Dec 21, 2016 11:51 PM
Jan 10, 2017 5:11 AM
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:
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.
Jan 5, 2019 3:35 PM - edited Jan 5, 2019 3:37 PM
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.