I was once a member of the He-Man fan club. I've kept that secret to myself for nearly 25 years and it feels good to finally admit it. My Masters of the Universe name? Kalvos (although I preferred the shortened form, Kal).
On payment of a membership fee I was given a free badge, an ID card and a free packet of candy. As a kid that's all that was needed. If I was paying an annual fee for a membership now however, I'd feel slightly short-changed by such a paltry return. Basically, members want more.
You may think the options are limited when it comes to providing content for your membership site, so we've compiled a list of things you can do to provide your members with more bang for their buck and keep them engaged with your brand (hint: free candy should be an absolute last resort).
1. Let's Hang Out
Be it live coverage from marketing events and talks or live guitar tutorials, customers will enjoy being able to interact with you. One great tool to consider is Hangouts on Air where you can invite up to ten people into a live chat/tutorial/presentation. This allows you to talk directly to your members while any number of other people can view the hangout live. The resultant recording gets automatically uploaded to YouTube meaning you can add that to your website as content too.
You could offer participation in the hangout as part of a competition or just select 10 members at random. Either way, it's engaging and interesting. Make sure it's well advertised on the front page of the website and social media to maximise the audience. The more people who see it the better.
2. Exclusive Podcasts
Offering downloadable podcasts allows members to make the most of your content whilst they're on the go. Simple to set up, and easy to record you can even set up a private Soundcloud group which effectively creates a private database whilst also giving you the option of embedding any podcasts direct to your site. Plus it looks nice.
E-readers are big business so it's safe to say that e-books would be greatly welcomed by your membership. As an expert, you have more than enough knowledge and content to condense into a kindle-friendly format. Choose a specific topic and offer it as a download direct from your site. Again, this allows members to engage with your business while they're on the go, meaning they're not solely staring at a computer screen when interacting with your work. And it's not that tricky, you can create your very own using Word.
4. 1-2-1 Skype Sessions
The opportunity to pay for exclusive one to one sessions with experts or coaches would provide a great service for those who struggle with particular concepts or ways of learning. Being able to ask physical questions to someone who really knows their field would be a huge benefit, and paying for their 'real' time face-to-face is a sure-fire way to help people set out to do what they want to do, and progress to the next level. Much like Google Hangouts a 1-2-1 Skype session could also be offered as a competition or just as a benefit to a random member.
5. Annual Networking Events or Members' Dinner
Being able to invite like-minded members to an event where they can share their ideas and meet each other is a great way to build the platform and make everyone feel personally involved. Industry experts will be able to share their ideas, and members will be able to meet them in person and ask any questions they have. This in turn will help members sign up for more and more once they've met and built a rapport with their teacher and know who's giving them expert advice.
A regular weekly or monthly newsletter let members keep abreast of the latest activity on your blog but also allows you to explore wider news in your given field. It's added value and also keeps your business fresh in people's minds. Keep it brief and entertaining and you'll see the benefit.
So there you have it, six effective ways to engage your audience; candy, ID cards and badges optional.