HubSpot membership site training

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I'd appreciate your thoughts/feedback of the following idea if you're thinking of creating a training/membership site in 2017. I've moved over to HubSpot as a Partner because the methodology, tool and community is more aligned with the 'adding value' nature of building communities and membership sites that I believe in.
 
In the last week or so, I've had a number of clients mention that they are looking to create a training course or membership site in 2017.  This is what I specialise in and when I couldn't find a wordpress membership site plugin that integrated seamlessly with HubSpot I created one late last year (which is a whole other story!).
 
I went back through my membership site clients' earnings in the last year and realised it was over $1million!!  Ranging from $77kUSD to $300kUSD. The significance of those values to me isn't the monetary element (even though I'm pretty pleased with that), it's more the value that has been created for so many people/members. That got me thinking...
 
I'm thinking of creating a membership site and training about how to create and grow a training/membership site (sounds funny I know!).  I'm going to have limited capacity to consult one on one with clients next year but want to help my clients grow their authority and thought leadership through membership sites.
 
I jotted down a few ideas about the sorts of things I build and do when I create a training or membership site and I thought it might make it a whole lot more affordable for my clients if I created some training for them with a weekly webinar or hangout where they can ask questions.
 
Below are some of the topics I thought of off the cuff. If there are any others that come to mind for you or you have questions about, let me know and I'll include them in my list.
 
At the moment it's just a thought bubble, but I respect this group's opinion and thought I'd run it past you to see what you think. Is this something that you would find helpful?  What other topics would you like answers/training for when it comes to setup and management of a membership site? etc.
 
 
Topics that I brainstormed below:
 
Membership Site Structures
  • Training program - instant access
  • Training program - drip feed
  • Membership site - ongoing evergreen content
  • Forums vs Facebook
  • Considerations for content frequency: e.g. weekly, monthly
  • Fremium - e.g.. Mixergy
Pricing considerations
  • Full payment up front
  • Payment plans
  • Annual
  • Monthly
  • Weekly
Wordpress setup for content
  • Themes
  • Payment gateways 
  • Security
Membership plugin(Inbound Member) & HubSpot workflow setup
  • Membership levels
  • List/Content Tiers
  • Membership fulfilment workflow
  • Change Password workflow
  • Forgot password workflow
  • Membership upgrade workflow
  • Membership downgrade workflow
  • Membership suspension
  • Membership reactivation
  • Free promotional access
  • Membership inactivity nudge
Sales funnels
  • Lead opt in to purchase
  • Long term nurture
  • NPS for memberships
  • Flash sales
  • Event promo’s e.g. Christmas, Black Friday etc
Retention strategies
  • open loops
  • overlapping content
  • disappearing bonuses
  • upcoming events
  • easy adoption / getting started
  • habitual content
  • evergreen content management
  • consumption monitoring
  • participation rewards
  • content contributors
  • status building
Product ascension strategies to maximise profit
  • Tripwire
  • Core content
  • Product addons
  • Personal attention
  • Member initiated products
  • Events
RFM analysis
 
Other
  • Setting expectations for members eg. how much time each week to allow for content consumption and action taking
  • Member generated content
  • Other member contribution
  • Expectations of participation in forums

Samantha Alford
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Hey @Samantha_Alford what a great post! Thanks for sharing?

 

Can I ask what sort of businesses/industries you have worked with when building/managing memberships sites. Any case studies / examples?

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Hey @roisinkirby, thanks so much for your feedback!  It really means a lot.

 

So sorry to take so long to get back to you.  I've been taking a bit of a Christmas/New Year holiday break.

 

And also, apologies in advance, this ended up being a much longer post than I planned, but when I get started talking about this it's hard to stop haha!

 

It still surprises me that most businesses would never think of building an online community, whether it’s gated, membership based or not.  They often think it’s outside their core competency and isn’t worth doing.

 

The reality is that their market is gathering somewhere anyway.  So my question is, wouldn’t you rather invite them over to your place to have those conversations?  When your market is gathering in a market that you control, it’s an opportunity for you to:

  • Gain insights for your products - what people like and what they don’t like
  • Gain insights into your buyer persona’s challenges they’re experiencing which can give you ideas for new products
  • Go deeper with your customers and serve them on a level that isn’t possible when it is just a one time transaction

It is considerably more beneficial for businesses to own the platform that their customers hang out on rather than to rely on facebook or twitter because you get a greater level of insight and control relating to the conversation. Your own platform is an environment that you control and can shape however you want.

