Building a Smarter WordPress Membership Site
If it's been a few years since you've looked into creating a membership website, you might want to take another look.
There have been some significant improvements in WordPress membership plugins that give you a degree of freedom that was virtually unheard of in the not-so-distant past.
And we're not talking about "fly by night" WordPress plugin developers that will be here today and gone within six months, we're talking about a company that has been in membership software space for close to 10 years!
This video is an introduction into what is possible with membership websites and discusses:
- The three styles of memberships
- Smart vs. "Dumb" Membership sites
- The "Brain" behind a smart membership website
- The software that made me change gears and finally build a real membership site
- Where to go for more information if you're looking to build a "smart" membership site
This video clocks in at just over 26 minutes, but should get you up to speed fast on membership site setups for WordPress that can help to grow your business in many ways.
The audio isn't that great....so if it drives you nuts, just skip below it and go through the transcript instead.
All right, welcome to this quick presentation on membership site membership site technology in 2017. I'm going to try to keep this brief into the point, but membership site software has really evolved in the last few years while also becoming...a lot more affordable.
So the result is that you can create what I'm calling a 'smart website' today quickly and easily without spending tens of thousands of dollars while you still get to own the platform that you can build your business around.
So before we get right into it, I'm going to start with some basics.
Starting with me.
This is me, uh, actually a picture from earlier today. So, uh just had to share that with you.
Um, and if you see my picture before no, I'm not trying to 'catfish' anyone I uh recently decided to grow a beard for the first time since my 20s and who knew it was going to be grey?
So, yeah, I guess that's what happens when you don't grow a beard for a few decades.
But anyways, so we're gonna have some explanation here on what's going to be on this webinar. We're going to start with the basics like:
- What is a membership site?
- The three types of membership access
- Some basic content delivery methods were actually not going to go into that too much because I want to keep this quick but we'll touch on it
- And an introduction to some membership site software that I think you might be happy to find out about
...so let's just start with...
what is a membership site?
So up until recently the technology that would protect your content and make sure somebody paid or somebody emailed, you know, it signed up with an email. It was actually pretty stupid. I'm referring to here is sort of like a stupid cake keeper. So here's an example of a stupid geek keeper if anyone seen the black knight, uh in the movie Monty Python's Holy Grail anyone happened remember what happens to?
The Black Knight like look at him here. Doesn't he? Look he looks cool. He looks imposing. He's got this. Uh, he's all black. He's got this huge long sword. But what happens to him? It turns out while he looked pretty cool. He was actually pretty stupid and thus easily defeated. So that's kind of like what these membership software platforms were like in terms of, you know, keeping people out.
Um, so if you if you have a stupid, You know quote-unquote it down membership site some of these might sound familiar to you.
Have you ever had a website that only allows paid access even if you want to give somebody free access?
Or you have free access that you can give people but the visitor has to fill out a huge form with all types of fields in it, which is going to kill any sort of interest in somebody signing up for something for free or might show, you know, a credit card or something like that so scares people into thinking they have to pay whenever you're you're promoting a free membership?
Have you ever had a membership site where you can't manually add someone? Say you want to put somebody in as administrator to test out your membership make sure it's all working, but for some reason you can't do it unless they have to pay to get in like even if it's like a minimum of $1.00. That's pretty annoying.
Also, if you if you can't give access to specific content inside of your membership, so whether it's a single page or whether it's a couple of pages you have to either grant full access or nothing at all.
If that's the case then congratulations, you were working with dumb membership site software.
So I have a little bit of good news for you...it wasn't your fault. If you couldn't get it to work the way you wanted to work. There are better options available now and three it's cheaper than you might think considering how smart you can make your website today.
So I mentioned earlier that there was a third type of membership site. So we talked about free in quotation marks because you have to submit your email address and we had paid so the other one that actually I'm really excited about. When it comes membership sites is what I'm referring as restricted access.
Restricted Access Membership
So what the heck is restricted access well instead of having a dumb gatekeeper like the black knight from the Holy Grail movie the restricted access you can actually restrict access and it doesn't have to be paid. Doesn't have to be free it can actually be both isn't that kind of weird? It can be based on Merit so it could be based on what people are actually doing on your site which is why I like to call this, you know smart because it's almost like it's self aware.
So you can reveal restricted content to members whether they're free or paid based on the actions that your members take. So this is possible when you have a smart website, its membership software. That's like it actually has a brain. So here's a scenario for you in case you're just, you know, trying to wrap your head around this.
So say you had. Free content plus restricted content. How would that work? Or what would it look like? Well, you could have a free membership, you know, let people opt-in and you deliver what you promised. Let's say it was a four-day, you know PPC class. Here's you know, here's how you start with Google Adwords and you know day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4.
