1 - Not enough value

Whether your membership site is free or paid, you have to give your members a reason to be members and a reason to go to your site and log in… again and again. It is pretty easy to keep them interested. Set up a blog, or a forum, and then start discussions and encourage participation.

Those discussions do not always have to be 100% related to the topic of the membership site. On my site, I have a forum and often make forum posts on tips related to things other than the main topic of the site. For example, I recently posted on how to use videos, quizzes and surveys on a website; while not directly related to the purpose of the site, it was website and member-building related.

KEY: Content is king, so make sure that you give them a ton of it to keep them coming back for more.

 2 - Complicated user interface

Simply put — if I need a PhD in user interface design to navigate to the material I want or need, then I’ll go elsewhere. It may seem uncomplicated to you, but you designed it, so your opinion doesn’t count! Get outside, objective people to play with it and give you feedback.

KEY: Remember, it is what the members want, not what you want.

3 - Poor user experience

Broken links, slow response, images that takes weeks to load, your site is not responsive — the list goes on. You must strive to present a stellar user experience.

Get your friends and trusted clients to test your site. Is your hosting service too slow? I see too many businesses spend a ton of money on marketing the sabotage themselves by only being willing to pay $19.97/year to host their company website. Very shortsighted! That is why I searched for a great hosting partner and when I found one, I offered high-performance hosting to my clients.

KEY: Are your videos and images optimized for the web? Do you use a specialized video hosting service like Vimeo or YouTube? Your members will likely cut you a little slack, but if the poor user experience goes on and members get frustrated, they’ll leave and not return.

4 - Bad customer service

It does not matter whether your site is free or paid, a hobby or a business — if you want members to stay, you have to give them great customer service. This is a way to really differentiate yourself from your competition (oh yes, you hobby site owners out there, you have competition too!).

Sadly, we have been dumbed down to accept lousy customer service as the norm. How about if you start to turn that trend around? It is really not hard to have better customer service than 90% of your competitors. For example, simply answer your customer inquiries in a few hours rather than the normal few days.

KEY: Think about what drives you nuts when you are dealing with businesses (on-line, and brick-and-mortar), see how it relates to your membership site, and then don’t do it. Easy peasy.

5 - Not enough content

This relates to number 1 in the last article but deserves to be identified as a critical mistake on its own.

There are lots of ways to not offer enough value that do not have to do with content, but it’s impossible to give enough value if your content is thin, especially if the member is paying for the privilege of accessing your site.

If you do webinars, or podcasts, why not give your members access to the archives of those? Or if you publish a newsletter (print or electronic), have a repository of back-issues on the membership site. It really costs you nothing, as you have already produced these, and now you have fat content.

KEY: As with mistake number one, the old adage holds true here... under-promise and over-deliver.

6 - Giving all the content at once

Ok, so this sounds like a contradiction to number 5, but really it is not.

If you are teaching something, for example, if you give the members access to all the information in one lesson, you can easily overwhelm them. So, dole it out, either manually, or automatically.

One really simple way is to break up the content into small bite-sized chunks. My documentation videos are short and focus on a single point.

I have a client who is running a course right now, and she releases each lesson in consecutive weeks. You can go back, but you have to wait to go forward. She is a smart entrepreneur in that besides the lesson itself, she gives the member ‘homework’ to do and topics to read pertaining to that week’s lesson, so they are not bored or lose interest before the next week’s lesson is released.

KEY: Give out your content over time and in bite-size chunks to create interest, urgency, and engagement.

7 - No reason for them to engage

You cannot just spit out all your information, regardless of how great it may be, without getting your members to interact and do something. Otherwise, they will drift away. The client I mentioned in number 6 engages with her members by giving them exercises to do related with the lesson. Then, in addition to that, she holds a live weekly call where members can ask her questions about that week’s lesson.

Encourage your members to comment on your blog posts, forum posts, etc. Maybe hold a contest every once in a while for the best new idea or whatever. Give something of value to the winner, like a book on a related topic, or a backup battery for their electronic gizmos, or something related to your membership topic (say a free set of knitting needles for the winner on your knitting know-how site).

KEY: If you want to keep your members, this has to be a two-way communication, and they must feel engaged (or minimally feel that they can become engaged if they choose to be).

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