 

Regarding the kinds of businesses and industries I've worked with, there have been quite a few and I haven't really niched at all.  Everything from Sporting (eg. Obstacle Course Training) to Educational (eg. school lesson plans for library teachers) to Travel (eg. Travelling Frogs which is a short term holiday rental site like Airbnb), as well as professionals like accountants who want to start creating thought leadership and building their community and software providers who are looking to train their users.  There are also a fair few coaches, mentor type businesses as well.

 

Regarding some case studies, I have 3 favourites I often reter to but each one I've worked on is an amazing story in terms of either the influence they've had and change effected, or business/financial outcomes.

 

The first is the school librarian who decided to put her lesson plans online because she was spending hours each week preparing lesson plans and wanted to spend more time with her young kids.  She started looking to buy some instead and couldn't find any.  So she started selling her own.  The problem was that she would be in constant launch mode and was subject to seasonal sales variations eg. back to school times.  So she approached me about discussing a membership site.

 

So for my client, she went from one or two huge sales cycles per year and starving in between to over 700 members at last count, each paying between $29 and $49 per month to get ongoing access to library lesson plans and other teaching aides. Now she has a consistent income stream and pays someone else to create the lesson plans.  She and her husband now have 4 businesses each with a different membership site for different interests/expertise.

 

Case study number two is actually a client that has a full time job but happened to have some friends who are world champion obstacle course racers (think Tough Mudder and Spartan and mud and barbed wire lol). They had a heap of video content on how to get better at obstacle course racing and my client approached me to see if I thought it would make a good membership site.  Hell YES! was the answer.  They launched in around October 2015 and have had hundreds of members go through their programs.  And it's all automated so none of them have to manage the member administration.  They do have a part time community manager though that managers the communications between members and any exceptions to the automated processes (or suggestions for improvements to them).

 

And Case Study number 3 is Travelling Frogs, Australia's version of Airbnb and a startup that launched in February 2016. It's quite a complex website and I use it as my 'best practice' site. Aside from what we've done with all my other membership sites (eg. all the workflows for membership fulfillment, cancellation, upgrade, suspension etc) TF also has quite a sophisticated membership tracking model to check member engagement.  Because there are two very different types of membership with multiple sub categories, TF member tracking is different for Owners vs Guests.  For example, traditional membership tracking for engagement or risk of attrition relates to login dates (eg. if a member hasn't logged in for x days give them a nudge and make sure they feel loved).  Whereas with TF the model is different because Owners don't have to log in to view booking information for guests.  So we track login as well as pages viewed and other emai and site engagement metrics to model overall use of the service.  We're literally rebuilding this modelling at the moment so it's fresh on my mind lol.

 

The issue I had when I discovered and embraced HubSpot and the Inbound Methodology was that I couldn't find any Wordpress membership site plugins that integrated with HubSpot.  So I ended up building one that had all the features of the ones I was used to implementing, but a LOT simpler to get set up.  Now that I'm progressively migrating my sites to HubSpot and they're getting the benefits from all the intell that comes with it, the options are limitless and I'm having fun testing -> review -> test etc.

 

I hope that was helpful and not a terribly boring rant.  If you have any questions don't hesitate to let me know, and if I've missed the points you wanted me to cover just let me know.  I could go on about it for hours.

 

Cheers,

Sam


Samantha Alford
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Occasional Contributor

Hey Sam,

 

I want to build a membership site on Hubspot CMS. Did you make any progress or traction on this idea? 

 

We want all the things you've listed. Is there a plugin or module for this? 

 

Best,

 

Jeff

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I am also interested... any progress made?

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We basically used Zendesk to accomplish our goals and are moving our websites off Hubspot COS. It is expensive without return, and unreasonably rigid. If you choose to move your site off the COS you're stuck with the contract, even if you're out by a month on your launch vs contract timing. I would not reccommend Hubspot COS as it is about as powerful as Wix with more cost burden. We went back to Wordpress. 

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