And you know, this is a free membership you probably trying to use it or if not, I recommend this you should be using this free content to display your Authority demonstrate the quality of your training and ideally the kind of upsell people into your paid membership from your free membership, right, but you could also unlock bonus content for the people who went through all of your free training.
Or so, I mean that's one so that that would be restricted content. So technically not everybody gets it who signs up for the free content only the people who went through the entire thing because as you know, people sign up for free stuff and then because it's free, they might not get around to finishing at her they got busy and they're like, you know, there's no there's no rush this things free.
It'll be there whenever I get back to it. Well, the people who actually do it maybe you know, you can you can give them a special bonus because they went all the way through. The other thing you could do is put a time limit in so now you're getting this smart membership, you know protected content and you can offer it to somebody who say completes your course in seven days.
And you could use this as a tactic to get people to progress through your class. Quicker or if you want to purely just reward People based on Merit. Maybe you hold that close to your chest. You don't tell them that they get bonus, but still you offer it just to the people who get your course done within a maybe you hint that maybe you say, you know, good things happen to the people who get through the first seven days, uh get through the training within seven days.
That's the possibility that you have with restricted content using a smart membership site. That's how you can use your membership sites to help Market your paid membership, you know, so doing the free content, like I said earlier and it also allows you to discover who your best prospects are because a they're completing your course or they're completing it faster and everybody else and you can treat those people like individuals instead of just having this the dumb kind of bodyguard gatekeeper who just keeps everybody out or let's everybody in.
You can just you can let certain people get special exclusive access based on what they do and what they don't do and the cool thing is you don't have to do this. You don't have to be chained to your desk doing this manually all the time because the software is smart. So it knows what's going on knows who your contacts are a smart membership site.
Pretty much does all the heavy lifting for you once you have it set up. So enter active campaign as the brain for our membership site. So if you're not already familiar with active campaign, it's um, it's an email service provider, uh, marketing email marketing software that um provides all kinds of uh, cool automation functionality.
A big difference with it compared to some of the other autoresponders out there like getresponse aweber is that it's tag-based so that means. Those other systems were using lists. So you would sign up and you would be added to a list and then you know, maybe you have a prospect list. You have a buyer's list.
So you got 10 different products. Maybe you got a list reads product. It basically would snowball out of control. You have all these lists all over the place. And you'd have to be able to come up with rules so that okay, if they're on the buyers list, then they come off this list. So you basically became you're managing all these lists and even worse if you had a contact on multiple lists, you were off to getting charged for the same contact repeatedly, so if they're on five lists you're paying for the same person 5 times so that really sucked and I know some of you are probably saying hey Mike.
Guess what Weber's got tags now, our getresponse has got tags now. Yeah, but you know what playing catch up because their whole system was not set up this way active campaign has had tags for a while now and there's some really cool stuff that you can use tags and you don't get charged. You get charged only for a unique email address doesn't matter how many lists that they're on or how many automation so that's really cool.
So it stores a contact record. So again that that unique email address is attached to the contact and that contact. Basically, once you integrate with your website, you can see what they're up to. So like you can track their activity on your site in the contact record. So if John Doe signs up on my site John Doe at gmail, I can go into the contact record and I could see you know, when John Doe signed up I can see what what pages he has visited on my site and the other thing that's really cool is that initially activecampaign doesn't know.
Who the person is who's visiting your site? They're Anonymous but it does track them regardless. It tracks like the IP address and all that stuff and then once somebody spin for like a lead Magnet or something that come into your active campaign account. They have a contact record created activecampaign kind of mixes and matches them together and says, hey wait a sec recognize this guy's IP address and then connects it with.
They're now registered email. So you get more data even before you know, who they are. So active campaign is also where you you create the tags, that's where the tags live, uh with the contact record. It's virtually unlimited automation creation potential like it's got more triggers. Well, I don't think there's any other software out there that's got more startup triggers.
Then active campaign so active campaigns either doing it or at least the very Head of the Class. So that's that's really cool because that allows you to do more with your automations and exactly what is what I just said there the unparalleled amount of triggers and perhaps most surprisingly is it's very powerful and very affordable so you can start with active campaign for as little as.
With for 500 contacts that is really quite good and that's with full access. You can create as much automation as you want for that. So that's that's why I really I really like active campaign. So as a brain active campaign is your brain when you factor that into a membership site now you're getting a smarter membership.
So we're going to use active campaign as the brain and people can access the exact content. You want them to access when you want them to access it. So we're going to use the tags of control contact, uh content regardless of whether they paid for it or not. Because like as a said we do have restricted content we can do right?
