Whether your membership business is in the planning stage or it’s already launched, you’re probably wondering about the best ways to engage your members and keep them coming back (and paying you) over time.
No matter where you are in your membership business journey, staying informed on the marketing front can help you take the right steps to succeed. In this post, we’ll talk about why marketing is so important for membership businesses, some common marketing mistakes, and 10 marketing strategies to boost your membership or subscription business.
We’ll focus on actionable marketing strategies that you can start using right away, so that you can start seeing real results!
Why Marketing is Important for Membership Sites
Marketing plays a crucial role in the success of membership sites. It not only helps to attract new members, but it also boosts engagement and retention among existing ones.
Membership sites can raise awareness, demonstrate their value proposition, and reach a broader audience by leveraging targeted marketing strategies. Plus, these strategies help to nurture a strong brand identity, enhancing trust and credibility with potential members.
Well-executed marketing campaigns ultimately lead to optimized content offerings, better user experience, higher conversions, increased member satisfaction, and long-term business growth.
4 Marketing Mistakes that Membership Site Owners Make
1. Competing on Price Alone
The thing about memberships is that they are all about value—which means that competing on price alone is not exactly the best strategy.
If you want to convince potential members that what you offer is something worth paying for over many months, then your pricing should reflect that value. If you offer something valuable but then charge very little for it, it can confuse potential members, or even convince them that it’s actually not that valuable.
While offering competitive pricing is not a bad thing in general, you should consider how much competition you have as well as how unique your membership offering is before making the choice to compete on price.
Plus, remember that when you compete on price alone, there is nowhere to go but down—especially if new competitors enter the market.
2. Not Giving Anything Away for Free
Another common mistake that membership site owners make is not wanting to give anything away for free. They may believe that they must monetize everything to make their business profitable, but this approach can actually be counterproductive.
By refusing to give away any free content, you could be missing out on potential customers who are hesitant to commit to paying for something they haven’t tried before. There are more reasons to give away free content, which we’ll cover in the next section.
3. Prioritizing Acquisition Over Retention
“Depending on which study you believe, and what industry you’re in, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.” –Harvard Business Review
While new customer acquisition is important for any business, it’s especially critical for membership sites to focus on member retention. As the Harvard Business Review quote suggests, it can be significantly more expensive to acquire new members than to retain existing ones.
But beyond the financial benefits, retention is key to the long-term success of a membership site. Members who stick around for the long-term are more likely to refer others to your site, provide valuable feedback, and contribute to the overall community.
Plus, loyal members are more likely to upgrade to higher membership tiers, which can lead to increased revenue for your business. By focusing on member retention, membership site owners can create a stable, engaged community that provides ongoing value for both the members and the business.
4. Not Personalizing or Customizing
Another mistake that membership site owners can make is not personalizing their marketing efforts to the specific needs of different audience segments or customizing marketing messages for different channels and formats. For example, what works on Facebook may not work on LinkedIn, and vice versa.
Membership site owners may also be tempted to send the same sales messages to their existing logged-in members as they do to potential members, which can be off-putting and make current members feel like they’re being sold to.
Without personalizing or customizing marketing efforts, membership site owners can’t be sure that they’re reaching the right people at the right time with the right message.
PMPro Tip: Use the membership required block or other logic to hide salesy stuff.
10 Marketing Strategies to Boost Your Membership or Subscription Business
1. Offer Free Content
Giving away free content can be a powerful marketing strategy for membership sites. By offering a taste of what your site has to offer, you can entice potential members to join and see the full value of your service.
Free content can also help to establish your brand as a trusted authority in your industry, and build trust with your audience over time. By providing valuable resources and insights for free, you can demonstrate your expertise and create a loyal following of customers who are more likely to stick around for the long-term.
The best part? Giving away free content is easy to do. For example, you could simply offer your most basic content as free content. Or, you could give away limited sections of content or samples for free.
To learn more, check out our post How Free Content Will Help You Boost Sales.
2. Offer Premium Content
Offering premium content is an effective marketing strategy because it allows you to appeal to certain subsets of your audience who are looking for something more exclusive and valuable. Just as free content can help you attract new members, premium content can help you retain existing members and provide them with additional value that they can’t find elsewhere.
Plus, it can also help you differentiate your business from competitors and establish your membership site as a go-to source for high-quality, exclusive content in your niche.
We wrote a whole post on how to leverage premium subscription services for membership growth, where we talk about how to increase your profits by allowing your members to upgrade to a premium experience.
