Ready to expedite your membership growth rate? We have created and executed plans for people to grow their online subscription businesses past $500k+/year in revenue. During the course of growing membership sites, we have come to realize 4 main aspects that most membership sites can focus on in their marketing plan to bring more members to their website quickly.
We boiled down our best membership growth strategies into four main topics: Website sales funnel, SEO, PPC, and Social Media. You most likely already have some of these ideas implemented – but check to see if theres anything you can improve upon with your own site. By the time you finish optimizing these 4 marketing strategies with your own membership website, you’ll have a passive, automatic revenue generating machine.
Let’s get started.
How To Market Your Membership Website
Optimize Your Website Sales Funnel
The ‘sales funnel’ of your website, or the steps a user takes between first landing on your site and making the membership purchase, should be the first focus of your marketing plan for membership growth. This will make sure that your users are engaged and on the correct path.
Ensure your users are following a logical path down your website which will ultimately lead to your sales page – so users can directly see what benefits they will receive, and are in the position to make the purchase. Your sales page should be somewhere obvious on your website, and you should generally lead users here as an end goal. Make sure there are no dead ends on your website. Once a user gets done absorbing one of your blog posts or informative articles, where do they go next? Lead them to either another useful piece of content at the bottom of the page, an opt-in for your sales list, or a link towards the sales page where they can get started with more. The worst thing we want is for a member to read your article, enjoy it, but leave the website directly after the article ends because there is no call to action.
Refining this funnel is important for getting the highest conversions possible on your sales, and is important for keeping the attention of users when they reach your site.
Google Analytics: shows you what pages new users land on your website, and the specific pages they take in the following steps. This is great for understanding what your existing natural funnel is you can implement improvements.
Here are our top membership growth strategies to bring new users to your website:
SEO Marketing Strategy
Search engine optimization is our favorite marketing strategy for membership growth. SEO is a low cost, but long term strategy. You might not see the fruits of your labor immediately, but months down the road focusing on SEO will provide you with a reliable stream of potential customers on your website. This is because over time as you grow your articles & content, Google recognizes your expertise and puts you on the first page for related keywords to your content.
Implementing SEO alongside the content you are producing is one of the best ways to directly reach your desired audience.
The first step is determining if SEO is a viable strategy for your specific membership industry. We need to find out what people are searching for online who might be interested in your membership. Start by brainstorming a list of potential keywords:
- Things you might have Googled before and already researched about
- Things you are wondering yourself
- Related topics you already have knowledge in
- Related Keywords Ideas from friends/family
Once you have a solid list of atleast 10 different keywords, use a keyword volume tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush to see the monthly search volume for these terms.
We reccomend using either SEMrush or Ahrefs for keyword research.
Here’s an example:
Searching for ‘how to invest in rental property’ shows us the monthly search volume and some keyword ideas we could base an article around if we were targetting the real estate topic for our membership site.
For example, the main keywords for this article are: How to market a membership website, marketing plan for membership growth, and membership growth strategies. By first confirming there is actually some search volume for these terms I was able to validate my idea for this piece of content and be confident that people would be interested in it and want to find it.
Start to develop your content plan based off what keywords have monthly search volume, and what you can realistically write about or make videos about. Group similar keywords into groups, so you can encompass multiple keywords within one piece of content while reaching a larger audience.
We recommend putting together 5-10 ideas of different piece of content so you have a solid content roadmap of related topics to create. This content plan will help keep you on track for developing content that is desired. If you create 10 different keyword-targetted articles, atleast one is bound to become ranked in Google and produce long term traffic for you.
Now that you have an idea for what types of content to create, and what keywords you are targeting, its time to go ahead and use your creative juices to create something great!
On Page SEO
Once you have your post created, its time to make sure that you are ‘optimized’ for the search engines. This is the part where you do small tweaks to the page to include your targeted keyword to ensure that Google sees your page is all about that keyword.
Here are our best practices for SEO
- Include keyword written in the post 1-3 times
- Input Image within the page with the file name matching your keyword
- Put keyword in URL slug (yoursite.com/keyword)
- ‘Internal Linking’ link from some posts to your other posts, including the keyword as the anchor text of the link
- Bonus: Upload and embed a Youtube video with your keyword in the title of the video
This is also a good time to make sure the flow of your page works well and keeps users engaged. One of Google’s ranking factors is how long a cold user stays on your page and absorbs information before hopping off.
Off Page SEO
Off Page SEO involves building links and creating buzz around the internet for your website. A major determiner for Google for ranking your page is how many other websites are linking to it. This shows Google that your page is interesting and valuable enough for other people to share and link to – meaning it will probably be valuable for additional people as well.
Social media is another organic way of generating growth for your membership website. This is a better method if you are creative and can build attention-grabbing social media posts. Build content across Facebook, Instagram, etc, that your audience would find valuable and interesting. If your social media content is good enough, it will naturally get shared and generate buzz for you. Its good to keep in mind that most of time when posting media on a fresh account, it takes time to really start generating buzz. Don’t be surprised if you post for many weeks with not much attention. For this reason, we use Social Media moreso to show people that we are active and alive.
