Membership Marketing Strategy

Improving Membership Loyalty By Making Members and Subscribers Feel Like VIPs

Improving membership loyalty is a fun task. It’s human nature to want to feel like you’re a part of something. Church, political parties, fraternities, secret societies, you name it — there’s an endless list of groups that exist purely on this fundamental need. We know what it’s like to feel a part of something, so in many ways, intuition can guide us to build better membership products.

When someone subscribes to your magazine in print and gets it delivered to their door, they don’t necessarily fulfill this need. Memberships do, but simply selling a membership doesn’t mean you’re getting any membership loyalty or giving members any warm fuzzies.

In a recent SIPA article, member retention specialist Robert Skrob, says, “The key I’ve found to subscriber retention is focused on the feeling of the relationship, rather than the stuff they get.” Skrob, who works with Harley-Davidson dealers, says, “Harley motorcycles are a premium product; they sell for 25-30% more. Yet Harley sells more than half of all the motorcycles. Buying a Harley doesn’t get you to your destination any faster. It doesn’t reduce the costs on gas. But instead, it feels different to the owner. It feels like when you ride a Harley, you’re part of a movement, and gives you something to look forward to.” He quips, “Honda focuses on engineering, horsepower and price; Harley focuses on how you feel like a bad&*% when you ride a motorcycle.”

Download a FREE copy of Best Email Subject Lines for Selling Premium Subscriptions and Memberships and discover an extensive list of email subject line frameworks that are consistently proven to sell and boost revenue for publishers.

It’s hard to disagree, as we’ve all been there. The sweet spot of increasing membership loyalty is really delivering both: a comprehensive product with overwhelming value, and a high-touch product. Are Harley’s really the better quality, or do they simply attract an audience of people who want to be part of the club, to say-without-saying that they paid more?

When marketing memberships as a publisher, you can do both really well.

For example, our publishing partner Cabot Wealth Network produces investing newsletters. Most investors know that in order to make money in the market, you need to diversify your portfolio. So someone who subscribes to their Cabot Growth Investor may also be interested in Cabot Dividend Investor, and surely they’re interested in their Cabot Stock of the Week. 

So for this type of investor, they offer Cabot Prime, an all-for-one priced product which includes most of their premium advisories. Each usually sells for anywhere from $297 to $997 each per year, but Cabot sells Cabot Prime for $297 per month. And to promote it, they tell their subscribers that they get 12 advisories for “free” as a benefit of joining.

To improve membership loyalty, the relationship-building portion of this membership is the special access they get to an exclusive annual Wealth Summit, a dedicated investor relations representative, and access to their editorial team to ask for recommendations. The ability to connect directly with the analysts that send out the newsletters each week is an important benefit of membership.

Additionally, for an even more high-touch experience, members can upgrade to Cabot Prime Pro. Right at the top-right of the logged-in member page, they see a special dedicated email and phone number for these VIP members.

Building in community forums is another way to add an interactive member element to your magazine membership website. Hosting webinars that members can join and engage directly with the editorial team is another great way to improve member engagement and retention.

How are you increasing membership loyalty within your membership products? We’d love to know, so share it in the comments.

By Kim Mateus

Chief Strategy Officer

Kim Mateus is Chief Strategy Officer for Mequoda Systems and the Mequoda Systems Content Network where she oversees strategic planning for the organization's 200 plus premium subscription products. Over the past decade, she has guided the development of more than 20 subscription marketing systems including I Like Crochet Network, New England Network and Your AAA Network. She and her team maintain an exhaustive best practices database of subscription marketing techniques and business processes that she uses to advise her clients and optimize the more than 60 websites that make up the Mequoda Systems Content Network. Kim is a frequent speaker at industry events and serves on the board of the Specialized information Publishers Association.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.