3 Essentials for Your Membership Site
Some Simplero users lead thriving communities. Others teach what they know via course content that they release over time, or all at once. Many Simpleristas teach and lead by providing a combination of online content and live coaching or other services.
However you structure your membership site, there are some essential first steps that you must do if you want your site to be successful. There are some don't-dos, too, but we'll get to those another time.
We help our users to set up their sites and support them as they grow, so we see inside a lot of different membership sites. The really good ones all have a few things in common.
Think about the First Click
Imagine that you are a new member who has just purchased access to your membership site. You care about the topic and you are excited to be engaging with the content, but you've never 'been here' before and you don't know how it works. What is the first thing you want to know?
The answer will vary for each type of membership site, but it's probably something like 'where is my course' or 'how do I find the community group'. Think about what you promised your members and make SURE they can find it easily. Where do you want them to click first?
Our brains get overwhelmed easily, especially when there is a lot of information (and double especially if that information is in a small font). Think arrows and colors and lots of neutral space so that people don't get confused and frustrated.
(Simplero Secret: We get help tickets from Simplero users who write to tell us that their members can't access their content. Sometimes there's a setting that has been configured incorrectly, but SOMETIMES, the membership site is just confusing the customer. Try not to do this).
You should always test out your new membership site (or the new design of an old site) on a friend or family member who will give you honest feedback. Don't get your knickers in a twist when they tell you something is confusing. You've been living and breathing this site and they haven't (just like your customers). Fix it and move on.
Tell and Show
Some of us like to read, some of us like to watch. And some of us won't do either one - we want to figure it out ourselves (like a toddler pouring their own cereal).
You want the home page of your membership site to work for all these kinds of people. You want to be welcoming and hospitable.
So you also need to think beyond the first click and give people a tour, as if they were visiting your house for the first time. Tell them where everything is (remember, not too much text - neutral space, arrows, graphics!). They need to be able to find the bathroom and know whether or not it is ok to keep their shoes on. ;)
Consider making a short welcome video where you SHOW them as well. They've purchased access to you and your genius, so welcome them 'in person' and show them (via a screensharing tool) where to find what they need. Be sure to highlight the way you want them to get in touch with you or your team if there is anything they need. Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to get started when you are all revved up and ready to go.
Let it Unfold
Despite being the most advanced form of life on the planet, our brains are best at doing just one thing at a time.
If someone joined your site because she was super excited to participate in your forum, she might not really register what you tell her about how the course works. How often does the content get released? Where do I look for my worksheet? Who cares! I want to know what people are talking about now.
So think FLOW. Don't try to tell people everything up front. Let it unfold as they go.
Show them how the main features work and then include instructions (and perhaps more videos) on the main page of each of those features with more details about the details. They won't know what you're talking about until they get there anyway.
Be clear about your goals for the site - if your primary goal is to provide support and community, focus your welcome page and video on the forum and member directory. And then provide more information on the forum's main page that reminds people about the course. Do this even if they can get to the course from the main page. Give people multiple ways to find things and remind them how it works at every stage.
Do all this and you will be amazed at how happy your customers are and how much engagement you get on your forum, blog or course.
Be accessible, be clear, let it unfold and over-communicate.
If your membership site does this, tell us how it works for you in the comments.