Buffer/Auto posting: Instead of manually posting your social media content once a day, you can queue up your social media posts using buffer. This means you could theoretically creating your entire social media schedule for the next month over the course of a couple days, and not have to worry about it for another month.
Social media tools: there are some tools which will automatically like & follow posts/accounts based off hashtag or term. If you wish, you can set these up for your own business to automatically interact with people in your general audience. If you set this up to run automatically in combination with queuing your social media posts in advance, you can essentially creating an automated ‘social media marketer’ that most brick and mortar businesses otherwise pay someone to do hourly.
Paid Ads (Facebook, Google, Youtube)
Pay per click advertisements involve having your Ad placed somewhere and paying directly for each ‘click’ or user to your site. While PPC is a widely popular means of marketing online, but it can actually be quite costly if you don’t know what you’re doing. Thousands of other businesses are also bidding on keywords, driving the price up. It’s hard to pay more than a couple dollars per click when you only have a $50-$300 product, since most clicks don’t actually end up converting.
For this reason, we recommend to start marketing your membership website using social media or SEO since these methods are much cheaper. If you are ready to dip into PPC, we reccomend starting with one platform and mastering that platform before moving on – each PPC platform has a different strategy to approach it.
Retargetting: This feature of PPC on youtube is awesome. You can capture people who have interacted with your channel and retarget them with a YT advertisement. This rocks because they have already seen one of your videos so are somewhat familiarized with your brand. When they see your advertisement, they will be more inclined to click through to your website than a cold lead would.This PPC method is one of the first we would recommend implementing in your marketing plan because its extremely high value for the cost. We always maximize our Youtube retargetting ads with our membership sites to reach as many people as possible who have found our videos previously through Google or Youtube (thanks to SEO!).
Google Adwords is often competitive for keyword costs, unless you are in a niche category where you can find highly converting keywords for your business at a reasonable cost. This method will take a lot of trial and error to find the correct keywords and advertisements to be worth it for your business. Once you have an expendable budget and are okay with temporarily taking some losses for awhile, you can go ahead and dip into Google Adwords to see if there is any benefit for your business. Based off the high cost per click per keyword, its often hard to be significantly profitable with Google Adwords – we personally focus more on SEO because we can get a better return on both our money and time long term.
This is another realm of PPC we recommend focusing on separately from Adwords, since the platforms are so different. FB advertising is geared more towards audiences and targeting specific types of people, while Adwords is more targeting on choosing specific keywords.
If you know of a Facebook group, page, or demographic that would fit in perfectly with your membership website, consider creating an advertisement that directly targets these groups. For getting a good ROI on Facebook advertisements, we would advise to stay very detailed and niche specific with your ad targeting – pick and choose specific audiences that will enjoy your brand. If you target too broadly on Facebook, your message won’t get in front of the people you want it to.
Facebook can be a hit or a miss with advertisements, just like Adwords, and takes some time and investment before discovering the profitable worthwhile advertisements for your business.
Membership Growth Strategies
1. Affiliate System
Set up an affiliate system to incentivise your members and other internet marketers to get get customers for your membership website, without you actually having to do any manual work to get these customers.
15% – 35% is a normal revenue cut you can provide to affiliates – of course depending your your specific business. Whereas a lower affiliate cut might make sense for some memberships – A higher percentage cut will better inventivise affiliate marketers to get into your affiliate program and overall build your membership website quicker.
The membership platform you use will determine what affiliate system you can use. Most affiliate systems ultimately do the same thing – so just find the system that integrates with your membership website and set it up.
2. Free Trial
This one might be obvious – but consider creating a free tier for your membership site where users can sign up and try it out before making any purchase commitments.
When setting this up make sure to create the Free Trial period so that users will automatically get charged once their trail period runs up.
This way, you can get people in the door with your membership, and if they like it enough, they will naturally stick around afterward, creating that recurring monthly revenue for you.
3. Create External Buzz for your site
Marketing Plan for Membership Growth
Now that you have a general idea of the marketing strategies you can implement to build a successful membership website, here’s a step by step marketing plan you can use to make sure you are building your business efficiently.
1. Create valuable articles and videos around your topic
- Begins ranking your content for SEO
- Generates buzz around your brand
2. Optimize your website optins/email capture
- Make sure you are building your audience of people who might be interested in your brand
- Offer free PDF/training in exchange for email
3. Optimize your membership platform and funnel
- Create sales page where users can sign up
4. Implement external marketing plan for membership growth
- Social media posts highlighting your membership website
- Paid Advertisements
- Strengthen website SEO
5. Add additional member growth strategies
- Once your site is up and operational, implement more strategies to scale your growth rate.
- Affiliate System
- Free Trial