Have you been hired to build or upgrade a membership website for a client? Whether it’s a subscription website or an online home for an association, club or chamber of commerce, membership websites are a different animal than brochureware. Let’s look at some ways you can make sure your client is set for success. If they do well, chances are they’ll refer you to other clients.
- Clearly and simply display member pricing information
Your client’s pricing page is likely the biggest income-producing page for the organization. Tips for a winning page:
- Make it as clear and clutter-free as possible. Make sure the form is above the fold. Save lengthy explanatory text for another page.
- Consider that offering too many choices in the process can create paralysis and indecision. Advise the client to minimize both the number of membership levels as well as payment choices.
- The higher the number of empty fields, the less likely potential members will be to complete their transaction. Challenge the client to eliminate any fields that are just “nice to have” information on the first page of the process. Some membership platforms allow you to ask for additional information later in the process.
Leave out these fields:
- Second phone number (if asking for phone, only ask for one number)
- Confirm Email (where you ask people to enter it twice)
- Fax number (who uses them anymore?)
- Treat every page as a sales opportunity
Designers tend to put a lot of effort into making the home page something of a work of art. But the home page is not the page that will actually generate income. In many cases a search engine will list pages deeper in the site instead of a home page for non-brand search terms. Given that any page can be the first page a potential member sees:
- Ensure the top navigation makes it easy to find the member join page. Don’t bury it in subnavigation.
- Use sidebars or in house advertising to direct prospects to the signup page.
- Put more of a design effort into internal pages that are listed as most visited aside from the home page.
- Set up and customize automatic failed payment emails
While the WordPress membership plugin may provide default messages, customizing the content of automated emails will help your client’s group convert these failed payments to renewals. To break through inbox clutter, be sure to set up at least two reminders to send after the first failed payment message. Think about including:
- Reminders of member benefits (link to a member benefits page).
- The member or business name. The open rate for emails with a personalized message is 18.8%, as compared to 13.1% without any personalization. Embed a name in the greeting (e.g. “Dear [contact]”) or even better, the subject line (e.g. “[contact] we need your help”).
- Last four digits of the credit card on file so that the customer can quickly see if it is a card that they may no longer use.
- A link directly to a login page to make a membership payment so members don’t accidentally try to join again.
- Staff contact information for members who are having trouble or have questions.
- Use custom labels, folders and fields to segment members
The organization’s membership management software likely has a number of ways to group members. It will be good for them to know what types of businesses members have, or other demographics like job titles. You can help by setting up ways for members to classify themselves at signup — allow them to self-select labels or choose from drop down options. Standardizing the choices will be more useful than information that’s simply entered by the member into a text field. Your client can use this data to:
- Share demographic information about members (e.g. “40% of our members are CFOs”) when requesting sponsorships or selling advertising.
- Hire you to set up an online membership directory with demographic search criteria. Most membership software includes a member directory
- Create and promote custom benefits, website content, event categories or event tickets for certain groupings of members to keep them rewarded and engaged.
- Export specific segments for purposes of targeted email communications. According to one study, segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue.
- Take advantage of integrations and automation
Is your client doing things manually that could be automated? Some things to check on:
- Use scheduled emails in the membership CRM or an integrated email marketing platform like MailChimp to create emails to go out at a later date. This could apply to individual membership billing letters or it could be an autoresponder series that is sent a certain amount of time after a member’s join date.
- Explore reporting options. Does your client want a report emailed to them for information like new member notifications or upgrades and downgrades?
- Find a list of the membership software integrations. Does it integrate with your email marketing platform or accounting system (like Quickbooks or Xero)? Integration can save huge amounts of time. For example, who wants to be exporting membership lists on a regular basis for import into MailChimp? Automation not only saves time but also helps avoid members database mistakes that can be hard to undo.
- Instead of setting aside time to design a monthly enewsletter, your client’s association could allow members to subscribe to blog posts that are automatically sent to their email list. Going further with this idea, you can even set up a signup form to allow members to choose specific categories they are interested in. Information will reach members more quickly. If the content is valuable enough, you can use the membership plugin to restrict access to these posts so that the content is available to members only.
Do you have other ideas to build a better membership website in WordPress? Tell us in the comments section.
Amy Hufford is a Technologist at MembershipWorks. She has worked in membership technology for more than 20 years and has experience building membership websites with a variety of membership software platforms.