If you are engaged in the info business for quite a long time, then sooner or later you thought about creating a website with paid access or membership policy.
Surely, you imagined how cool it is when sales of your member space occur regularly, month after month, regardless of whether you are running an ad or not. And at this time you are doing your favorite things: relaxing, spending time with your family, having fun. Memberships are good because you get rid of hopes for next month’s sales, and instead, get confidence in guaranteed monthly sales. But since everything is so good, then why are there so few quality membership sites? In this article, we will explain how to create a truly effective membership website. We will figure out what points you should pay attention to both from a technical point of view and from the point of view of promotion and marketing.
Here's a fact: large companies, such as Adobe, Microsoft, and Apple, deliberately switched from selling "piece by piece" to monthly memberships or subscriptions. Amazon, Google, Netflix, and others did the same. Why did they switch to a subscription model?
Because they realized that making a recurring sale is as easy as selling something once. The same customer will happily spend money on your product every month until it gives him results. And in the long run, this is a more profitable, more reliable and more stable business model.
Before you find out how to create a membership website, you should know why people enter into it.
Here are 4 main reasons:
Satisfying current need or needs. This is the situation when people depend on your content. This is the most powerful type of membership. For example, there is a pastor who has his own community. In it, he prepares and publishes Sunday sermons for members every week.
Mastering skills, obtaining new knowledge. Everything is simple here. People want to get new knowledge for some purpose. The main thing is that this knowledge be presented in a convenient form. Surely, you know that an abundance of knowledge only leads away from the result. Therefore: it is better to give less knowledge in a simpler form than to give a lot of complex information. And this approach should be taken into account when developing the site functionality.
Therefore, let’s understand what type of content you may provide to your users. This is important since you will think through the functionality of the future site. So, what content should be given to participants so that there is no overload and it is convenient to consume it? Let's proceed from 4 main reasons for joining the subscription website.
Community, communication, common interests. Members come to memberships for content but remain because of the community. And inside it is important to organize an environment in which each member will feel comfortable.
Entertainment. Like it or not, this will be the site with the lowest retention. Because there are so many opportunities for entertainment, but nothing else holds users.
Analyze these reasons and think about what you could give to your members. Hint! It is not necessary that users join your community for one reason only.
In the most general form, the membership websites are divided into commercial and non-commercial.
Commercial membership sites imply a paid subscription. Most often, the creators of such sites offer very useful content in the form of a series of articles, webinars, or practical guides. This approach is popular in niches of self-development, business development, or investing. As we said, users will pay for content as long as it has value to them. As for the basic functionality of such a site, this includes
In addition, the membership site may be non-commercial. This is a kind of interest circle. For example, this could be a club for golf or horse riding enthusiasts. The main goal of creating such a site is not even the provision of quality content. The goal is to find and hold together members of a particular group, united by common interests.
The main functions of this site are identical to the commercial. However, the admin panel features are usually limited to the functions of adding content. Since the site is non-commercial, the subscription form is missing. Very often, the payment system is also built-in, but this means making a charitable contribution to the development of the club. For example, if a web site unites volunteers that help stray animals, any user who visits the site may donate a small amount to support the shelter.
Top membership sites were created in different ways. If to analyze membership websites examples, it is possible to find out that some of them were created with the help of Wordpress, some use website builders, and others were created completely from scratch with the help of professional developers.
The beauty of Wix lies in the fact that in a short time, an ordinary PC user, even without knowing the “basics” of an elementary layout, not to mention programming and Web technologies, is able to create his own website with the original design. All features of the designer are intuitive and accessible for instant use by the average user. The service offers a wide field of activity for individual settings and page layout so that each site created in the system is unique.
It is due to the ease and simplicity of creating a site from scratch, this service is highly popular, despite the functionality somewhat clamped within certain limits.
One more positive point is that all templates are available for free use and do not require a Premium account.
Of course, you get a fairly powerful site. However, all the necessary functions for the membership site, like registering, adding or deleting users, payment system, can be implemented only through WixAppMarket.
Wix is one of the most popular tools to create a website of any specialization. Of course, you will be able to realize the functionality of membership with its help. However, be prepared that you will need a lot of time to find, integrate and set the features you need.
Wild Apricot is not just a subscription website builder. This is a complete application, both for administrators and for members of a particular community. The main advantage is that it is possible to try the solution for free for 30 days.
You get a ready-made admin panel that allows you to accept applications, remove and add group members, provide content, accept payments and create events.
This is all the functionality that can be implemented. But there is a positive point - from the technical side, you do not need to do anything, except to install the application.
This is almost the only tool created especially for membership websites developments. Choose it if you are ready to pay for it instead of the time you need to spend doing everything on your own.
Deciding to use the GoCentral platform to create a site, the next thing you need to do is select a template. GoDaddy templates are provided free of charge. You can choose from 50 to 300 different styles depending on the premium plan. GoCentral templates are organized in 20 categories, ranging from Education to Entertainment and Restaurants to Real Estate. There is no template specially created for the membership websites. But there are opportunities for the complete redesign of ready-made templates. You can simply add the necessary blocks to your pages.
GoCentral prices may be among the lowest. However, the company is notorious for trying to sell customers products and services that are sometimes not needed at all. So be careful when purchasing an additional plugin and feature.
The choice of ready-made templates is very diverse. We are sure that you will be able to find something 90% suitable and add specific features to it.
As in many other similar services, the initially selected template can be changed by 90%. Therefore, the main question that you need to decide when choosing a theme is the location and presentation of the navigation menu. Only this element of a particular design cannot be changed. Therefore, choosing the template from your membership website, try to find the one that will already contain the main options you need.
However, there is a function that will be very convenient for the site implying a form of subscription. The Promote marketing tool has been implemented here, using which you can automatically send registered messages to registered users, as well as view and analyze detailed statistics about the reaction to your messages.
Features free package has a number of not very pleasant limitations. The most significant of them is a purely symbolic amount of disk space. But still, even the basic functions allow an unprepared user to create their own cute website with average functionality in a fairly short time.
If you still have an issue with the promotion of your membership website, it will be easier to do it with the help of the Promote function. So, choose it if you need to be in touch 24/7 with your subscribers.
Like all previous solutions, except Wild Apricot, this is not a pure membership site software. However, the functionality of the platform is quite diverse and powerful. The structure of the system is such that you can replace content on the fly, add/remove blocks, adapting any of the templates to your theme and purpose.
The system is suitable for beginners and those who are engaged in the creation of sites on a professional level. The designer is very affordable, easy to learn and extremely effective. Moreover, the developers monthly update the functionality.
And there is also a very cool thing, which is ideal for sites with limited access. Remember we said that users will pay for content while it has real value for them?
And now let's add a bit of marketing theory and remember how the fear of missing a profitable offer subconsciously pushes users to perform targeted actions. It is for this purpose that you can add an additional function to your site - this is a countdown timer.
Perhaps this is one of the most effective ways to motivate to make a purchase or order a service that marketers were able to come up with. Ukit allows you to connect the countdown module to increase the number of your subscribers several times over several days.
It is very easy to use.
The countdown times will be great to motivate users who visited your website for the first time.
As well as with other technologies, your opportunities will be limited to the ones offered by uKit.
Choosing this platform, we strongly recommend adding the countdown timer as well.
Any website builder should be judged by several key characteristics:
Many web services allow you to create different types of sites, but, to be honest, the priority is usually some one or two (business card and blog, for example). The rest look like additional functionality that can be used to solve simple tasks.
The most popular types of business sites are landing sites, business cards and, of course, online shopping platforms.
The approach to their creation differs radically. It is not surprising that there are many platforms on the market that are adapted exclusively for the creation of online stores. There are also solutions that are able to cope with both tasks more or less decently. Not equally good, but still at a level that is able to meet the requirements of the average user.
We have reviews five of the most powerful technologies. With the help of any of them, you will be able to create any solution you need. But, as for a membership website, the only tool that covers all the features is the Wild Apricot. So, if you do not want to spend your time on technical issues and pay all your attention to your marketing strategy, you are free to choose it.
However, if you still have time and desire to do everything independently, we recommend choosing Wix. Thousands of entrepreneurs who have already created a site using this tool, and are satisfied with the result, can not be wrong at the same time. The main thing that you need to think ahead is how the functions that you want to implement will fit your marketing strategy. You can create the coolest member site with Wix, but this will not work without a comprehensive marketing strategy.