10 ways to increase membership website sign-ups

New member sign-ups are essential to the growth of your membership website.

Your membership website might generate a lot of new members at launch, but once the buzz of the launch subsides, it can be hard to maintain the growth you need.

Subscribers are your lifeblood, so you need solid strategies to increase membership sign-ups. What works? What doesn’t? No two communities are the same, but here are ten tips for growing your membership site.

'Caution watch for people leaving the building' sign on brick wall
Image credit: Gerry Dincher Flickr

Membership website sign-ups

We all know that membership sign-ups are vital. When your site – and even your business – is funded by membership subscribers, attracting a bigger community will create more revenue. Whether this adds to your profit or you need it to pay the bills, some of this revenue should be used to help to attract new members.

New members are the lifeblood of a membership site, bringing in more cash and helping you grow and improve the quality of what you do. If you’re a not-for-profit, new members help you expand your community and better serve everyone within it. If you’re a business, more members mean more money and the opportunity to do more at a higher standard.

Any membership organisation that can attract new members will gain a larger audience and greater brand awareness. In turn, that means higher standing and more authority – all vitally important drivers for success. So how do you ensure you’re attracting potential members and getting as many as possible to convert?

1) Make sure you are easy to find

It doesn’t matter how brilliant your membership portal is if nobody can ever find it. You need to be visible in Google searches, competing for the keywords that are relevant to your community and your target membership. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is an entire discipline, and fortunately, we have already written an article on membership website SEO. At the very least, your membership platform should be fast, with user-focused keywords and content, and it should follow best practices when it comes to accessibility, URLs, page titles and snippets.

2) Don’t just rely on your website

As important as it is to make yourselves found, you also need to go out and find potential community members. Use social accounts to widen your reach, sharing your content and quotes from members and influencers in your field. Arrange or sponsor industry events. Doing so not only helps you establish and strengthen your brand, but you’ll get the chance to promote your membership proposition to the most engaged people within your sector.

3) Make a compelling pricing page

People want to know what they’ll need to pay to become membership subscribers and what they’ll get in return. Make it easy to find your pricing page, and make sure it lays out your membership plans and their benefits in a concise and clear way – a feature comparison table is highly recommended for this.

Be very clear about the benefits of signing up. What do members get for their money, and why is a paid membership better than a free one? Add a couple of member quotes to illustrate your point – or you could even embed reviews or short video testimonials. Maybe people will have questions, so you could include a short Q&A and a way for people to have any remaining questions answered.

4) Offer discounts, trial content and trial membership

If you offer a one-year membership, you’re asking people for quite a commitment. Make sure you demonstrate its value by offering limited free content to potential members. You could provide a couple of free articles or videos a month or consider making some of your best evergreen content permanently available.

You might offer a limited free membership or discounted rate to new members. Alternatively, you could specifically target people your analytics tell you are very engaged, possibly offering an even greater discount or a longer introductory period. Be wary of offering too much to too many people, however – you don’t want to devalue your paid membership plans.

5) Make signing-up simple and easy

There’s little to be gained promoting your valuable membership content if would-be members can’t work out how to join. Include a clear “Sign up now” Call-to-Action (CTA) on every page, and make sure the process is quick and frictionless. Accept all the currencies prospective membership subscribers might want to use and be upfront and honest about membership tiers, pricing, and minimum terms.

Work on iterating and improving your sign-up process, ask new members for feedback and watch colleagues or volunteers as they navigate through the sign-up process. Use this feedback and your analytics to identify pain points to fine-tune your membership platform.

BrightMinded are great to work with. They absolutely know the technical side, are always willing to offer advice quickly and implement new ideas well, and they really take the time to understand you as clients. It’s a real partnership, one that is full of trust and has been fruitful over several years. That’s led to some great results and real support of our digital offering.

Jonathan Wood Head of Society Programmes, British Ecological Society

6) Follow up on abandoned carts

Don’t leave all those abandoned shopping baskets lying around! Use remarketing methods to advertise to people who’ve visited your sign-up page but did not convert. Find the contact information for people who’ve started the subscriber process without finishing it. These are likely to be extremely good leads: engage them with follow-up emails and offers to increase membership sign-ups.

Don’t forget about people who’ve cancelled a trial or paid membership – they may be happy to rejoin if you have a compelling offer.

7) Do your research

It helps greatly to understand why people do and don’t sign up. Ask new members a couple of questions to establish what’s good and bad about the sign-up process. Ask people who’ve abandoned their cart what it was that made them change their mind and whether there’s anything you could do that might have changed the outcome.

The kind of remarketing we outlined in the previous point can help you incentivise these individuals, but they can also give insight into wider changes that would attract new members.

8) Know your audience

Membership websites should gather regular feedback to understand the needs and requirements of their audience and what they want from the membership. Use standard surveys, but also chat with members at events, and if necessary, hold clinics to discuss what’s working and what isn’t and to get ideas from your community. Use these insights to shape your content creation and events, but also to improve your understanding of members’ interests and views on wider events.

9) Produce quality content

Investing in quality content really pays off, particularly when your output is closely focused on the needs of your membership and the wider community. It’s essential to use your audience research as a guide. Great content will delight your existing membership, but it’s also a powerful tool for attracting more sign-ups.

It’s wise to share some of your best content for free – it’s a great advertisement for what you do – but you don’t have to give away everything. Consider editing long-form articles and videos into shorter clips you can use to intrigue people on your social channels and use your network to share them with a wider audience.

10) Retention!

This last point isn’t about boosting membership sign-ups: don’t overlook that it’s nearly always easier to keep an existing customer than to win a new one. Don’t let your focus on increasing membership strategies distract you from ensuring your current membership subscribers are delighted and satisfied. Make sure it’s easy for them to renew and that they’re happy to do so.

It can be annoying for existing members to see new sign-ups getting discounts while they have to pay full price. Incentivise renewals by offering loyalty bonuses such as extra months or an upgrade to a higher membership level. And again, try to capture and remarket people who do fail to renew. See if you can find out what stopped them from renewing, and if appropriate make them an offer to tempt them back into the fold.

Thanks for reading!

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