This was originally published over at memberup.co.
Last June, when SkyVerge announced their new membership plugin for WooCommerce, I wrote an article about why every eCommerce business should have a membership offering.
If you missed that, here it is in two sentences – Getting customers to come back is vital to growing an eCommerce business. The membership model delivers a whole new type of experience for consumers and, in return, gives businesses a steady line of predictable revenue that they can grow on.
I had the privilege to explain myself a little further at WooCommerce’s annual conference, WooConf.
The very best things about the membership model are also what is so desperately needed by ecommerce shops to figure out how to get your slice of the pie.
That would include:
- Building loyalty and buy-in with your customers
- Giving people a reason to come back
- Giving people a reason to care about your business at a deeper level than just a product they wanted at one point in time
“Attracting a customer costs 5x as much as keeping an existing one” – Meaning you spend 5x more money on things like Facebook advertising, inbound marketing, and referral programs to get a brand new customer to buy than you do to get a repeat customer to buy again.
Adding a membership component to your business (and ultimately creating more customer loyalty) gives you process and a foothold to grow those repeat customers.
Five different approaches of integrating the membership model with your eCommerce store
1. Loyalty or Rewards Program
- Most common – tried and true because it works
- You incentivize with members only discounts on products/shipping and in turn they shop more often with you
- Well positioned, includes additional exclusivity benefits
- Even if your product is not something that lends itself to repeat purchases often, this can help get people in the door who will refer people your way
2. Replenishment model
- Ultra-convenience – don’t run out and have to go to the store
- Can lower your costs – larger LTV & less overhead and you already know how many orders to fulfill
3. Discovery/Curated Products
- See this mostly with subscription box companies
- Personalization is the key here. This is huge, because that’s the next level for selling online is creating a more personalized and unique experience to customers.
- Personalize with expertise to help with shopping experience (i.e. fashion consultant)
4. Value-driven content
- If up to this point, you’re thinking that none of these models are relevant to your business, this is the one to pay attention to. It works for everyone.
- As a part of the membership, you’re teaching them about things that they care about and relate to the products you sell.
- Think of this as a newsletter on steroids. You’re delivering content that matters and has value for people, which builds trust and goodwill with your audience. It adds depth to the customer relationship that can be a powerful influencer on them and keep you top of mind.
- Discounts coupled with engaging content that teaches something that matters to your customers
5. Joining the larger cause (Philanthropy)
- Join the larger cause behind your business
- Get updates about progress and unique/inspiring stories
- Strengthens branding and deepens customer relationship
- Doesn’t have to be “third world country” obvious. If one of the visions of your company is to provide jobs for single moms that give them flexible hours and great pay, invite your customers in to that and give them something to connect with.
These five approaches are also NOT mutually exclusive of each other. They can be combined (and should be combined).
If you were to call me up and ask me, “Alright, Michael, here are my SKUs, this is what my customers are like, what model do you think I should use to create some kind of membership on my site?”
My answer would be: let’s look at all of them. Let’s find pieces of each that can fit together creatively to be beneficial to both you and your customers.
The option is not one or the other.
Bad idea/Good idea
- BAD: Attempting to create an entirely new product. Too much additional work comes with that and pulls your attention off of making your current product awesome. Don’t let yourself get tripped up on what you’re already growing.
- GOOD: Start out with something more manageable and use membership to sell your current SKUs better.
- BAD: Undercutting your costs too much on member discounts. Long term that will hurt you.
- GOOD: Keep margins high, people don’t need massive discounts to be incentivized
- BAD: only thinking in terms of the traditional loyalty programs
- GOOD: Go beyond the discounts. Deepen the customer relationship with value driven content. Be creative with these models.
Needing quick advice on incorporating membership into your online store?
Grab a spot on my calendar here and get my undivided attention on your business.