If you’re wondering what to offer as premium content, it can be as simple as offering an ad-free experience, access to your most in-demand content, or exclusive discounts on products or services. Just remember that it’s important to identify what your audience values most, so you can create an offering that aligns with their needs and interests.
Premium content can help your membership site generate more revenue. Since it’s exclusive and valuable, members are often willing to pay a premium price to access it. Plus, when members upgrade, their engagement and loyalty to your site naturally increases as well.
Want to create a membership business built around premium content? You might also be interested in reading our post 8 Sites You Can Build With a Premium Content WordPress Plugin.
3. Use Tiered Pricing
Another proven marketing strategy for membership sites is using tiered pricing. This taps into the psychology of consumer behavior and can increase your revenue potential.
The idea behind tiered pricing is to offer different membership levels with varying degrees of access and benefits, so that potential customers can choose the level that best fits their needs and budget. This can be an effective way to appeal to a wider range of customers and increase conversions, since people are often more likely to purchase something that’s tailored to their specific needs and preferences.
The beauty of tiered pricing is that it’s relatively easy to implement, especially with the help of membership site software like that’s designed to handle different pricing tiers.
To get started, you’ll need to decide what content, product, or service you want to sell and what different levels of membership you want to offer. This could include basic, premium, and VIP levels, for example, each with increasing levels of access and benefits.
It’s important to note that the content, product, or service you decide to sell needs to be of value to the paying member. You should do research to find out what your competitors are charging and decide what you can charge based on the value that you provide.
We offer more membership pricing advice in our post How to Price a Membership Site. We also talk about some different pricing factors in this video:
Video: How Much Should You Charge for Your Membership Site?
Once you believe in the worth behind the value in your product, you can stand by it, even if it is criticized for being “too expensive”. You will be surprised how your target market would rather pay a little more if they know you care about your value and business.
4. Market the Real-World Benefits of Your Membership
Focusing on the real-world benefits that your membership offers is a high-impact marketing strategy because it creates an emotional connection with the customer—and this keep them coming back.
While features are important, it’s the real-world benefits that provide the greatest value to the customer because these benefits improve their lives. This could include anything from saving time or money, to learning new skills or connecting with like-minded individuals.
By identifying the real-world benefits of your membership site, you can create a strong value proposition that resonates with your target audience and inspires them to become members.
Another benefit to focusing on real-world benefits is that it’s easier to communicate value to the customer. While features can be hard to explain or quantify, real-world benefits are tangible and relatable.
Highlight how your membership site improves lives in one way or another in order to create a clear and compelling value proposition that sets you apart from your competitors. For example, if your membership site provides resources and support for freelancers, you could focus on how it helps them to build their skills, find new clients, and increase their income.
5. Capture Customer Details on Signup
Building a contact list is essential if you want to establish a direct line of communication with your customers. This is why capturing customer details is crucial for any business that wants to grow and thrive over time.
One effective way to do this is to offer a compelling lead magnet, such as a free eBook or guide, in exchange for an email address. This provides an incentive for customers to sign up and gives you permission to contact them with future marketing messages.
Note that requiring a double opt-in on signup helps to ensure that each subscriber intended to sign up, and reduces the likelihood that they’ll mark your messages as spam or unsubscribe from your list.
Email is an essential direct marketing channel that can be used to send members enticing information about your business and anything new you have to offer. Whether it’s promoting new content, sharing exclusive offers, or providing helpful tips and resources, email marketing continues to be a valuable way to reach your customers and build a strong relationship with them over time.
6. Offer Membership Refunds and Cancellations
One of the best ways to reduce the risk that potential members perceive when signing up for your membership is to offer refunds and give members the option to cancel at any time. No one wants to feel like they’re being forced to receive or listen to information, so by offering the option to cancel at any time, or at least making it feel like it’s not a “forever” commitment, you can increase membership sign-ups.
This is especially important for recurring subscriptions, where customers may be hesitant to commit to a long-term relationship with your business. By offering the option to cancel at any time, you can give these customers the peace of mind they need to take the leap.
A generous refund and cancellation policy also helps you to focus on the members who do want to hear what you have to offer. While it’s never ideal to lose a customer, it’s important to remember that not everyone will be a good fit for your membership site.
By allowing customers to cancel at any time, you can ensure that you’re focusing your resources and attention on the members who are truly engaged. Plus, you can demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction and build trust and credibility with your audience.
