Building a cohort membership in WordPress can help you create an engaged community around your brand. But should you create a cohort membership over a standard subscription membership for WordPress? Depending on your goals, a cohort membership may be perfect for your business.

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What is a Cohort Membership?

The phrase “cohort membership” might seem redundant since cohort means group, and the people collected in your membership will also be a group. But in this case, a cohort refers to a specific group within the membership. This cohort is a group of people who have signed up for your membership to achieve the same goal within the same time frame. 

Typically, a cohort works to complete a set curriculum on a specific schedule. They learn the material as a group, and attend live calls or interact on discussion posts together. 

Cohorts sign up in advance and start their coursework at the same time. When the cohort ends, members can stay in their groups or join a larger pool of graduates. This pool could be a separate purchase for your membership, or you could include it in the cost of the initial cohort pricing.

The Benefits of a Group Setting

There are many benefits of a group setting in general and a cohort membership in particular. When building your cohort membership in WordPress, think about how you can maximize these benefits.

Benefits of cohorts include:

  • More customer insight. You’ll actually get to know the people in the cohorts who go through your membership content. You can hear about their struggles and wins and become more aware of their journey, so you can better structure your membership to help them.
  • Member engagement. Because the cohort is a small group, people will get to know one another and will be more likely to interact within the membership.
  • Member accountability. The small group setting and the schedule encourage members of the cohort to complete coursework on time. A cohort membership is less likely to have members who register and disappear.
  • Brand loyalty. As you get to know your members, they get to know you. The content you create for the membership becomes associated with a real human being, and your members will feel a strong sense of loyalty.
  • Referrals. When your members feel loyal to your brand, they’re more likely to mention it to their friends and encourage them to join. Setting up a referral reward program can increase this effect.
  • Revenue. Membership means you will have consistent income through recurring membership payments. This revenue makes it easier for you to predict your profits over time.
  • FOMO. Because your cohort membership will only be open for enrollment for a short time, potential members will be more likely to sign up when they know registration is closing soon.
Infographic for Benefits of Cohorts

Delivering a Valuable Cohort Membership 

Creating a membership for WordPress is all about the value you can offer your members. Not all memberships succeed, but there are specific things you can do to enhance the experience for your members.

Targeted Goals

The ultimate goal for each cohort will be to complete the coursework you’ve created. You can also create mini-goals along the way to keep members engaged. 

Challenges, assignments, quizzes, and engagement prompts with deadlines are great ways to keep your members on task and engaged in the coursework. 

Think about breaking up the big, overarching goal into smaller, bite-sized tasks to keep everyone moving forward.

The bulk of the value your members receive will be during the phase of the cohort where they’re actively working toward the goal. Keep that in mind when designing activities and mini-goals, as well as when you’re pricing.

Fixed Timeframe

Creating a fixed timeframe can keep your cohort on track, and it can prevent any confusion or miscommunication about the expectations you have for the cohort. 

Make it clear when you expect your members to complete their coursework and outline a schedule for the mini-goals or benchmarks you’d like them to hit on their way to achieving the primary goal. 

If your cohort has live calls, make sure the schedule is clear before they sign up, or allow the cohort to vote on the best time for live calls. 

Make this information accessible, and send your cohort reminders about upcoming calls or deadlines. This schedule will help your members not miss anything important.

Extensive Coursework

Once you have the main idea for your course and know the overall goal you’d like your members to achieve, it’s time to design the curriculum. 

Break down the information into modules that focus on the main topic. Break those modules into lessons covering a specific element within that topic. Create assignments or challenges with each module to help reinforce the concepts your cohort is learning. 

Don’t forget that group calls can always be part of the curriculum, and live co-working sessions are great to give your members space to work through the course with some accountability.

Community Features 

The community aspect of membership for WordPress is a selling point to many members. While the information you provide in the course is important, the community helps them stay focused and accountable for finishing it. 

Make sure there are plenty of ways your community can interact within the membership. Discussion forums are great for asynchronous communication, and video calls are excellent for real-time interaction and associating a face with a name. 

The more your cohort gets to know one another, the more engaged they’ll be, and the more likely they’ll be to refer your program to others.

Methods for Delivering Membership Content 

When building your cohort membership in WordPress, it’s important to consider the tools and features you need to deliver your membership content. So before you create your course content, consider how the following features can help you deliver your course to your members:

  • Drip feed. Rather than giving your members all the content at once, a drip feed enables you to give them pieces at a time. This approach also helps members focus on one piece of the content before moving on to the next. You can do this with the Series: Drip-Feed Content Add On for Paid Memberships Pro, for example.
  • Video calls. Chatting with members is a great way to help reinforce the course material and give them space to ask questions. Plus, the whole cohort can attend, so you won’t have to answer the same question via email repeatedly. 
  • Newsletters. Newsletters with reminders about benchmarks and upcoming important dates can help members stay on track. Paid newsletters are actually one of our bigger audience segments here at PMPro.
  • Forums or live chat. Discussion forums are a great way to keep members engaged in the course content—bbPress or BuddyPress, for example. Live chats are also a great way to give members a space to interact with you and each other.
  • Courses. Courses allow you to structure information in a way that makes it easy for your members to learn. Courses can include written, video, or audio content.
Methods for Delivering Membership Content Infographic

These methods for content delivery are all available features with Paid Memberships Pro. If you’d like to see how others have used Paid Memberships Pro for their online memberships, check out this post on how to build an online music membership business or this one on building an online academy for martial arts.

How to Build a Cohort Membership for WordPress

If you think building a cohort membership for WordPress is right for your business, then it’s time to get to work. 

Steps for building a cohort membership:

  • Set up your WordPress site. Before creating the membership, you need a website to hold it all. Purchase a domain, and install WordPress on your self-hosted site. 
  • Install a membership management plugin. Once your site is up, you can install your membership management plugin. Paid Memberships Pro offers tons of features, for free, with pricing and plans to support you no matter how much your membership grows.
  • Determine membership structure. Determine how long the cohort will last, its size, and each cohort’s start and end dates. Thirty days is a good time for a cohort, so your members can focus on the membership for that time but won’t fall behind in the other areas of their lives. Consider how many members you can handle in a cohort at a time without sacrificing the exclusivity of the cohort.
  • Develop content. Developing your course content is labor-intensive because you’ll likely need to write, film, and edit it. But when you finish it, you’ll be able to use it for years.
  • Go live and market. Create a launch plan and sales page to help sell your course. Share on social media and in your newsletter.
  • Revise the model. Once you’ve gone through one iteration of the cohort, it’s time to tweak your content and structure to make the process run more smoothly for you and the members. Ask your members for feedback and keep improving. 

Implementing Your Cohort Membership

Once you build your cohort membership in WordPress, you can implement it in different ways. You may find a method you like and stick with it, or you may try other methods depending on your energy and time. 

Some cohort implementation methods to try:

  • Marketing methods. Consider using the accountability of a cohort as a way to market your course. You can also offer the option to work with a paired peer or give your members access to you in a one-on-one session.
  • Retention methods. Holding onto members is much easier than marketing to new ones. Consider offering a discounted membership rate to cohort graduates to keep them in the membership.
  • Growth strategies. Create an affiliate or referral program from your cohort graduates. Let them advertise your program for you and sell it to their friends and colleagues. 

Let Paid Memberships Pro Help with Your Cohort Membership

In this post, we talked about what a cohort membership looks like, the benefits to your business and members, how to deliver content in your cohort membership, and how to grow it. When you build a cohort membership for WordPress, the right plugin can make all the difference. Sign up with Paid Memberships Pro today and start building your membership.