How to Build a Recurring Revenue Membership Site with Matt Inglot

Posted in

Listen to This Episode

In this LMS cast episode, Matt shares his background in the membership site niche and how he accidentally discovered his interest in building membership sites while helping clients with digital products.

Matt Inglot is the owner of Tilted Pixel and producer of the Freelance Transformation. He is a entrepreneur, speaker, and business coach who has over 15 years of experience in the web development industry. He has also authored several books and courses.

Matt Inglot

Matt is passionate about helping other freelancers and business owners achieve success and has been recognized as a thought leader in the industry. He regularly speaks at conferences and events and has been featured in publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc. Magazine.

Here’s Where To Go Next…

Get the Course Creator Starter Kit to help you (or your client) create, launch, and scale a high-value online learning website.

Also visit the creators of the LMScast podcast over at LifterLMS, the world’s leading most customizable learning management system software for WordPress. Create courses, coaching programs, online schools, and more with LifterLMS.

Browse more recent episodes of the LMScast podcast here or explore the entire back catalog since 2014.

And be sure to subscribe to get new podcast episodes delivered to your inbox every week.

Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place. If you’re looking to create, launch and scale, a high value online training program. I’m your guide Chris Badgett. I’m the co founder of LifterLMS, the most powerful learning management system for WordPress. Stay to the end, I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMS cast. I’m joined by a special repeat guest, his name is Matt Inglot. He’s from tilted We’re going to be getting into some hard won membership growth playbooks that Matt has learned over the years in the membership site niche. This is you’re you’re live, you’re listening to us in your earbuds or you’re watching this on YouTube. You’ve got to pretty hardcore membership site geeks here who are really into this kind of stuff have been around it for a while. And we’re gonna go deep on to something really special, which is what’s actually working in the space these days. Welcome back to the podcast, Matt.

Matt Inglot: Thanks so much for having me, Chris. I’m so excited to geek out on all things membership.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. And we were also both on the membership Success Summit. So if you go over to the membership success It happened recently. You can go find our talks there with some other great people like Pat Flynn and many others. So go check out the membership Success Summit. Just to kind of cue up the audience. Matt, what’s your background in the membership site space? You know, what brought you to your position here, having seen what works? Seeing what doesn’t all your work around freelancing and helping membership sites? What’s the backstory?

Matt Inglot: Yeah, it was all one big accident that got me here. I started building websites for people back in university to get me through school, like many of us, more web Deep Web geek type people do. But I quickly discovered that there were many different types of clients out there, and they weren’t all the same. So I built my share of websites for like lots of local businesses. But then I got very fortunate and I had a few clients that had various types of digital product and membership businesses.

And what I found from that is that they ended up working with me for a lot longer. They got a lot more benefit from working with me. And they just really clicked because it was the same stuff that I was interested in. I love digital products. I’ve sold a few of my own over the years. So I was able to work with these clients very effectively building very custom solutions that allowed them to build a membership site of their dreams. And when I had that realization. I eventually pivoted my agency to only focus on membership sites and see at this point had an agency it wasn’t just me building sites from University.

And I realized, hey, wait a minute, this is the market that we have to go after. And as time went by, not only have we been building these things. But we’ve actually been able to figure out well, what actually works for growing a membership site, what makes it successful, and what allows it to take off because we’ve got the data now we’ve gotten into work with many different types of memberships, we’ve been able to see what growth levers exist to multiply your membership revenue.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. And we’ll mention it again at the end. But just to plant the seed over it tilted forward slash course, what can the listener go find over there.

Matt Inglot: They can find tons of Strategies for Growing your membership revenue, it’s an email series you’ll get where we’ll share some of the ones that are sort of the most tactical, and that you can go and you can start applying to your membership site. And this is again just based on what we ourselves have seen actually has worked on client sites over and over again. So we’re pulling the good stuff out of our playbook.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well we’re gonna get in and reveal some of those in a little bit but first I want to square up with you on terms I’ve noticed over LifterLMS you know where people kind of get hung up on terms whether they call it a course a coaching program a membership site a membership and Academy and online school? A subscription a you know paywall premium content, how do you kind of just to kind of base the audience as we talk about memberships in your world? How do you define a membership site?