7. Take Advantage of Content Marketing
Content marketing is a powerful marketing strategy for membership sites because it helps to increase your value as a brand and establish you as an authority in your niche.
By creating and sharing valuable content that helps your audience solve problems and achieve their goals, you can build trust and credibility with your target audience and differentiate yourself from your competitors. Whether you’re sharing blog posts, podcasts, videos, or social media updates, content marketing is a way to provide value to your audience and establish a strong relationship with them over time.
Leverage Efficient Content Creation Tools and Strategies
While content marketing can require some time and skill, there are plenty of free resources available to help you. From free graphic design tools like Canva to AI chatbots like ChatGPT, there has never been a lower barrier to entry when it comes to content creation.
Looking to start creating graphics, videos, and voice content for your membership site? This cheatsheet shares the top 10 free tools we use to create rich media at PMPro. Use these tools to create rich media content like PDFs, commercials, audiograms, blogs, social graphics, and more.
Even if you don’t have a lot of resources or expertise, there are several strategies you can use to create compelling content that resonates with your audience. For example, you can use batch creation to create a lot of content at once, allowing you to spread it out over time and maintain a consistent presence. You can also repurpose existing content, such as turning blog posts into videos or infographics, or you can leverage user-generated content by encouraging your members to share their own stories and experiences on your site or tag your social media accounts.
Just remember that it’s important to diversify your content formats if you want to reach people with different preferences. Some of your audience may prefer written content, while others may prefer audio, video, or graphic content.
We have a series of articles on the topic of content marketing—and we followed our own advice in point 8 to”narrow it down” into a few distinct posts. Here is some continued reading for you to explore related to content marketing:
- Getting Started with Content Marketing on Your Membership or Subscription Site
- Content Marketing for Membership and Subscription Sites
- The Paid Memberships Pro Membership Content Strategy
- Quality vs. Quantity: Content Marketing Strategies for Membership and Subscription Sites
- 6 Major Benefits to Repurposing Content for Your Membership Site
- Webinar: How to Repurpose Content for Your Membership Site
8. Diversify Your Marketing Channels
If you want to reach a wider audience and reduce your reliance on any one channel or platform, you should diversify the marketing channels you use. By using a variety of different channels, such as email marketing, social media, search engine optimization, paid advertising, and content marketing, you can reach potential customers wherever they are and increase the likelihood that they’ll discover your membership site.
This can help to increase your visibility, build your brand, and attract new members over time.
This strategy also helps to reduce your risk and provide a safety net in case one channel experiences a problem or declines in effectiveness. For example, if your main marketing channel is social media and the platform changes its algorithm or you experience a drop in engagement, this could have a negative impact on your membership site. However, if you’re also using email marketing and paid advertising, you can mitigate the impact of any one channel experiencing issues.
9. Be Authentically YOU
While other businesses may offer similar products or services, they can’t compete with what makes your membership site unique: you. By sharing your voice, your experience, and connecting with your audience authentically, you can differentiate you from your competitors and establish a personal connection and strong sense of community with your audience.
Sharing your personal experience and making yourself available can help members identify with you and your brand, creating a sense of loyalty and increasing the likelihood that they’ll stick around. Just remember to find a balance; While it can be tempting to share everything, it’s important to be mindful of your boundaries and only share what you’re comfortable with.
That being said, connecting with your audience authentically can help to make you feel more approachable and relatable, which can make your membership site feel more welcoming and accessible. Identify where your members are most likely to interact with your brand, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or another platform. By focusing your efforts on the platforms that resonate most with your audience, you can build a strong presence and increase engagement with your members over time.
Experimentation is crucial for businesses in general, but this is especially true for content-driven membership sites. Running experiments allows you to test different approaches and identify what works best for your audience.
Whether you’re trying out new marketing channels, testing different pricing strategies, or experimenting with new content formats, running experiments allows you to gain valuable insights and make data-driven decisions. By analyzing the results of your experiments, you can refine your approach over time and optimize your marketing strategy for maximum impact.
In addition to helping you identify what works best for your audience, it also helps to keep your marketing strategy fresh and engaging. Trying new things and changing up existing approaches can keep your members interested and engaged. After all, keeping members engaged and motivated is key to long-term membership success.
Which Marketing Strategies Will You Choose?
Hopefully this post has given you some food for thought when it comes to marketing your membership site. While there are plenty of marketing strategies out there, this list is a good starting point, especially if you’re bootstrapping your membership business or you aren’t sure what to do next.
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