Many small businesses operate membership-based websites so they can deliver premium content to their audience. There are many solutions available to choose from, so which one is best for your needs? Here is a helpful guide on how to select the right membership site for your business.
What are your goals for your membership site?
No doubt, there are a variety of uses for membership sites. I encourage you to identify your primary goals. Here are a few you might consider:
- Lead generation: Using your membership site as a lead magnet to provide a trial or access to free, gated content such as videos, audio recordings, or structured text content.
- Information product delivery: Offering various levels within your membership management software to create a tiered-subscription structure. More recurring revenue is good, right?
- Continuous content delivery: Do you need to build a membership site that is continuously producing new content in real-time to keep subscribers? Or do you want to build a membership site that drips content to your subscribers?
- ... How about all of the above?
Figure out what you need
After you have figured out what your goals are with your membership site, you will need to determine what kinds of features will support your business needs.
- Video and media hosting: Do you need to have resources that can take care of this challenge for you or do you need a manager to handle this for you? CustomerHub and some other solutions make this easy.
- Drip content: Time-released content allows you to start a subscriber out at a specific point in your membership site and slowly “drip” or release content over time for the length of the subscription. This is amazing for any membership site content you have created in advance. Each subscriber will be on a schedule and gain access to more content the longer they stay subscribed. Alternatively, you may be creating content on the fly and want to be able to provide content to your subscribers as you create it.
- User community: Community capabilities will provide the ability for your subscribers to interact with each other. This can be accomplished by integrating with a forum or including Facebook as a social component. Over time, your subscribers may be contributing to the overall value your membership site provides.
- Custom application development: Make sure that the platform you choose to build a membership site on allows you create the kind of content you need. If you have quizzes, tests, or other user feedback, then you may need a way to store this type of information. Special tools that you provide to your subscribers may also require that your membership site management solution supports custom code.
- Customer support: I personally feel that this is extremely important. What are you going to do when your membership site breaks or you can’t figure out how to use it? Are you comfortable with rolling up your sleeves and looking at code? If you are ninja wizard then you may not need it, but for the rest of us, having a customer support team to turn to when things go wrong can give you peace of mind and save you money.
- Billing system integration: I might be biased, but Infusionsoft is pretty awesome at managing the billing for your subscribers. If you are using Infusionsoft to bill your subscribers, I highly recommend that the membership site solution you use integrates with it. No one wants to manually (Eww!) create new accounts or tear down accounts when folks decide they want to cancel.
- Ease of use: You need to be able to create, update, and delete content yourself. Make sure that the solution you go with has an easy way to manage your membership site.
How much is all this going to cost?
There are two primary ways companies like to charge for online membership site management.
1. One-time fees: This option is great if you don’t want any support or if you are cool with having to update software manually (if you even get updates).
2. Recurring billing: Allows companies to provide better support and ongoing services like software updates, unlimited storage, and bandwidth for media and technical support.
But it doesn't end there. I have found that some people don’t want to deal with setting up software and would rather pay someone else to do it. If this is you, then you should be prepared to invest in graphic design, configuration, video production, writers, and more. Membership sites can't be hacked together—they need to give customers a strong sense of value.
So, now what?
The good news is that for Infusionsoft users, there are currently two viable solutions for easy membership site management. CustomerHub by Infusionsoft and iMember360 by ResponseFlow fully integrate with Infusionsoft, so all you have to worry about is how to create site content. Both platforms integrate with Infusionsoft for marketing, billing, and customer management.
CustomerHub is for folks that want to get a membership site up and running quickly without requiring knowledge of another platform like WordPress. Since it is a hosted membership site, you won’t have to deal with updates, security, or accidentally breaking anything.
iMember360 is for folks that want all the features mentioned above, but require extensive configuration and customization. You will need to host iMember360 yourself on your own WordPress site.
In conclusion, either platform will work well with Infusionsoft and I often recommend both. If you are confident with advanced uses of WordPress and Infusionsoft, give iMember360 a shot. Otherwise, for most new users, CustomerHub will fit perfectly for your needs.