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Membership Sites

11 critical mistakes to avoid in a membership site. Part 1 of 3

4 mistakes relating to customer experience

Ok, if you have been following along with this article series, you now know ( a ) why you need a membership site, ( b ) several different ways to set them up, and ( c ) some real-world case studies on how other people are using their membership site.

Hopefully, you have taken my suggestions and have created (or are creating) a membership site for your ‘herd’ of followers. If you have, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

In this fourth article in our membership series, we’ll dig deeper and begin discussing common critical mistakes to avoid.

1 - Not enough value
Whether your membership site is free or paid, you have to give your members a reason to be members and a reason to go to your site and log in…again and again. It is pretty easy to keep them interested….set up a blog, or a forum, and then start discussions and encourage participation.

Those discussions do not always have to be 100% related to the topic of the membership site. On my site, I have a forum and often make forum posts on tips related to things other than JoomFuse. For example, I recently posted on how to use videos, quizzes and surveys on a website; while not directly related to JoomFuse, it was website and member-building related.

KEY: Content is king, so make sure that you give them a ton of it to keep them coming back for more.

2 - Complicated user interface
Simply put — if I need a PhD in user interface design to navigate to the material I want or need, then I’ll go elsewhere. It may seem uncomplicated to you, but you designed it, so your opinion doesn’t count! Get outside, objective people to play with it and give you feedback.

KEY: Remember, it is what the members want, not what you want.

3 - Poor user experience
Broken links, slow response, images that takes weeks to load, your site is not responsive — the list goes on. You must strive to present a stellar user experience.

Get your friends and trusted clients to test your site. Is your hosting service too slow? I see too many businesses spend a ton of money on marketing the sabotage themselves by only being willing to pay $9.97/year to host their company website. Very shortsighted! That is why I searched for a great hosting partner and when I found one, I offered high-performance hosting to my clients.

KEY: Are your videos and images optimized for the web? Do you use a specialized video hosting service like Vimeo or Wistia? Your members will likely cut you a little slack, but if the poor user experience goes on and members get frustrated, they’ll leave and not return.

4 - Bad customer service
It does not matter whether your site is free or paid, a hobby or a business — if you want members to stay, you have to give them great customer service. This is a way to really differentiate yourself from your competition (oh yes, you hobby site owners out there, you have competition too!).

Sadly, we have been dumbed down to accept lousy customer service as the norm. How about if you start to turn that trend around? It is really not hard to have better customer service than 90% of your competitors. For example, simply answer your customer inquiries in a few hours rather than the normal few days.

KEY: Think about what drives you nuts when you are dealing with businesses (on-line, and brick-and-mortar), see how it relates to your membership site, and then don’t do it.


What’s next?
Next month, Part Two of the 11 Critical Mistakes to Avoid - we’ll use a case study to dive into the 3 mistakes relating to the content you deliver and what you might be missing.

Originally published in Joomla Community Magazine.