We had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Morrison from ‘The Membership Guys’ on our blog. We discussed how to create a powerful membership website, how to stand out from the crowd and gain your member’s attention, the importance of member engagement and ways to measure it. Please read on for the full interview below.
Mike Morrison speaks about creating a powerful digital presence and winning your members’ attention
Q. You have been such a key figure in the Membership Sector for so many years, can you tell us a little bit about how you’ve seen the sector evolve recently in the digital realm?
A. It’s definitely easier than it’s ever been to build a powerful membership website thanks to more and more platforms and plugins becoming available. Membership sites can be a lot more than just a basic protected section on your website for content and downloads – now you can add in-depth gamification, complex e-learning features and dynamic community tools without necessarily needing to be tech savvy.
Q. What do you feel are still some of the main challenges for Membership Organisations in today’s digital world?
A. There’s a lot of competition online for your member’s attention, so you need to find a way to stand out from the noise rather than simply becoming part of it.
Is your membership website more compelling or entertaining than watching funny cat videos or reading about what the Kardash-whoever’s are up to this week?
Now that’s an exaggerated yardstick to be measured by – but the point is that your competition doesn’t come from other memberships, it comes from other distractions.
From a tools and tech standpoint there still isn’t a really great market for solutions which help you track your numbers online. Slowly but surely some tools are emerging but they’re typically designed for SAAS companies or other subscription-based businesses so at times it can be a little like jamming a square peg into a round hole.
Mike Morrison on creating member engagement, measuring KPIs and providing ongoing value
Q. With such a massive shift occurring in the digital landscape over the last couple of years, and a corresponding shift in member expectations from their online experience, many organisations are struggling with the issue of member engagement. What is your best tip for improving member engagement, using online tools or platforms?
A. Community really is key to keeping your members engaged long term, especially online. People are looking for a homebase – especially as their social feeds get more crowded and saturated with ads. Adding a discussion forum or even a private social network to your membership can help people build connections and relationships that give your site the stickiness to retain members long term.
There are also various tools such as Intercom and Drift that let you monitor and respond to engagement, enabling you to identify and communicate with – for example – anyone who hasn’t logged into your site for over 30 days; and this can all be fully automated.
And often it’s the simple touches that have the most impact. Engagement and participation in our community almost doubled with the introduction of a simple weekly ‘round up’ email; where we send all of our members a hand-picked selection of the most popular and interesting community discussions from that week.
Q. What do you think are a few of the most important KPI’s for a membership organisation looking to measure member engagement over time?
A. It very much depends on the purpose your site serves. If it’s simply a place to go to manage your membership subscription and download a handful of resources then there’s not going to be any engagement to measure.
You need to identify your desired actions and the target frequency for those actions to be completed – based on what your membership site consists of.
On a basic level, looking at the average number of site visits, number of logins, frequency of site visits and pages visited per session will give you an overall picture of general engagement.
If you have an e-learning aspect to your site, then you should be looking at course completion rates – what proportion of people starting a course actually see it through. What percentage of your member base have actually started at least one course; and on average how many courses does each member take.
And within a community you’d be looking at topics started, topics replied to, posts “liked” and so on. However, keep in mind that someone not participating in your community doesn’t mean they’re not engaged. As a rule of thumb, around 90% of members in a community won’t actively participate – they’re typically called “lurkers” – but they’ll still likely be extracting value from simply reading discussions that others are having.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our blog readers?
A. Just keep in mind that your membership site is a value exchange. If you want people to pay you on an ongoing basis then you need to deliver value on an ongoing basis.
That means showing up and serving your community, constantly striving to find ways to solve their problems and help them get whatever results they joined your membership to achieve.
Fresh content, new perks and discounts, answering their questions, actively participating in the community yourself rather than just leaving members to it – that’s all part and parcel of delivering a positive member experience with enough value to keep members subscribed long term.
We hope you found this interview interesting and would love to hear your feedback. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us below.
About Mike Morrison
Mike Morrison is a founder of The Membership Guys, along with his partner Callie Willows. Together they have a combined 25+ years in the online marketing and web industry, and have been involved with hundreds of membership sites. They now run a Member Site Academy which offers extensive courses, tools, resources & support for membership organisations, helping them to build and grow their online membership.