How do you go about selling a monthly recurring membership?
Is it harder to sell a monthly membership than a one-time payment?
In this episode of CBB, we dive right into the topic of selling a recurring monthly membership. And we do that by discussing 5 different techniques for getting new members.
- Front-End Offers and “Splintering”
- Different positioning
- Blog calls to action
How (and when) do you use these different things? Learn the in’s and out’s of each of the 5 techniques in this episode of Coffee Break.;-)
So, today we are going to talk about how to get people sign up for your Membership Site…
Now the last several episodes of Coffee Break here, we have been talking about membership sites, product creation, and things like that. And as you guys should know by now; if you have been listening along with me, is that I am a huge, huge fan of the membership site as a model. That is for several different reasons, but the two big ones are…
- One, I am a huge fan of recurring monthly revenue; I think it is a really great way to form a true foundation for your business; something that we are not constantly having to chase the next sale.
- Second thing is that I am a huge fan of membership site as a platform for delivery of your products because it provides so much flexibility for how you sell things and at what price points to sell things, providing upsell capability from one product to the next, etc., etc.
But let us jump into this whole recurring monthly billing. It really is the Holy Grail of online business; the recurring monthly model. How do you go about getting people to sign up for something like that?
So today, I want to quickly go over 5 Different Techniques that you can use to people to sign up for your membership. And quite frankly, these are probably things that you might use; all of them, simultaneously. So it is not like as if one of these is better than the other. It is just 5 particular things that I came up with.
Now I want to preface the whole thing by again asking this question:
Is it inherently more difficult to get somebody to sign up for a recurring membership than it is to sign up for a one- time thing?
Many people think so. And sure enough there is testing data out there that shows that in some cases that is definitely true. But I don’t want you to get stuck or put an artificial barrier there that might not be real. When you really look down at it, people are involved in monthly recurring programs all the time. It is not as if we are scared of such things. In our regular lives we are involved in several monthly programs in the form of utilities, in the form of our cellphone bill; but even if we go to entertainment, we pay for cable; we pay for Netflix, possibly. If you are an Amazon customer; maybe you are an Amazon Prime customer and you pay that yearly. The point is, you are probably involved in several monthly or annual bills that you probably do not even question.
So, really, it is not that we are scared of recurring programs and it is not that your customers or your prospects are scared of recurring programs. The key here; and we have said this before, is that you need to make what they are getting every month obviously worth more than what you are asking them to pay. It is really that simple. If your prospect is sitting on the outside and they can clearly see that what you are going to provide to them is going to be worth more than what you are asking them to pay, they will sign up for your membership program. It is that simple. It is not because only if you take a one-time fee and you turn it in to a recurring then they are automatically going to be like, “I’m scared of the commitment”. No, they are not. They are not scared of the commitment, especially if you make clear that they can cancel anytime that they want. It is not going to be a problem.
So with that being said, let us jump right in to these 5 different techniques for getting new members to sign up for your membership sites.
Now, I have more to say about the topic of webinars in the future on this podcast on using webinars as a sales vehicle, but webinars are great way to get people into your membership. They are a great way to sell things in general. You can sell higher ticket things; actually, via webinar than you probably will be able to ever sell via a sales letter or a sales video alone. There is something about having people in that live environment. Or at the very least getting them to show up in a particular time that helps the sales process because you have provided that little element of control. You got them there. And it also gives you that opportunity to set a deadline and things like that. The big key with a webinar is that you want to make the content of that webinar designed to catch them where they are at. You want to hit them at their current reality.
So take whatever transformation it is that your business delivers and you are going to have to meet people at the beginning of that transformation and all the problems and frustrations and fears that might generally go along with people who are at the beginning of that transformation… and your content is designed to hit them there, and then provide an “Aha” to them; like an “aha” moment. You want them to have a realization or some kind of a win on that webinar. And with all these, I am talking about the free content; the actual content portion of your webinar. So you are taking them from where they are at and you are providing them a realization or a win, something that they can see and go like, “Oh my gosh, there actually is a solution to these things that I am feeling right now!” And then at the end, of course, you transition them to the offer and you present your membership as a solution or as a “the” solution to their problems.
That is a very simple formula. There is a lot of specifics out there that we could talk about there with that webinar. People have different lines and little tactics that they do with the webinars; I am not going to dive in to all that, I just want you to understand the bird’s eye view right now on really what you are doing on a webinar.
