Membership Management Ideas

memb-globeYour desire to create a membership site might be overwhelmed with some natural fears about the requirements to create a great experience for your members. Too many times, we consider the technical aspects of the actual site and forget that there are people involved. You can have the greatest content ever, but if your members feel like ‘The Cable Guy’ when they visit, how long will they remain members?

While I agree that there are countless reasons to make an amazing website for your members to visit, there are some important aspects of managing your membership, as in, the people who share your interest in your niche. As you design your site and find some great sources for content, spend some time thinking about these important facets of getting to know your members.

Expect the Unexpected

Every person you meet has a set of interests that will overlap with your own in various ways. I am quite sure you do not expect your members to be exactly like you, but you are going to see some surprising responses to your emails and requests for your time. I have a great friend who has a membership site focused on his expertise in SEO. One of his members responded to one of his notes and asked our SEO expert to create a course on Kindle books.

Now, before I provide the answer to this story, let me ask you how you would handle an off-topic request. Maybe you are creating a membership site in the health niche. How would you respond to a person who wants you to add a section to your website for heirloom gardening techniques? Your response could be motivational to this person who is passionate about a very large niche that has thousands of followers.

I promise you that a couple of people are going to be unhappy with absolutely everything you do. I just heard you *gasp*! Now, let me tell you a little secret. You are the boss! Isn’t that just the coolest position in the world to have? Actually, there are some good and bad points to that fact, but I have to tell you once again! You are the boss!

Answer Member Requests & Questions

Sometimes this is a very scary thought because you are going to have a couple of experts. I have seen members become admins in membership sites when the membership grows too quickly, and the owner needs a hand with the harder questions. Allow your experts to surface and make friends with every one of them. They can be a great help when someone asks a really hard question. Buy yourself a little time by asking your member to clarify the question they are asking. You can also publish those hard questions in the group forum or Facebook page.

As your site begins to grow, set your members’ expectations about where to find information you offer and how to connect with you. None of us wants to work all the time and respond immediately. My preference is to respond within a business day or two. I also want the flexibility to do some research and provide a better answer.

All of us have to remind our members that work is required to become an expert in any niche. Your topic is your passion, and you want to have the time research and provide great content. While your members are covering their bases, they will want to complete their work without relying on you.

Boundaries & Limits

In this category, you can imagine the one person who continues to contact you without offering anything in return. Your members are an important part of your website, but they are not roommates. Any niche has a few people who want you to be “on call” for them. Before the situation arises, make some decisions about what you are willing to do and what you want to avoid. In online business, one advantage we have is creating a service for members when they want to “chat.” Consider these Membership Managementsituations, what is your policy?

  • Attack on your knowledge
  • Demand for a refund
  • Disagreement in the forum
  • Destructive comments
  • Posting promotions and affiliate links

I ran into a situation during a product launch recently that really surprised me. My immediate response was rather extreme, so I walked away from the computer until I could cool off. {During my high-tech career, I usually walked down the aisle counting backwards from 99 aloud. The team members always knew to simply wait.}

Anyway, back to my train of thought. Whenever a member steps across the boundaries, you must respond, but not react. Address problems in private whenever possible. Use technology to your advantage, but make certain that you communicate. Before you offer your site to new members, know what you will do with some of the conflicts that will arise.

Communication Style

We all love to read blog posts that drone on forever without ever acknowledging the reader. Right? It’s great fun! Three THOUSAND words of nonsense. Are you laughing? Well, I usually don’t make it past the first paragraph. We want to make online connections – right?

You probably have people who send you emails each day and you totally ignore them. I know I do. Then, there are those that you open first because that person has become a friend. But how do we create those connections? Practice.

Your special style probably matches your niche. As you compose emails, content and narrative, think about that person who makes you glad you chose your niche. Write to a friend. You might not think you are a great writer. Do you want to know how to become a great writer? Read everything you can on your niche. Seriously! Pack your mind full of books, articles, magazines, webpages and great conversations. Your readers will love to hear from you because all those thoughts will just flow in your writing.

Part Ways Amicably

Membership SiteJust as you would in your house, you can escort a member to the door of your website and complete the cancellation process. There are times when a member should be ushered to another site where they might be happier. I can remember one time when a member handled a situation poorly. The owner of the site took appropriate action and then called an end to all discussion between the rest of the members.

Your membership site can become a source of enjoyment where everyone present enjoys the niche and the interaction. As a member of a site, your willingness to reach out to others enhances the experience for everyone. Participate and ask questions so that other people can help and follow your journey.

The Rest of the Story

Oh, back to that off-the-wall request from our Kindle friend. My SEO expert friend told the guy that he might want to take that idea up as his next product and create a membership site and information product in that niche. Starting those conversations is essential if we want to retain our members and yet draw a boundary around what we are willing to offer.

What are your experiences with your membership?

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