Matt Inglot: Man, you’re hitting close to home because I struggle with that every day to be honest a few because of that exact reason. There’s actually so much terminology for the same thing. And at the same time membership can also mean a lot of different other things like stuff scription boxes, right? Subscription boxes are cool. It’s not what we do. So what I’ve sort of tried to do to clarify it a little bit is think about gated content. Right? So you’re accessing a membership site in order to get something more. And that seems to resonate with people gated content. But membership site owners do seem to sort of self identify more broadly as membership site owners.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Yeah, I love that. And that’s something I use a little bit is to clarify membership, I’ll say training base membership site, at least in my world, there’s usually some kind of learning to be had inside the membership, whether that’s course coaching, other like templates and resources. Other kinds of, as you said, kind of gated content. What’s a counterintuitive membership site growth playbook that you’ve kind of uncovered through all your data and experience that is somewhat counterintuitive, or just not very obvious, or was a surprise when you found out hey, this thing over here actually helps.

Matt Inglot: Yeah, I’ll give you my most surprising one. And it is surprising, because we’re first of all, a lot of what we focus on is customer lifetime value of it’s basically that in conversions are sort of the two things you want to focus on. If you want to grow your membership site, you want more people signing up for their membership, but you also want those customers to be as valuable as possible, right, you want them to stick around longer, you want them to pay more, you want to give them more value, so that they’re willing to pay more all of that good stuff.

So none of that’s controversial. The part that was surprising to me is that almost all membership sites out there have a monthly plan. It’s just the accepted norm, that when you build a membership site, you have a monthly plan, and then maybe have a quarterly maybe have an annual, but people always think about their membership site in terms of Oh, it’s $19, a month, $29 a month, whatever it may be. And after working with a lot of clients, and really focusing on this idea of customer lifetime value, we realized that in a lot of cases, this monthly plan is fundamentally flawed, because monthly customers just typically don’t stick around that long.

So we we sifted through tons of data through 1000s and 10s, to 1000s and 10s, of 1000s of customer records on lots of different sites. And we found out that when you have a monthly plan, that person may stick around three months, they may stick around six months, there’s an average, there’s an average lifetime for those customers. And it’s somewhere in that range. So if someone’s paying you $20 a month, times five months, they’re probably paying you about $100 for the privilege of accessing your content, on average.

And that’s probably it. Versus if someone signs up for a year an annual plan, well, they’re gonna pay you at least for a year of content. And as long as you’re delivering enough value, then that’s a very fair exchange, because a lot of our membership sites, they’re kind of front loaded, people are most excited to join at the beginning, and they have the most to learn. But now let’s say that annual plan, you know, gives you a bit of a discount. So it’s $200 a year, or 20 bucks a month, well, those annual customers are going to be worth at least $200. And on average, probably more, versus the monthly plan customers that are only worth $100. And that’s a huge gap, right?

Because even if all your annual customers were to stay for only one year, which is not true, but let’s say they did, you actually they’re worth literally double that of a monthly customer. It is crazy. And what we found when we discovered this is we could remove the monthly plan. And in almost every case, your revenue actually skyrockets. Because yes, a few people might not convert to that annual price. But a whole heck of a lot of them do enough that it certainly makes up for whatever conversion loss you have.

Because your customers worth double, literally double. Right or more oftentimes, it’s a lot more, it’s usually like a three to one or four to one spread between the value of a monthly customer and an annual customer. So it’s counterintuitive. And whenever I tell people that their first like first reaction is like No, this cannot work this way. This is this is not how the world works. I can’t apply this to my site. I can’t it can’t be done. But sure enough, you go and you test it and most of the time it works. And when it doesn’t, there’s usually a few specific factors that prevent it from working.

Chris Badgett: Well, that’s awesome. I love that and I’ve seen that a lot just in my experience with course creators and coaches setting up what we call access plans and LifterLMS a lot of people are really focused on the monthly and they almost think about the annual is like Well, I’m just gonna put that there but If you actually start with that, it just changes the way you think about it.

And I agree with you that for somebody to pay monthly, they have to make the sale 12 times you’re making the sale 12 times a year as opposed to like an annual, all you really need to worry about is the next sale a year from now, which is actually as an entrepreneur a lot easier to plan for in the sense that, of course, we want to add as much value as possible. And if we have 365 days, as we get to this renewal that we want to try and get like, what can we do in that last month to make sure people are getting the value and understand the value of the product? I love that?

