If you don’t have a ready audience to market your membership website to, then you’ll need to hone your marketing skills.
But how are you going to spread the word? Fortunately, there are many ways both online and offline to drive traffic to your website. We’ve gathered ten options to recommend.
Usually when you get started, there will be plenty of hit and miss in your marketing strategy until you find what works best for you.
Here are our top ten tips for marketing your membership site:
1. Build your email list
Building an email list should be your number one priority when it comes to your marketing. By capturing the contact information of the organic traffic that comes to your site, you have the potential to convert them to paying customers. People on your email list have voluntarily handed over their information because they want to hear more from you.
They are actively saying that they want to know what you have to offer. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, an email address is much more direct and personal. And the best thing? You have complete control over your list – you own it. It’s not subject to those pesky social media algorithms that change every few months. If your favourite social media site disappeared tomorrow, you’d lose every single follower you worked so hard to get. If you’ve got them on your email list, they’re only going away if they lose interest.
Sign up for a service such as Mailchimp or Aweber, and place sign-up forms strategically on your website and blog. Promote your email list on social media as well.
Keep in touch with your mailing list on a regular basis – once a month at the minimum – and make sure you’re sending them valuable information as well as promoting your wares.
2. Start a blog
Blogging is a brilliant way to show off your expertise, and prove that you know your stuff. The idea here is to give people a reason to revisit your site on a regular basis, convert them into email subscribers (see above), and show off your knowledge and personality. The way you do this doesn’t really matter – be creative and pick a format that you’re most comfortable with.
Blog posts can range from a short 500-word think piece, to a 5000-word in-depth guide. If you don’t like writing you could do an audio blog, a video blog, or even an image-based blog. You could blog something small every day, or do a lengthy piece every two weeks. It’s completely up to you – don’t get bogged down by thinking your blog needs to be like everybody else’s, be creative and let your personality shine.
3. Feature free content teasers
Releasing teaser content on your blog, email newsletter and/or social media is a brilliant way of giving people a taste of what they can expect from your paid offerings. Think of this like a movie trailer – you want to give people an idea of whether or not your content is right for them. Make a showreel of your latest members-only videos, or release a couple of written lessons on your blog and show people where they can sign up to get more.
4. Post on social media
Social media is a fantastic tool if used correctly, but unfortunately most businesses still get stuck here. The key with social media is the word ‘social’. Don’t try and use social media in the same way you would advertising – it’s not all sell, sell, sell on social. It’s more about crafting an experience with your content. You want to use social media to show ‘behind the scenes’ of your business, the works in progress, the personalities and people involved, and you want to create a buzzing community around your business and build awareness of your brand.
You do this by actually having conversations with your followers – engaging with them and building relationships with them – rather than just telling them to buy your stuff all the time. Social media is a wonderful place to share blog posts and teaser content, but that should only be around 20% of your content. The bulk of it should be community-focused and conversational.
5. Engage in public relations
PR feels very old-fashioned in this hi-tech internet space, but it is still very relevant. In the days before the internet, PR was primarily focused on getting your business featured in print publications like newspapers and magazines, as well as TV and radio coverage. Whilst that still applies, PR has evolved to include things like getting featured on high-profile blogs, podcasts, and online magazine sites. In a nutshell, you identify the places you would like your business to be featured, write a press release or pitch, and send it off. You can get help with this sort of thing from places like Upwork, Fiverr and Airtasker.
6. Try public speaking
Public speaking is a fantastic way to share your knowledge and expertise with people and widen your reach. There are numerous different ways you can do this, for example: speaking at charity events, joining your local Toastmasters group, speaking at industry events, speaking via video at online summits, applying to do a TEDx talk for your local chapter. A Google search for ‘speaking opportunities in my area’ can throw up lots more ideas as well. Make your talk fun, engaging, informative, and relevant to your business, with some fantastic visual aids to accompany it – I recommend hiring a designer for this if you’re not design-oriented yourself. Practicing in front of a mirror and with a small group of friends will boost your confidence and iron out all the kinks before you ‘go live’.
7. Attend networking events
Never underestimate the power of networking! A business is only as strong as the strength of its relationships, and you have to actively seek out and nurture your connections. You never know where a meeting may lead. There are two ways to do this: the first is to join up with traditional networking style groups in your area. These are organized events where you introduce yourself and hand out business cards and meet as many people as possible. The downside of these events is that you never know who will be attending, and it could be that the group is just the wrong sort of people for your business.
The second way, which I prefer, is a much more personal approach. You look for people and special interest groups who you feel would be a good fit for your business and you approach them directly. For example, a fitness coach could join up with a hiking group, and could even speak to the organizer about giving a short talk or demonstration (see public speaking, above). Check out Meetup.com for special interest groups in your area.
8. Collaborate with others
Following on from networking, collaborations are when two or more complementary businesses join forces to create something that benefits all of them. For example, a fitness coach and a nutrition expert could team up to create a course together, or refer customers to each other, or even guest post on each other’s blogs.
The key here is to choose businesses that have roughly the same target market as you, but are not in direct competition; for example, a music teacher and a performance coach; or a bookkeeper and a virtual assistant.
Be careful if you’re getting into collaborations that involve a degree of risk, you’ll need to build a relationship with the person first and make sure that you trust them. But once you’re both comfortable, these arrangements can be enormously beneficial to everyone involved.
9. Advertise your product
There is so much you can do for free these days that advertising has had to evolve dramatically to keep up. In terms of ROI (return on investment) the two most effective forms of advertising these days are Facebook ads, and sidebar ads on high-traffic blogs that are relevant to your industry. If you have a bit of spare cash it’s worth experimenting and seeing what works best for you – Facebook ads in particular are very affordable (as little as $2 per day), and can have amazing results.
10. Hand sell to individuals
Finally, we have hand selling. This technique works particularly well if you already have an audience you can talk to (remember that email list from the beginning – it would come in very handy here). You want to identify your ‘super-fans’, these are the people who are really engaged with your content. They might be existing customers, or they might be the people who comment on your blog posts, reply to your email newsletter and share your stuff on social media.
Make a list of 10-30 people and reach out to them, asking if they’d be willing to have a chat with you about your offerings. Then arrange the calls, and really listen to what they’re saying. Having a list of questions ready will help with this task – you want to know exactly what they’re struggling with, what they value most about your offerings, and most importantly, what they want to see more of. This will help you enormously when you’re designing and positioning your offers, and ensure that you are actually making the products that your customers want to buy from you. I recommend you record these conversations so you can use their words (exactly, no paraphrasing) in your marketing materials.
Once you’ve gathered all the information and created a product (or tweaked an existing one), you can go back to these people individually and present it to them. It’s a fantastic way to make sure you are completely aligned with the needs and desires of your audience, resulting in many more sales.
More SEO Best Practices: