Recently, I came across an interesting website – lynda.com – while researching for photography courses online. This website has a good blend of videos to get started with photography from the confines of your home.
Here’s what is interesting though!
On browsing around the website for a bit, I realised that I could access the photography courses by signing up for the paid membership, available as a monthly and subsidized yearly package. That’s not it! As a matter of fact, I could get access to all the courses available on the website by signing up as a member.
My immediate reflex was to see the other categories of available courses on the website. To my delight, it had courses on marketing and web development, topics of my interest. The thought of getting all the courses for an affordable sum of $19.99/ month made me a little dizzy (*exaggeration*) and I had made my decision of signing up for the membership soon.
Why the Membership Model Makes Sense for your LearnDash Website?
Lynda.com has used the psychology of customer consumption prudently. They have understood well that customers wouldn’t mind spending on a monthly basis for a huge repository of data as opposed to a one-time payment for limited data.
Also, in any given situation the human brain is wired to reduce losses. The membership model with its flexibility to opt out of the membership if unsatisfied allows the customer to do just that.
These two aspects together significantly increase the probability of converting a visitor into a customer. (Of course from this point onwards it solely depends on the courses available on your eLearning website). As a website owner, this means increased user base, increased sales and a steady flow of payments from registered members.
Choosing a Membership Plugin for Your LearnDash Website
There are quite a few membership plugins to choose from while setting up the membership module for your LearnDash website. I for one, am going to strongly root for the Paid Membership Pro plugin.
- Paid Membership Pro is available for free. The core plugin and all its add-ons developed by the author will cost you absolutely nothing! This also includes an installation video along with the plugin documentation. That’s where the ‘free festivity’ ends though! For anything more than that you’ll have to become a member. The extra stuff includes one year access to premium content, videos and support and is available at an affordable price of $97.
- The plugin has an extensive list of hooks and filters that have grown over time simplifying the process of customizing the plugin to suit your needs.
- And MOST IMPORTANTLY the plugin has been integrated with LearnDash. The integration too is available for FREE. The integration provides some additional features apart from the vast stock of Paid Membership Pro features that you have access to. These features make the process of including the membership module in your LearnDash website smoother than you can imagine!
How to Make The Most of Paid Membership Pro
1. Give Students an Option of a Trial Period
Yes, giving students all your courses for free for a short while might sound crazy (after all charging people for this data is what your business is about). However, just as crazy as it may be it is important. A customer who is about to invest time and money into your website will definitely appreciate a trial period. (I would!)
Also, it is important to remember that if a customer has registered to make a trial it is not because he doesn’t want to make a purchase. So if you’re confident about the courses on your online learning management system then go ahead and give your students the golden Trial Period.
2. Analyse Member Reports (Regularly)
As a blogger and online marketer, it is very important for me to understand the users that are coming to the website and to do this I use reporting tools. User reports help me streamline the content as well as my efforts in the right direction to maximise outcome.
Similarly, as an administrator of an eLearning website it only makes sense to analyse website members, their preferences and their purchase patterns. Such information will aid immensely in moulding the course content, as well as in putting in place a marketing strategy leading to the end goal of increased sign ups and satisfied customers.
Of course analyzing reports can be mundane, but then who said it wouldn’t be! But believe me, the outcome of this activity will be just as compelling. So, set up the reports in Paid Membership Pro, analyse them and act upon them… Regularly!
3. Stay Connected with Members
The eLearning environment gives you little scope for interaction with your students. So, if there’s room for talk then don’t miss it. This applies from the word Go! Send them notification emails at every step of their membership. They register for the membership, welcome them. They make a payment, send them an invoice. They change their membership level, send them a confirmation. Their membership is about to expire, urge them to renew it.
Such emails not only reassure users of your service but also save you the hassle of replying to client emails for these very same reasons. Paid Membership provides these customizable email templates. USE THEM AND USE THEM WELL!!
4. Pay the Extra Buck
The plugin and all its add-ons are free of cost and who doesn’t like free! In Spite of this my recommendation to you would be to spend that extra buck and get access to to their premium content, particularly their members-only forum. This will help you fix issues with the plugin swiftly (the keyword here is ‘swiftly’) along with being updated on what others are doing with the plugin. Just for once I’d like to say too many cooks will not spoil the broth 😉
5. Give Members a Clutter Free Experience
Being a Marketeer I fully well understand the importance of advertisements on the web. In spite of this I’m not pro-ads. I genuinely feel it kills the user experience. So if you have decided that ads are your thing then at least make them unobtrusive. And yes, do yourself a favour and disable them completely for members using the ‘Hide Ads From Members’ option provided by the Paid Membership Pro plugin. There’s nothing like a clutter free website for a 21st-century internet user!
6. Customize the Plugin to Suit Your Theme
An inconsistent website confuses visitors leading to a disappointing user experience. So if the plugin and theme are not blending as well as you thought it would then it’s time to take notice of it get rid of the eyesore.
By overriding the plugin templates with your theme templates. If you’re not sure how to do this then take a look at these instructions provided by the developers of Paid Membership Pro.
7. Start an Affiliate Program
Whatever your short term goals might be, the eventual goal is to grow the business through achieving these short term goals. One means to hit the bullseye would be through an Affiliate program. A good place to start would be the affiliate plugin integrations provided by Paid Membership Pro. Further, you can make use of your user base to grow it further by making a mention of this program in your emails (the ones I mentioned earlier in my post) and using it as an effective marketing strategy. People using your courses would be the best ones to talk about it after all!
So, that was about the what, why and how of a LearnDash Website with Membership feature. Many might think that growing an eLearning business the membership way is a slow process and probably they are right about it. However though, with the recurring payments aspect coming in this business strategy can bring in sales for longer with top notch courses and channelized marketing.
Have any LearnDash or Membership-related questions? Feel free to ask!
Until the next post, Adios 🙂
Images by freepik