Matt Inglot: Yeah. And a lot of times, it sets for you a more fair price, a more fair floor price for your content. Because when I find a lot of membership sites is they give and they give and they give, right? Like usually people are delivering tons of value. It’s not that they’re not delivering enough value. But like, the problem is a lot of content can be consumed in three months. And in which case, there’s sort of a very low minimum fee that people pay to consume everything. If they’re at least paying annual, then they’re at least paying as much as if they had bought it as a course or something.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s awesome. And over the course of a year, you might you have just a lot more time as an entrepreneur to create more value that when it comes time for that renewal decision, you have 300 days to add value plus, not just 30 that’s a that’s an awesome What else have you found in your data? What other membership playbooks can the course creators, coaches and community builders out there? Learn from from your data, your history?

Matt Inglot: Yeah, there’s a lot something else we can talk about as cancellations because people hate cancellations. Right? Yeah. So our response and all that, right, yeah. So a lot of times, they just don’t want to deal with them. Right. It’s the bad thing. That’s the unspoken thing. But I think that’s the wrong way to go about it. Because there’s just so much opportunity when members are canceling to improve your business and to increase their lifetime value, ironically. So I embrace cancellations, I want less cancellations, but I don’t want to ignore the cancellation workflow. So it’s something that we always look at very carefully.

And I can give you a couple things that have worked really well for us one, one is sort of it sounds obvious, but people are not doing this. If someone is canceling find out why. Right? Yeah, make that part of a cancellation process, if possible, make putting something in a form even mandatory, right? Like, we’re not gonna sit there and force you to write you know, the works of Shakespeare and while you’re canceling, but just tell us something, right. And then people will tell you, and that way, you are good at gathering the data that you need to find out why people are canceling. And then the next step, of course, is to act on it.

But then, if you have this data, and you know, like, why people are canceling, the beautiful second step of that, as you can offer a down sell, that is built custom to address some of these objections that people have, right, a lot of a time, let’s face it, people put down price. Well, we just talked about eliminating monthly plans. But you know, what I’ve seen work really, really well is giving them a down sell to a monthly plan, right? Because maybe they they can’t renew at the annual rate or it’s too much of an ask at that point. That’s when you can offer them the monthly and say, Okay, no problem. It’s a little bit more per month.

But here’s a monthly plan, or it’s a little bit less per month than what you’re paying now. But it’s missing these three features, or something else, but basically make the down sell match sort of the typical objections that you’re seeing. So that that’s a second chance to win that customer back, they might not have been willing to spend $200, or they wouldn’t have been able to spend $200 Right now, for $20. And like these benefits, okay, I’ll stay and it’s amazing how much revenue you can recover how much customer lifetime value, you can extend. And some of these members then eventually do upgrade again, especially if you gate down that monthly plan.

So there’s a few things missing, so that there is an incentive to go annual again, when you can. So we’ve turned your cancellation workflow from a leaky bucket to something that’s actually like a revenue generator for you a customer lifetime value extender, and that’s just based on focusing on your cancellations instead of ignoring them.

Chris Badgett: I love that, just a quick pro LifterLMS tip out there we have the ability to hide what we call access plans so that down sell to the monthly if you didn’t want the public to be able to see it but you want to send somebody an email to be able to buy in that way. It’s totally possible. You know what made me fall in love with I’m refund requests. And I 100% agree like ghosts, create a form. Don’t make it too burdensome that they start getting angry at you.

But like, let’s say you had three to five questions that you could ask, besides your name and email, and maybe some of them are just checkboxes or radio buttons. But the thing that made me fall in love with it oftentimes is sometimes fuel. For me as a software guy, if we’re just talking about software memberships, or subscriptions. That reason like why why would you like to cancel? And what made me fall in love with refund requests as sometimes they would say, well, your product doesn’t do X, but it actually does.

And they just didn’t know or couldn’t find the documentation or didn’t know how to do it in that way. So we ended up, you know, like, I don’t know, maybe 30% of our refund requests we actually save, just by helping them realize that they could do exactly what they were trying to do. They just didn’t know how so becomes a customer success challenge over Oh, it doesn’t, it doesn’t do that. But it’s always fun to get those saves in there.

Matt Inglot: That’s actually an amazing tip for sure. Yeah. And that’s, again, the benefit of getting that customer data versus not.

Chris Badgett: And that’s the challenge is, the more successful you are as a coach or a content, get content creators, your library of stuffs gonna get so big, that people are going to have a harder time finding the stuff or connecting the dots to exactly what they need in the moment right then. So that’s why I highly recommend customer success is just as important to sales, especially if you have like a large, you know, body of work, so that you can kind of guide people to the result they want through your content as quickly as possible.

