How to Grow Your Membership Site

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How to grow your membership site

In this mini-course you’ll learn some of the best practices for growing, scaling and improving your membership site.

Using an affiliate program to grow your membership

One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to acquire more members is to launch an affiliate program (also called a referral program).

This doesn’t have to be complicated!

The main thing is that you must understand your numbers (how much you can afford to spend to acquire a new member while still being profitable), and set up the tech to automate your referral program.

Our article on running your own affiliate program can help. 🙂

7 Easy Steps to run your own Kick Ass Referral Program - How to Grow Your Membership Site


Reducing churn…

Your main enemy in running a membership site (or any kind of recurring revenue business) is “churn”. This happens when your members or customers cancel their subscriptions.

There are a few ways you can combat this.

1 – Save a Sale

One thing that I always tell our customers is to do everything in their power to save the sale when their members email them requesting to quit.

This has to be framed correctly otherwise you might unintentionally cause annoyance and resentment. Let’s look at an example.

If a customer emails you requesting to quit, reply with something like “Of course! I’d be happy to cancel your subscription / refund your payment. May I ask why you’re leaving us? 🙂 I really want to make sure I make the membership valuable and useful for everybody and I’d really love your honest feedback!”

If you take this approach you’re letting the member know that you’ll honor their request and that you’re not making it contingent on their reply to your feedback request. At the same time, the member can voice their concerns to you and you can offer to fix them on the spot. A lot of times this can prevent your members from churning.

I know in our MemberFix business, for instance, that sometimes customers requested to pause or cancel because they simply weren’t aware of all of the different stuff our team can do for them. One conversation cleared it up, and saved the sale on numerous occasions!

It’s considered to be about 7x more expensive to ACQUIRE a customer than to retain them. So FIGHT to keep your members. It’s a much easier battle than going out and finding new members, believe me!

2 – Systemize your referrals and testimonials

It’s very important that you ask your members (after a reasonable period has elapsed) for referrals and testimonials.

The easiest way to ask members for referrals is to implement an affiliate program so that they’re incentivized by cold, hard cash to send prospective customers your way.

In the case of testimonials, you can automate the ask using your email marketing app and / or Zapier.

The main thing in either case is that you make your requests SYSTEMATIC. That is, not sometimes, not when you feel like it, but ALL the time. Happy members are actually delighted to give you testimonials. Video testimonials, in particular, can have a huge effect on your marketing. Our MemberFix landing page has over a dozen video testimonials from happy customers. You think that makes a difference? You bet!

3 – Dunning

One of the ways a lot of membership sites lose members is they fall through the cracks of the billing system.

Most sites use Paypal and / or a payment gateway like Stripe. What often happens is that a member’s credit card expires, or a payment fails because of insufficient funds, or for other reasons entirely.

At this point the member has to manually update their credit card information in order for you to successfully charge them and extend their access in your membership site. But people are lazy, and often will just let their subscription lapse rather than go through the rather small trouble of updating.

It’s on US as membership site owners to make this process easier. And luckily, there are services that automate this process by sending out secure credit card update links and payment retry links to customers when a failed billing event occurs.

A few of the most popular services that perform this function (known as “dunning”) are and

These dunning apps pay for themselves almost right away. And often, pay for themselves many times over. If you’re accepting credit cards for your membership, this is a must!

Read this great article on the Churnbuster blog for some more great retention ideas around the dunning process.

4 – Make your membership “sticky”

Another reason members churn is because they’re just not being engaged enough to give and receive value inside of your membership site.

Membership sites aren’t as sticky as something like Facebook or Instagram. Facebook is an ultimate example of a “sticky” user experience.

Sticky, by the way, is a euphemism for “addictive”!

How does Facebook accomplish this? Well, they play on various psychological quirks like our excitement for novelty, our sense of drama and gossip, constant notifications that interrupt whatever we’re doing to suck us into THEIR app, interdependence with other apps, email notifications, and more.

So the more engaging and sticky you can make your own membership site, the better. A great forum is perhaps the most obvious and easy-to-implement choice.

Some forum apps are very sophisticated in that they have in-app notifications, private messaging, email notifications, groups, and other social media-esque components that keep your members coming back for more.

Another way to do this is to run live events and trainings for your members, which keeps them in anticipation of learning something new and exciting. Some of our customers do this weekly, bi weekly or monthly.

5 – Accepting churn

Churn is a fact of life for membership sites.

You’re never going to completely eliminate it. All you can do is try your best to reduce it. Beyond that, try not to stress when people cancel their memberships. It’s nothing personal. 🙂


Use funnels, you must

Just like you need a systemized way of reducing churn, you also need a systemized way of getting new members in.

The name of the game is to have more members coming in then going out. And the absolute best way to turn strangers into acquaintances, acquaintances into subscribers, and subscribers into customers, is to make use of a funnel.

A funnel can be set up and look many different ways and still be effective. It really depends on your market and on your personal marketing strengths and weaknesses.

For example, a rudimentary (but perfectly serviceable) funnel might look like this:

  1. A free Facebook group
  2. A sales page

In this scenario, strangers join your Facebook group, consume your content, come to trust you, become invested in the community and the outcome they’re seeking, and eventually visit your sales page and sign up for your membership.

Even with this simple setup you can grow a profitable membership so long as you keep growing your Facebook group and presenting the paid offer to your members.

Your funnel can also be incredibly sophisticated and consist of dozens of elements including:

  • Facebook ads
  • Retargeting
  • “Read” magnets
  • Lead magnets
  • Email sequences
  • Webinars
  • Launches
  • Flash sales

…and more!

It’s natural to build and develop your funnels over time.

But if you have NO funnel whatsoever, then eventually most of your members will churn and you’ll have no supply of new members coming in to offset that churn. In a word, you’ll go bust.

So you MUST put some kind of funnel in place.

My preferred funnel building software is ThriveCart (and it’s what we use for all of our payment processing and affiliate marketing.


Add an upsell or two

You don’t necessarily need to get more members or retain more members in order to grow your membership business.

Growth is also defined by the value of each customer. So if you can increase the average order value by adding an upsell into your product catalog, you will effectively grow your business without doing much else.

Please my article on the power of upsells.

the power of upsells 1 - How to Grow Your Membership Site


Help from other membership site owners

The difference between launching a successful membership site and bombing is often how intelligent your approach is, combined with how much support and accountability you can corral. This is where the Member Site Academy comes in…

Complete Course