Membership Sites Made Easy

June 14th, 2010 by - Posted in Marketing Your Site

The Specialist Information Providers Association (SIPA) holds their annual conference in June every year in Washington DC. Everytime I go I learn some actionable tips from some very interesting speakers. This year was no exception, so here are 12 tips I jotted down (in no particular order):

1) Email sign-up box – Extensive user testing on where to place the email sign-up box on the homepage revealed that sign-ups increased by 25% when positioned on the top right-hand side of the page versus the top left-hand side. This shows the importance of testing.

2) Action buttons – Testing also shows that warm colors (red, orange, yellow) on call to action buttons such as ‘Buy now’, ‘Submit’ and ‘Free trial’ have a better click through rate than buttons with cold colors (blue, green, grey).

3) Email newsletter benchmark numbers – No two email newsletters are the same, but it is still useful to get average figures to help us benchmark our own performance. One big managed email newsletter service provider gave us these average figures:

a. Percentage of visitors to a site who sign up for a free newsletter ~ 3.7% (seems high to me)

b. Delivery rate ~ 99%

c. Open rate ~ 22% (the open rate depends on your sector or niche)

d. Click-through rate ~ 4.7% (again, this is dependent on your sector or niche)

4) Email subject line – When writing a subject line for an email newsletter or sales letter the first 25 characters are the most important.

5) Google Analytics tip – Go through your keyword list and identify the relevant keywords which have a high bounce rate. This means people are using Google to search for terms that are relevant to your site, but when they arrive on a page they immediately leave. Once you have identified these failing keywords do a Google search and see which page on your site they take you to. Why is this page failing?

6) Social Media Marketing – It is better to focus on just two social media channels and do a great job with them rather than try to be present on dozens of social sites, and do a poor job of keeping them up to date. The suggested two sites were:

a. B2B – Twitter and LinkedIn Groups

b. B2C – Twitter and Facebook Fanpage

7) Duplicate Content and Google – It is well known amongst SEO experts that if Google finds multiple copies of the same article on the internet it removes them from its index so they don’t get listed on the search results pages. This is only partly true. If Google finds multiple copies of an article and all of those copies link back to the original version, Google WILL index the original. Therefore if you allow other people to publish one of your articles make it a condition that they link back to the original.

8) Paid subscription renewals – The message came across loud and clear that the most successful subscription websites still phone their existing members to persuade them to renew. Email reminders will work for some so should be tried first but for many personal contact is still required.

9) Perception of value always trumps real value – Focus on making perceived value very high compared to the purchase or subscription price.

10) Online marketing – The three skills that every website owner should learn are:

a. Google Analytics

b. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

c. Google Website Optimizer

11) Existing customer gold mine – It is usually easier to get existing customers to give you more money than to sign-up new customers. Continually think of new things you can sell to your existing customers.

12) The evolution of digital content – Digital content is permanently separated from its physical form. The same information, music or software can be consumed from a desktop, laptop, iPad, or smartphone. Publishers must learn to create content once for use on multiple devices.


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