Matt Inglot: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, just on that point as well that you can front load as well, like Absolutely agree if that should be part of the cancellation, and they tell you something’s missing. Go after it, find it. But you can do that as part of the onboarding sequence to like, I’m stealing this a little bit from Lyon, Ryan Levesque, from ask, but I use it a little bit differently. He shared with me this really cool strategy years ago, where when someone signs up for something like your email list, or in this case, your membership, after they receive like the normal welcome email, send them another email, like a few hours later, but don’t brand it right.

Don’t make it like you know, your logo and all the pretty graphics, just use the plain text feature. And just like put a simple subject line, like literally, you could put Hey, right, that’s sort of our typical is put Hey, and and just write it in your own tone as the founder and just say, Hey, I saw you just signed up for you know, such and such membership, we’re really glad to have here, have you can you just hit reply and confirm that you’ve been able to access the material? Right? Yeah, it’s brilliant, because it’s asking for an action.

But then you put one more, you put a little PS. By the way, I’d also love to know what you’re looking to get out of the membership or similar question. Because what you’ve just done is you’ve you’ve created this opportunity for them to engage with you, or your your customer success team, as you were mentioning, and this way, like when you’re gathering very valuable data, why the heck did this person join, but to it gives you that opportunity to point them in that right direction and give them that personalized service right away. And that’s also something that people are also sometimes reluctant to do is engage with their customers.

And to me, that’s completely crazy, right? Like the cost to you to respond to that email is nothing. And if you don’t have enough time to hire someone, right, someone’s just paying you $20 a month for this membership, you can afford an hour of someone’s time to speak to that member to make sure that they’re on the right track. And so that they stick around. That’s part of the broader strategy of onboarding. We find a lot of membership sites we look at, it’s that onboarding experience. That’s also a huge leaky bucket. Right, because they get excited, they join and then not enough stuff happens and not enough onboarding happens. And then they just sort of put that membership in the later pile. And then they end up canceling three months later.

Chris Badgett: Just to drive that point home. I was in a membership for two years, that was 10s of 1000s of dollars a year to help software companies of my size scale. And you know, when I joined there was like a 60 day love it or leave it refund policy. Right? So I was like, Alright, this is super expensive, but I’m taking a risk. And when I got into the membership, I had a one hour call with the founder.

I think it’s gotten bigger now where it’s there’s a team of people that do those calls, but that one one hour call for this 10s of 1000s of membership in this person had tons of stuff behind the behind the membership. He helped match my challenges and goals to the exact path through through his stuff in a specific order tailored to me, and what my business needed in a one hour call. So in one hour, he basically sealed the deal. And I ended up staying for not just one year, but two. But that one call that onboarding call was just so important. I just want to, to mention that like, it’s okay to talk to people.

Matt Inglot: Absolutely. That could have been the difference between you feeling this is the right fit for you. And you taking advantage of that love it or leave a guarantee.

Chris Badgett: Exactly. And he helped me navigate a huge library of content, like instead of just being like, Okay, I’m gonna go into consumption mode forever. I knew what to do and what order you also meant mentioned on tilted conversion rate, how to how can membership site people increase their conversion rate?

Matt Inglot: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there’s a lot of ways that they can increase their conversion rates. There’s a couple that come to mind. I mean, one is the sales page itself often has a lot of work that needs to be done.

Chris Badgett: Is there a model that you can think of, or like, I don’t know, maybe somebody that you know of that has like a good member sales page to model or just even if it’s not even a membership site, per se, it will probably should be a membership site, but like, what are people missing? Like, is it Are they too long? Or they’re too short? Are they just not spending enough time on it? What?

Matt Inglot: Yeah, well, I can take I take you through what you what you should and shouldn’t be doing? And I’ll see if I can think of one, it’s almost like the problem of having too many. Yeah, right. But like the general thing that I think membership sites sales pages fail to do over and over again. And it sounds simple, but it’s speak to the problem that your customers have. And make sure that it’s a recurring problem, which is also a business model issue. If your membership doesn’t solve a recurring problem, it’s a problem itself.

