Creating Communities and Membership Sites for Ongoing Engagement
Beyond purchases alone, cultivating an engaged community of loyal customers is pivotal for sustained growth. Strategic private clubs, membership sites, and online communities provide ongoing touchpoints to strengthen retention and advocacy.
This guide will explore best practices for building out effective membership programs and community platforms, including:
- Identifying goals and ideal member profiles
- Structuring compelling membership tiers and benefits
- Facilitating member interactions and connections
- Producing exclusive content and experiences
- Integrating communities with products
- Measuring engagement and business impact
Done right, private communities become invaluable hubs for relationships with your most passionate customers over time. Let’s dive in!
Defining Goals and Target Member Profiles
First lay the groundwork for your community or membership program by identifying goals and ideal participants.
Outline Core Objectives
Key objectives may include driving sales, improving retention and loyalty, generating insights, or brand building. Define your primary aims.
Specify Target Member Attributes
Detail target member demographics, psychographics, behaviors, product usage and other attributes that would provide most value to engage.
Research Willingness to Pay
Gauge through surveys and interviews appropriate pricing and willingness to pay for access to community membership and benefits.
Identify Desired Behaviors
Specify what behaviors you want to encourage and cultivate among members such as referrals, content creation, reviewing products etc.
Develop Value Propositions
Craft messaging that resonates with target member profiles on the specific value provided through exclusive access and community engagement.
Structuring Compelling Membership Tiers and Benefits
With targets defined, build out membership tiers and associated benefits tailored to your audience.
Offer Exclusive Content and Tools
Provide members special content like videos, courses, market reports and productivity tools not available to general users.
Host Live Events and Experiences
Orchestrate in-person events, facility tours, trainings and meetups solely for members to mingle and engage. Consider virtual events too.
Offer Discounts and First Access
Give members sneak peeks at new products and special access to limited discounts, sales and promotions before general public.
Designate member-only labels, badges and designations that display special status in community profiles.
Enable Peer Connections
Build in features to connect members for peer advice, reviews, recommendations and networking based on shared interests.
Provide Concierge Support
Designate specialized community management staff to handle member questions and issues quickly as a perk.
Structure Multiple Tiers
Offer various membership tiers with expanding benefits at increasing price points to appeal to diverse needs.
Cultivating Interactions Between Members
The heart of any community lies in facilitating engaging interactions between members. Employ tactics like:
Spotlight Active Contributors
Recognize and showcase highly active members posting content, commenting and helping others to spur further participation through recognition.
Facilitate Topic Discussions
Seed ongoing topic conversations around interests relevant to your target members to keep dialogue flowing.
Help match members with shared passions, use cases and goals to spark direct peer exchanges and relationships.
Incentivize desired participation by awarding points, badges and ranks for actions like referrals, content creation and site activity.
Amplify member posts, reviews, and content by sharing across community channels when approved.
Send Digest Emails
Send recap emails highlighting recent popular conversations and content members may have missed.
Arrange “Ask Me Anything” sessions with executives, influencers and subject experts for members to engage directly.
Creating Exclusive Content and Experiences
Unique content and experiences reserved for members make the program worthwhile. Consider:
Live Workshops and Demos
Host interactive virtual or in-person workshops, training sessions, and product demos for members only.
Insider Stories and Interviews
Offer exclusive behind-the-scenes content like founder stories, office tours and interviews with team members.
Access to Subject Experts
Provide forums and helplines for members to pick the brains of your in-house experts.
Give members exclusive sneak peeks at upcoming products and roadmap initiatives to collect early feedback.
Special Events and Retreats
Coordinate member events like conferences, hackathons, retreats and parties unavailable to the general public.
Publish a regular content digest exclusively featuring articles, stories, and columns tailored to member interests.
Virtual Member Hangouts
Facilitate casual member hangout spaces for real-time chat around hobbies, interests and topics beyond core products.
Integrating Community with Core Products/Services
The community should tightly integrate with your central offerings through:
Use single sign-on so members access your product and community with the same credentials for seamless navigation.
Usage Status and History
Within community profiles, display members’ usage, history and accomplishments related to your product.
Relevant Alerts and Activity Feeds
Push product alerts like order updates and new feature releases to community feeds alongside social activity.
Exclusive Help Resources
Provide community access to deep help resources and documentation to master using your product.
Enable members to submit product enhancement ideas and vote on suggestions from others they want to see developed.
Early Access to New Features
Give members first access to try beta versions of upcoming product capabilities prior to broad release.
Measuring Community Impact and Engagement
Track metrics to quantify community outcomes and fine-tune programs. Relevant KPIs include:
Member Acquisition and Retention
Analyze new sign-ups, retention cycle, and churn rate of members. Set goals to improve over time.
Engagement and Activity
Track page views, time on site, content contributions, and participation for average and segment level engagement scoring.
Compare product usage and retention metrics between members vs. general customers.
Measure value of community through new referrals, revenue, insights, content created, and other business contributions.
Survey members on perceived value, feature requests, and satisfaction with the community experience and content.
Weigh revenue and retention value driven against costs to operate community for total ROI.
Thriving private communities strengthen bonds beyond transactional interactions alone. Key lessons to keep in mind:
- Define target member profiles and value propositions upfront
- Structure exclusive benefits and tiers to continually delight members
- Facilitate social connections between members
- Produce engaging content and experiences reserved for members only
- Tightly integrate community with broader product experience
- Analyze activity and business value metrics to refine community over time
By cultivating members-only engagement hubs, you deepen relationships with your most passionate customers for the long haul.
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Customer Retention & Loyalty*
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Nurturing Customer Relationships with Ongoing Value and VIP Treatment
- 1 Creating Communities and Membership Sites for Ongoing Engagement
- 1.1 Introduction
- 1.2 Defining Goals and Target Member Profiles
- 1.3 Structuring Compelling Membership Tiers and Benefits
- 1.4 Cultivating Interactions Between Members
- 1.5 Creating Exclusive Content and Experiences
- 1.6 Integrating Community with Core Products/Services
- 1.7 Measuring Community Impact and Engagement
- 1.8 Key Takeaways