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A clear sense of purpose and well defined audience are the foundations of a great online membership service. With these building blocks in place it is time to go a little deeper and start planning.

Planning has a number of aspects to it – all of which inter-relate. As one strand of the plan becomes clear it feeds into another. For me, I like to start by outlining what’s known as the ‘member journey’ – which is a step by step view of what it feels like for a customer who uses  online membership. Once you have this, the content needed and the other tasks to set it up all ‘hang off’ the steps in that journey.

Let me give you an example. Suppose you want to create an online training course for people wanting to get the best from their blogging. Your member journey might look a bit like this:

  1. Search on Google for ‘courses on blogging’
  2. Find website and watch intro video
  3. Click for more information
  4. Sign up – receive confirmation e-mail
  5. Access to the site – log in e-mail
  6. Welcome pack sent
  7. Follow up e-mails to help get started
  8. Complete first module
  9. “Well done” e-mail
  10. Issue challenge to create a blogging plan
  11. ….

And so on. Can you see how, to make all this happen for your customer, all sorts of actions are coming up?

  • Write website copy
  • Film an introductory video
  • Create the contact form on website
  • Register and set up online payment system
  • Set up membership site
  • Develop a welcome pack
  • Write follow up e-mails
  • Decide what to include in each module
  • Develop the videos, worksheets, podcasts, guides, etc for each of the modules

And so on….

It may feel a bit alarming at this stage – all that stuff to do – but remember that your members are getting this level of service from all their other online memberships. Also keep in mind that, while there is a lot to be done, it doesn’t all have to be done before you launch (more on that in another blog). What’s more, once it is done, other than fine tuning, everything you develop will be relevant for every member so it only needs to be written once.

What’s more, by thinking properly about the journey your members go through, they are going to get more from their experience with you and stay for longer. Longer, more successful memberships are what it is all about.

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