There are two basic portions of that…
First of all, you are going to have the content portion of that webinar where you are there to provide true value to them. That is the reason they came to your webinar in the first place. And then secondly, you are going to present an offer to them; that is what you are going to do at the end of it. Now, the big thing with that free portion of the webinar is that you are talking to them, pre-transformation. These are people who have not yet experienced any wins with you. And so, you need to talk to them, realizing that they are in that mindset and you are going to provide a solution; something where they can get immediate results with that free content, and then you give them the offer to allow them to move forward from there. Webinars work extremely well to get people into any type of product but that also includes a membership.
One thing to keep in mind with webinars is that they do have the power to convert better than a sales letter. So for that reason, you might not want to just take some $9/month membership and just offer that on the webinar. I would highly encourage you to offer something higher priced because you generally can, and/or you take your membership and you turn it to an annual offer and you have them pre-pay for a year in advance. Quite frankly, that will probably help you with your customer lifetime value because depending on how good your program is, it is very likely that your typical monthly member is not going to stay for 12 months. And so, by getting them to enroll in a year in advance it provides them that ability to have not to worry about payments for a while, but it also allows you to get your customer lifetime value higher than what probably happen if you enroll them in a monthly. And you are a lot more likely to be able to sell them on that higher priced annual option via that webinar than you would, otherwise. So do it; take advantage of it.
2. Front-End Offers
Now this is something that I talk about on the Blog Profit Funnel. And we have talked about the Funnel before, here on this podcast and I have a full Action Plan on creating your own Blog Profit Funnel; that is inside the Blog Monetization Lab. But basically, it is a simple sales funnel where the membership offer is going to be essentially your core offer. But before they get to that point, you are going to offer to them a front end offer; something cheap, something impulse buy-ish. So you are going to get them into a lead magnet, get them onto your list and then you are immediately going to present them a front end offer. And if they take you up on that front end offer, then you present the membership.
So it is a way of transitioning them into the membership rather than going right for it. And find that in my business that works pretty well. I have recently made some changes to my own presentation of my membership and that definitely increased conversions. And we can go talk about that a little bit more later, but I have a more developed sales section of the Blog Marketing Academy that talks all about the Blog Monetization Lab and right now it is converting pretty well for a sales letter. But I also have funnels in place behind lead magnets that give a front end offer first and then if they say “Yes” to that, they are presented with an opportunity to enroll in the full Lab. And the way it works with me is that I actually splinter off Action Plans from the Lab itself and I make that Action Plans available as a standalone purchase. And I price it low.
These Action Plans are more valuable than what I ask people to pay on the front end. It is typically $7 bucks but I typically say for a lot of consumer markets; something less than 10 is generally good. We want it to be at a price point that they generally do not need to think about it very much or not worry about risk or anything because it is such a small amount of money. And the whole idea there is that we turn them from a prospect into a customer; even a lower priced customer, that is fine. And then from there, once they have that one Action Plan; the way that I pitch the next offer is that, “Hey, you want the rest of these Action Plans? Here’s an opportunity to unlock all of them right now.” And that is essentially the way that I pitch the Lab to them in that funnel. So that is a clean way to get people into your membership as well. It is to splinter things off out of the membership, sell it individually as a front end offer and then on the back end as an upsell, you offer the full membership to them if they say yes to that front end offer.
3. Position Your Membership As A Payment Plan
Now, you will have to look at your situation and see whether this makes sense, but the idea is simple. Instead of having it via an ongoing monthly program where it literally continues to bill them in perpetuity until they cancel; you say that the full price of this program is X but you can get on to a payment plan for let’s say 12 months or 6 months or whatever it is, and that is essentially your recurring monthly. So it is different. It basically is a positioning difference. Instead of it being this ongoing monthly, you are basically taking this full course; that is what they are buying this full course, it is worth a certain amount of money and instead of them paying you all upfront which you do want to offer that as an option, you instead offer a payment plan. And essentially, that payment plan is a recurring monthly program.
Now, very often, you can actually ask for more money every month than you would usually be able to do with a standard monthly program because they realize that this is a payment plan. They are making payments toward a full priced course that will eventually come to an end. I used to do this with the very early version of the Blog Monetization Lab; before it was even called the Lab. And it was a 12-month payment plan, essentially, where they will be billed for 12 payments over the course of the year and then when that came to an end, they were done! No more payments at that point; it was essentially a lifetime membership. So that is just a way that you could explore doing it. Depending on the nature of your product… And even if your course is really viable; let us say full price is $1000, but then say, “Well, if you do not want to pay a thousand dollars today, you can make 12 payments of $97 (just off the top of my head). Now they are paying more to you if they break it up into the payment plan, but it is easier for them in the short term because instead of paying $1000 today, they paid $97. And then you are going to bill them $97 a month for 12 months and then when they are done; they are done, they have lifetime access at that point.