But really speak to a recurring problem that they have. And make sure that sort of what your sales page is focused on first and foremost, and then show them what’s the after effect of that. So here’s what things look like with a membership. Here’s everything that we solve for you. And then make sure you have clear plans that actually speak to who your different audiences are, which was going to be sort of the point that I was going to get to what a lot of membership sites on their sales page, they’ll have sometimes more than one tear. But those tears were kind of arbitrarily made up by the owner, right? They were never connected to anything in reality. Whereas if you actually survey your audience, and segment them properly, it’s the kind of stuff that we do for our clients.

You can actually restructure those tier so that they speak to speak to different audience segments, and are priced according to the value that those audience segments are, are going to get out of your membership. And that makes it super easy for someone that’s on your sales page to see, okay, well, here’s the problem you’re solving for me. You know, here’s what solving this looks like. And then hey, wait a minute, this plan actually makes sense for me. I’m going to go ahead, I’m going to sign up now.

And the easiest way to understand why this isn’t happening is to look at the contrast, where what I see on a surprising amount of membership sites instead is a headline that says something like join now for 2995 a month. Yeah, what am I joining? What is this? And like right away like the visitor shuts off, right? Doesn’t matter how many cool things like they’re trying to sell a membership, they’re not trying to solve the solution to the problem. And it seems particularly endemic to the membership community because they feel like they have to sell you on this idea of paying the monthly you don’t have to sell you your customer on that.

You have to solve sell them that they have a problem they have a really strong pain and that you can alleviate it and only then do you worry about the mechanics that it’s yeah it’s it’s a monthly thing or yearly thing that you pay for. And a lot of sales pages can be rescued and transformed just by going from that one model to model where you actually speaking to the customers pain points, and you’re presenting tears that actually speak to who they are.

Chris Badgett: Wow, that’s, that’s awesome. I really love that and I know a membership site people get really into the weeds of like, well, what’s inside, there’s like 50 courses, there’s group coaching calls, there’s these templates, which is important, but it’s only part of the story. It’s the you know that clear cut Customer with that clear pain. The one I was in, that I’ve mentioned earlier was about helping you scale. Your software company, which, you know, if you’re, if you’re in software, what happens to b2b SaaS founders, which is where I kind of slot in is, over time you that’s what you’re trying to do.

You’re trying to scale. And I didn’t even really know how many courses or anything were inside. It’s just the person his name’s Dan Martell, who’s by the way, he’s got a great YouTube channel, please check them out. If you’re listening, Dan’s awesome. I learned a ton from him. But his sales process had what was in the box had very little to do about it. It was more about the pain and identifying with this type of customer with these problem every time he was, it was like, he was like, psychic, you know? So yeah, good.

Matt Inglot: And imagine if it worked the other way, where he told you, oh, we have 500 videos in our vault? Very common wording like, Yeah, I mean, your credit card would get scared away. Because like, you don’t want to go through 500 videos necessarily. That sounds like a so much work.

Chris Badgett: But I want my problem solved. And I want to do with somebody who’s been there done that has a track record, which is the other thing I think on the membership, conversion rates is the social proof element is important. I mean, we all know, we need testimonials and case studies and stuff. But any tips for people on the in that social proof category? Like how to get them or what kinds they should get or whatever?

Matt Inglot: Yeah, absolutely. So I think of it as part of your general customer, customer knowledge engine, right where we talked about emailing them as soon as they join. For example, right, and getting the information about why they joined, we talked about surveying them when they’re leaving, there’s different touch points that you can have where you survey people, and you find out more about them.

And that should be part of their membership experience. That should be part of how you manage your list. You should always be trying to learn more about your audience. So we find the easiest way to get some of these, like really good testimonials, is to just slot them into this process. Where someone gives you a really good piece of feedback, like your membership did this for me, or I just had this huge win. If you’re monitoring all of that info coming in, anytime you see something like this, coming to you reach back out to that person and say, Okay, great.

I’m so thrilled that you were able to get this outcome, would you be willing to hop on a 15 minute call with me. And we could just make a short case study video demonstrating to others what you’re able to achieve. And it doesn’t have to be a video, I mean, videos, or I like videos, they’re sort of becoming more and more trendy. People don’t like like, the owners of sites don’t like doing videos because it’s more work. It feels weird, whatever. But customers love them because then they they can relate to them more than written testimonials, written testimonial, any like anyone can write that. And it’s not that we all approach those testimonials with complete suspicion. But there’s always that thought in the back of your head. Is this a real customer? You know, Joe, Joanne from Atlanta, says this.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, it’s fake. It’s harder to fake a video.

