Membership Marketing Strategies for Long-Term Growth

When you explore membership marketing strategies, think about your entire funnel. How will you attract, onboard, retain, and engage members?

If you’re not thinking about all of these steps, you’re missing out. But with so many digital marketing tools at your fingertips, organizations today have more capability to measure, monitor, communicate, analyze, and engage with members than ever before.

In order to drive real member engagement, you will need to be more iterative and lean. You will need to adopt a testing method so you can find out what activities and initiatives are working and what are not. And you will need to spend more time on creating content for your members! Quality content.

Content marketing strategy: testing process

However, by focusing small efforts throughout your membership funnel, you can see gains and long-term growth over time.

Create both builder and driver acquisition strategies

Your membership marketing strategies should be spread across two big areas: builders and drivers. What do they look like?

Builder versus drivers - comparison

Builders are activities like creating content, launching new website pages, and rolling out new features. Basically anything around creating and publishing falls here.

Drivers are activities that drive people to you, usually with some budget behind it. For example, running an AdWords campaign, or putting money into LinkedIn for lead generation are drivers. Drivers show an immediate impact of new traffic.

For membership websites, you need both strategies so you can see results right away with accelerated-paid campaigns (driver), while building a longer-term acquisition channel like a blog, newsletter, or certification programs over time (builder). 

Be iterative with your paid campaigns

Launching a paid campaign early on is an excellent way to scale. Very quickly you can learn who your audience is and what makes them click. And you can run tests with messaging and design to get insights.

Analytics View from HubSpot

But one mistake membership websites make is putting all of their budget in one place, or not spending enough to test different channels.

Even if you have a hunch about which paid channel will perform best, you need to test your theory. You don’t need to spend too much money to do this. Start lean with enough budget to last you a week, across at least two paid channels.

Make sure during the testing week you:

  • Build a targeted audience
  • Run at least a few iterations on your ad messaging, design, and other factors
  • Put a daily and overall cap on your budget so you don’t blow through it
  • Pay attention to which channels and ads are creating new members

Soon you will start to see what is working. Look at cost per acquisition of a new member as a main KPI. Most paid channels show this metric plainly. Continue iterating, and investing more budget to scale the successful ads and channels.

Content for the entire membership process

Year-over-year growth in unique site traffic is 7.8x higher for content marketing leaders.

Aberdeen

Consider content marketing for different stages of the membership process. A content funnel will help you in many ways. One way is giving your members something fresh to get excited about. And another big benefit is growing your website’s authority for different search keywords, which helps you get even more members.

Here are content ideas you can consider for different member stages:

  • Premium pieces like webinars and research reports that you can “gate” behind a form, generating new leads and members
  • Onboarding emails that send every few days for new members
  • Video series that you can share regularly: interviews with important figures, how-to’s, or podcast-style talk shows
  • Blog posts once or twice weekly that are helpful to re-engage members via email

As you can see, content serves many different functions and you should use it as a main marketing strategy.

Automate for retention

While some membership websites try to use free tools for their marketing, we always advise investing in marketing automation. Why? Because unlike other business models, membership websites require very consistent touch points with your user base in order to keep them happy. And constantly sending manual emails, reminders, and “welcome” messages will become too much work too quickly.

As a positive effect, marketing automation can help you target members better with things they want to see. For example, you can create different lists of members in your CRM with specific things in common. Then you can automate targeted messaging and content for these people. Targeted content always yields better engagement as a rule of thumb!

So invest in a tool such as HubSpot and create a series of rule-based automated workflows. For example:

  • A five-part onboarding email series
  • A weekly blog article, shared automatically in a newsletter
  • A re-engagement campaign that sends when somebody doesn’t visit your site for a particular amount of time
  • A follow-up piece of helpful content after a member downloads something or sees a certain page
  • Event reminders that are date-based and auto triggered
  • A “tell your friends” social prompt when members show website engagement or satisfaction

Not only will you save time and energy so you can focus on more important business objectives, but you will have happier members who feel attended to.

Conclusion

Iteration, automation, and content creation are all major membership marketing strategies to take on this year. By following these themes, you will see the benefits in more members, happier members, and less time spent on clerical work.

Sources

Aberdeen via Kapost, 2013, “8 More Content Marketing Stats to Knock Your Socks (Back) Off“



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