4. Have Blog Call To Actions Into Your Membership
Your membership should be integrated into your blog so that people who are on your free blog content are going to obviously see that you have things available for them behind the membership log in. So, one way to do that is to simply relate membership content to your blog post. And so for example, if you go to any one of my blog posts at the Blog Marketing Academy; and if you scroll down to the end of one of those blog posts, you are going to see related training from the Lab right there. So if you are reading a blog post that has to do with product creation; you are going to see in the related Action Plans, you are going to see the Product Creation Blueprint which is a paid action plan inside the Blog Monetization Lab. And so, by doing that, it brings forth relative content from the membership to the person who is obviously interested in that topic because they had just read a blog post and got to the end of it and now I am providing that as a call to action and they can learn more about it.
Another thing that you could do is, if your membership and your free stuff portion of your site are all one and the same, then you can have your paid content show up in public so that people who are not a paid member, they can see what is available to members, but of course, if they try to click on that they are going to be presented an error message that basically says, “Hey, you are not a member.” And of course, you do not want that to just be a block that says, “Hey, you suck. You are not a member; sign up now.” You want to turn that error message into some kind of a sales call to action. So make it nice and clean and look nice; do not just give them a big exclamation point and tell them how they suck. Obviously, you are not going to do that, but you get my point. Make it make sense. My error message for the Blog Monetization Lab has a little thing at the top that says, “This is members only content” whatever, but underneath that I present the full sales message for the Blog Monetization Lab. I don’t want people to just run into a dead end. I want to give them a clear path to access what they just tried to access.
5. Trial Memberships
Now, there are different opinions about trials. Personally, I am not a big fan of trial memberships. But I do also realize that in many other circumstances, trials have worked very well. So I am only giving you my opinion here, and I do not want you to take my opinion as gospel. You absolutely have to try this for yourself. In my personal experience, when I tested out trials, they did not work very well. I was getting tire kickers. I was getting people coming in to the Blog Monetization Lab who were not doing anything. And it was because they had no skin on the game. That’s the thing.
The people who pay the most to get in to the Blog Monetization Lab always get the best results and it is because they have actually invested in the outcome that they want. And so, therefore they were more committed to getting somewhere with it. Those who just come in and they paid just a dollar to try the offer for a few days, they do not really care what happens because they only risked a dollar. And so for that reason, I am not a big fan of trials, but that was just based on my own testing.
Now in your case, depending on the nature of your membership, and that you really have to know your numbers here, too; trials could work out really well. So the whole idea of a trial is to lower the risk. Allow the people to try the thing out. And maybe you give them limited access during that trial and then they unlock new things if they upgrade to the full membership. You can set this up as you want. Now, I am not a big fan of free trials. I think that the bare minimum, you need to charge a buck for it. I think you have got to get that credit card on file, you got to get them to pony up a little bit of skin into that game rather than let them have it for free. I personally think that is important, but again, there are probably people out there who have done very well using free trials.
So, it is all a matter of testing it in your situation and see how it works for your audience. But then, again, you have got to know your numbers, you got to know what the conversion rate is from free trial or even a dollar trial up into paid and you got to know what your lifetime customer value is. How long does that person typically remain a member and is it paying off? If your typical member that signs up only lasts a month or two, getting trial memberships at that point probably would not make a lot of sense. You probably need to focus on making your membership more valuable so people are not cancelling after a couple of months. And then, once you know you got your retention plugged in and people are sticking around once they are in there; you got a good product and a good offer, then you could experiment with the whole trial thing and see if you can get more people in the door.
So those are the 5 different techniques to get new members to sign up for your membership site.
And to recap on that:
- To splinter off membership content and turn it on to a front end offer and then have the membership as an upsell.
- Position it as a payment plan rather than an ongoing monthly program.
- Have calls to action to the membership with related content and stuff like that on your blog itself.
- Test out trial offers and see how that convert.
So that is how to get new members in to your membership site. I do not want anybody to fall into the trap of thinking that recurring monthly is inherently more difficult to sell. It is absolutely not. In some cases, it can actually be a lot easier because you could sell higher priced things for lower price point upfront because of that monthly. And then it also gives you that bedrock of revenue that you can depend upon every single month.
Now if you want to learn more about how to put this together, how to set up your blog profit funnels to sell a membership; and also I am working currently, right now, on a brand new Action Plan for the Monetization Lab on how to set up your membership site. It is going to be the Membership Site Blueprint and it will be available soon inside the Blog Monetization Lab.
Thank you so much and I will see you next time here at Coffee Break Blogging!