You have complete control. This is more secure because not only are you going to restrict access to content based on someone's email or whether they pay it or not, but you're also going to restrict access based on the tags they do or do not have
and it's going to integrate with WordPress. That means it's affordable and we can customize it the way that we like. And in the past this was impossible. Well, okay a smart membership was virtually impossible unless you have a team of developers you had tens of thousands of dollars to invest in customizing your site or you know you wanted to.
To create your own platform from scratch and if everything broke after you built it well good luck getting it fixed because it would be like a unicorn it only be a certain. You know, nobody else would have a site like that. So it cost you probably hundreds or thousands just to get it fixed.
So sorry as I was saying here unicorn so I'm a little bit behind on my bullets. But now we have active member 360. That's the name of the software. We're talkin about that led to have a smart website integrates with WordPress. It integrates with active campaign even better. It allows both WordPress and active campaign to talk to each other so that your website is become smart.
It recognizes your visitors can tell who is supposed to have access to what and allow them to view it accordingly. So we have the best of both worlds. We have the protector but. This time he's a little bit smarter and we also have a connector because it's just the beginning having a brain. Active campaign talks with WordPress active member as you can see, it's the blue circle right in the middle.
So it's connecting in this diagram. It's connecting activecampaign on the left in the orange circle. WordPress on the right green circle and woocommerce which just happens to be a free eCommerce platform for WordPress and it's extremely popular to think the biggest, uh, e-commerce, uh software online if I'm not mistaken and.
It also connects with a bunch of other apps that you can see up in the top and the red circle. There's contact form 7 which is uh, it's a great contact form builder for WordPress that's free. Then we've got learn - and lifter which are both learning management systems and then badge, ah, sir or badge.
Which allows you to do bring elements of gamification into your membership site. So I call it the connector in case you recognize as red from Shawshank Redemption played by Morgan Freeman. He was the connector. He was the guy in prison who could get you things right? So that's almost like what active members doing for you?
It's connecting you with all these other extensions so that you're making even more robust. Membership site it allows active member allows all these different apps to talk to each other and work together when they're supposed to so it's a really big benefit.
So just a little bit more about active member in case you'd like to know more about it. Um. Not only can it do all this stuff. But on a single license, you can use it on all of your websites as long as it's integrated with the same active campaign account. So as I said before, you know fully integrates with active campaign and WordPress.
It restricts your content with tags, you can use it on unlimited WordPress websites, as long as they are all on the same active campaign account. Oops, sorry and um, it's also affordable because it costs less than $20 a month for their premium version. So for $20 a month plus a $9, um, Active campaign account you can build a smart website.
You can have your unlimited automations and you can hook up with you know, any of those apps that we were talking about earlier, so just to review. We discussed free memberships. We talked a little bit about paid memberships and we talked about the newer type of membership, which I like to call restricted access memberships because.
They don't have anything to do with necessarily being free or paid. It's up to you. We talked about dumb membership protection, which doesn't really work that they almost causes more headaches for you is the site owner, um than it does like helping you to Market your site or to manage your site and we just talked about smart membership protection, which allows you to do free paid or restricted access memberships allows you to help.
Market your membership because you're going to be able to place restricted content or very specific content to specific people at the right time. So it's decision time. So if you hate technology if you hate WordPress if you hate active campaign if you hate websites in general. Then you probably are not going to be interested in active members really 60s.
Probably not going to be the right membership site for you. But if you like having the ability to customize your website if you're cool with figuring figuring things out, um, You know experimenting have a small budget then you can actually own your your platform your membership platform instead of renting it from a site from a different site.
If you love active campaign, if you love WordPress and if after listening to this presentation, you love the idea of having a smart website versus, you know, the dumb kind of geeky / that you know causes almost more trouble than it solves then. Recommend check out active member 360 go to this URL active member 360 as well.
If you'd like to have more training on how to use active member 360 how to build a smarter membership website how to integrate with some of those other cool apps that I talked talked about today, then you can go and check out. My website employee Exit Plan. There's going to be some free training there that will walk you through the basics the fundamentals get you up to speed fast.
The purpose of this training is to take somebody from scratch. Give them a chance to get a membership site up and running on their website in 30 days or less now, 30 days sounds like a long time. So it's not going to take 30 days. But the only reason why I mentioned 30 days is because active member actually does let you have a 30 day free trial.
So you have a full 30 days to test at the platform. With full access and see if you like it. So my training is going to help you to get setup up and running well before 30 days. So you got a chance to put it through its paces and decide if it's right for you now. 20 bucks a month, I think it's a no-brainer.
They actually have uh, a lesser version sort of like a light version which I believe is just about 10 bucks a month. So if you can get by with that all the the fancy Integrations with other apps and you just want basic smart website, like a basic, um, content protection and active campaign and WordPress then that can work for you, too.
But you know either way it's your budget. It's your decision what it's what makes sense for your website.