum, networking calls, and member mixers.
Most memberships will include deliverables from 2 of the 3C’s regardless of which is the core focus (e.g. a content focused membership will often also include a community).
But the most successful memberships include all aspects of the 3C’s for a well-rounded member experience.
There’s no one size fits all since your deliverables will depend on the needs of your audience and what will help them to get the best results, as Scott Baptie from Food for Fitness says “It's trying to find that balance of giving people content so they think ‘okay this is really great value for money' but the value isn’t necessarily the content but the community and support from us.”
Most memberships also include a mix of Core and Complementary deliverables:
- Core deliverables are things like a roadmap, signature course, community hub or content library. It's the star attraction that your members are often first joining for, and that will help them to get their desired result.
- Complementary deliverables are things like monthly workshops or Q&A calls – basically anything that is delivered on a regular basis to either support your core content, provide additional information or help your members to implement what they're learning.
While your core deliverable will often remain the same, your complementary deliverables may change as your membership evolves, so don't worry about getting the perfect mix to begin with!
Once you’ve decided on your core model and deliverables, there are 3 questions to ask yourself:
- Will your deliverables be given to members on a schedule, dripped, or released as required?
- Will you have an open or closed enrolment?
- What will you charge people to join your membership? We recommend having one pricing tier to start with to get an understanding of what access your audience needs.
We take a deep dive into all of these aspects in Membership Academy so you understand the best options for your membership.
Build Your Membership Website
Now it’s time for the exciting part – building your membership website.
If you’re not tech orientated, don’t worry – we have all the step-by-step tutorials you need inside Membership Academy.
Essentially, this stage of the Membership Roadmap involves making decisions on your tech stack so that your website can accept payment, deliver content to your members, and protect your deliverables so that only your members access them.
For most memberships, this will involve either:
- Using a self-hosted website like WordPress with a membership plugin, or
- Using an all-in-one solution from a third party like Kajabi
There are pros and cons to each – again, there’s no one size that fits all as it depends on your individual needs…
Most people tend to overthink this stage, so keeping things straightforward is best as Jim Cooney from Amplified Artists notes: “Having to let go of perfectionism and accepting that things won’t always go the way I envisioned has been a challenge… but I now see the value of starting things simple.”
Create Your Membership Content
Now you’ve built your membership site, you need to add some content!
We suggest having some form of video content in your membership like Art Revenue Coaching’s Josie Lewis puts into practice: “If people are going to be coached by me, knowing that I’m an artist isn’t enough – there has to be more of a connection to my communicating style.”
Not only does video content feel more premium, but it gets people to connect with you on a deeper level…
And if you’re like Josie, who launched a new membership to over 800 members, getting that personal connection is going to help you to encourage your members to stick around.
Alongside video, you can have audio, written and visual content, and downloads for workbooks, swipe files etc…
When planning your content, think about what your first members will receive and what you’ll need to create in your first 90 days.
You may have a Roadmap that gives people step-by-step actions to make progress, a signature course with learning outcomes to help people reach a specific goal, and a training library that can be structured by topic or competency.
Not only is it important to create content for your membership launch, but you should also have a schedule in place for future content too – and we have a 90 day planner inside Membership Academy which helps with this.
Develop Your Membership Marketing Strategy
An effective marketing strategy ensures your membership attracts new members after launch.
This centers around your core sales funnel which turns traffic into leads and leads into sales…
To acquire leads, you ideally need some form of content…
This could be:
- Live streaming on Facebook/Instagram/YouTube
In the beginning, it’s best to choose one of these and go all in…
Just make sure that your content is tailored to the needs of your audience – by doing this, you’ll expand your reach, build trust, and generate traffic to your website..
From here, you can then develop a lead magnet to attract email subscribers…
This could be something like a free or paid challenge…
Christelle Janse van Rensburg of Creative Crafting Club used this strategy to convert 34% of participants into paying subscribers: “One thing we’ve learned…is that people who pay, pay attention.”
Once you’ve started getting people on your email list, you can send them a series of emails packed with value to keep your name at the top of their minds….
This can be valuable tips related to your niche, social proof of your expertise, engagement emails, and direct pitches to your membership.
For your membership launch, you’ll need a sales page to convert your audience into paying members.
Every sales page has a number of key elements:
- An attention-grabbing headline
- Immediate call to action
- A summary of the problem your audience is struggling with
- Introduction of your solution (membership)
- Benefits of your membership
- A little information about you and your expertise
- Highlight specific features of your membership
- Social proof
- Price and call to action
Your sales page can be refined over time, especially as your membership continually evolves and you gain more social proof.
Plan Your Member Retention Strategy
Retention (retaining members) is the lifeblood of a membership site…
And it can be broken down into 3 parts:
- New member onboarding
- Ongoing engagement to help people get better results
- Your retention processes
New member onboarding sets people up for the exceptional experience they’re going to have…
It should show people how to get the most out of your membership, achieve a quick win, as well as remove any tech challenges.
Your onboarding process includes greeting people with a welcome page and delivering an onboarding email sequence giving people the next steps they should take.
We show you how to enhance your member onboarding process and give members the very best experience in Membership Academy.
Effective onboarding also encourages engagement – this is everything from people logging into your site and viewing content, to posting in your community.
The more engaged a member is, the more likely they’re going to stick around.
There are 3 things to do when it comes to member engagement:
- Keep members informed via a weekly email
- Signpost future value of what's to come in your membership with something like an events calendar
- Recognize and reward members for taking action and making progress as Warren McPherson from Piano Lesson with Warren says “A lot of my courses come with quizzes and assignment uploads… there’s nice tracking metrics which really help people to stick around longer.”
Now, when it comes to retention, it’s also vital to have a solid processes in place for handling cancellations as well as dealing with failed payments.
When you have these in place, you'll be able to tackle why people are leaving and prevent things like expired credit cards from affecting your churn rate.
Launch your Membership
Our core membership launch framework is the final step in the Roadmap.
Your membership launch encompasses 3 key stages:
- Pre-launch: lasts 2-6 weeks depending on the size of your audience. This involves raising awareness of yourself, your topic, and your membership, getting your audience excited for the launch, and building a waitlist – something that Layla Pomper from ProcessDriven did to get over 600 members within her membership.
- Launch: typically 5-14 days are spent promoting your launch.
- Post-launch: delivering your membership promise and creating social proof to put into your future content marketing to attract new members.
We go into our full launch strategy in Membership Academy – you’ll discover how to build buzz for your membership, create demand, and keep the momentum going to boost sales throughout your launch period…
You’ll also learn how to create your own launch calendar and timeline so that you have the best launch possible for your membership.
Our Membership Roadmap is the proven path for planning, building, and growing a membership site
Our signature Membership Roadmap within our membership, Membership Academy, takes you from idea to launch within 90 days or less (or longer if needed)…
You’ll make real progress by following a proven step-by-step path…
And avoid time-wasting setbacks..
At the end of the Membership Roadmap, you’ll have a fully launched online membership that has everything in place to achieve real, long-term success.
So, do you want the frustration of trying to figure it out by yourself…
Or do you want an easier way of creating a successful membership?…
Join Membership Academy now and take your first steps on the road to membership success.