Okay. I know that title sounds like a ridiculously obvious statement, but you’d be surprised how many people have never considered their online membership at a strategic level and thought about purpose.
But, if you fail to think about it in this way, you run the risk of just uploading ‘stuff’ onto the internet. And let’s face it, the internet has got far too much ‘stuff’ floating about as it is.
Knowing your strategy is critically important. It is the foundation for everything else. It tells you how to structure your content, how to market it, how to set your price and who to compare yourself to – to name just a few things it will help you shape. Get it wrong and you could either invest a fortune in something that no one wants to buy or be so overwhelmed with members looking for the wrong things that your customer support team can’t keep up. So, take a step back and give this a bit of thought.
If you are a learning specialist, your mind is probably heading towards learning outcomes. And, if e-Learning is what you are considering, then that’s definitely part of this step. But, transfer of skills and knowledge is only ONE reason why you might be looking at online content.
Stu McClaren, who is an online marketing expert in the US, considers that there are four basic types of online membership (and he creates a neat four-box model with them which, as a former consultant, I rather like):
- Mastery (so skills, education, learning, self-development). These, he says, can command high monthly membership fees and have relatively low membership turnover.
- Need (providing a service so you don’t have to – think veg boxes and recipe sites). People will pay to make their lives easier, but they’ll flip from place to place so the membership churns a fair bit
- Community (being in a place with like-minded people, who share your interests and challenges in life). Here, people will join and potentially stay for a long time – but they won’t pay a lot for it.
- Entertainment (as the name suggests, services which distract and amuse). Low price, high churn is the model here and the biggest challenge is that there are one or two really major players in this space (Netflix, Amazon Prime and Love Films for example) who make it really hard for smaller businesses to compete unless they have something really unique and different.
So, which one of these does your brilliant idea fit into? Do you know? Had you even thought about it? And, once you know which, make sure you spend a bit of time thinking about what that means for how you design your online experience.