Matt Inglot: Yeah. But it’s just part of our process. Right.

Chris Badgett: And they are. One of the things that helped in a sales process I was in was they actually sent me testimonial videos by or case study videos by email, short ones. Based on the exact main challenges I said I had as part of the sales process, there was not even a heart closed, they just sent the videos about this person and that person that were a lot like me that had the same challenge. And now they don’t. It was it was I was kind of blown away. Just, you know, because I’m self aware. Like, wow, this is how sales should be. There’s nothing pushy here. It’s more about relevance match. Commitment offer. I mean, it was just the fundamentals were so good.

Matt Inglot: Yeah, I mean, that that’s great that you bring that up, because see, they’re putting all of these things into practice, right? The reason they knew which case studies to send to you was because they surveyed you, right? Right. It doesn’t have to be like a literal Survey Monkey survey either. But you’re asking people questions, and you’re gathering the data, and then you’re using it in order to create a better member experience.

Chris Badgett: I like that and in sales. I think about that. The first thing any salesperson should do is ask a question like before before like, actually trying to sell like, well, what’s your biggest challenge or what are you trying to accomplish? These are like very important open enters for a sales conversation, whether it’s a webinar or one on one or even inside of content, a bounce bounce rate, how do we keep people from bouncing? And I saw that on your site? Are you saying particularly around like, during the sales process? Or once they’re in the membership? How can we improve bounce rate? And can you also describe what it is? in case somebody doesn’t know?

Matt Inglot: Yeah, I mean, I know you’re referencing our website. So there, we were specifically referencing bounce rate, the metric, which is someone comes to your website, and then they leave right away, right. And they don’t actually pursue it further. And I feel like we’ve touched on on some of those concepts. Because there, you really want your whole site, just like your sales page, to be focused on a person’s pain point. And not all this other stuff. That’s not their pain point.

But there is another related concept, which is churn, which is probably what membership site owners probably especially want to know about. Because you don’t want your members canceling, right? There’s this whole promise of recurring revenue from a membership. It’s not very recurring, if you got people leaving after three months, right? Yeah. So we can definitely focus in a little bit on that. And we touched a little bit on this before, but probably the most important thing is fundamental, make sure that you’re actually solving a recurring problem.

So that’s sort of the first thing that’s the very strategic, not the very crunchy thing. But if you fundamentally built a membership, or someone can join with a painful problem, but then they solve that problem in three months, and then they they don’t have use for your content anymore, then you don’t really have a membership based business. Right? You’re probably better off selling a course. So now your challenge is to figure out how to fix that model.

Chris Badgett: So you say that sorry, I think that’s so important. And this is we run into this a lot. Yeah. So if somebody’s like, really, at the beginning of the journey, let’s say they’re an expert in some kind of fitness thing. And they want to do a course or a membership site, and they’re not really sure which way to go. Or perhaps like, but both like courses inside of membership. How do you? How do they know? Could you kind of set it but I just really want to, if people can waste a lot of time building a course that should be a membership or building a membership. That should be a course how do we kind of crystallize that fork in the road?

Matt Inglot: Yeah, absolutely. Especially because getting that wrong is extremely painful. Nothing seems to be working. Right? Right. So if you have a specific thing you’re planning to teach somebody how to do. And that’s it, that’s called a course, right? And no matter how much you want recurring revenue, people are not going to pay for forever, for ongoing access to learn the same thing over and over.

Chris Badgett: Here’s an example like, how to attract your soulmate. Like that’s gonna happen. But once it happens, they’re gonna get married. And that’s it, right? That’s like a, it’s not a recurring. It’s an important problem. But it’s not a recurring problem for most people, I guess.

Matt Inglot: Yeah, exactly. If you have a bunch of content and finding your soulmate, and that’s where things end, then yeah, you’re right. Absolutely. Again, that’s a course, or like, How To Play Chess. And you have your course on how to play chess. And that’s it. That’s a course. But a membership means that there’s some sort of challenge that they have possibly related to those things like soulmates and chess and whatever else that isn’t necessarily solved as a one and done. So for example, with chess, there could be a component of ongoing coaching, like you don’t become great at chess overnight. Right? So some way where you can study games, you can play puzzles, right?

So you could you could have like a daily chess puzzle newsletter, right? That would be a membership, because you always want the next chess puzzle, and the next one and the next one. Or maybe you take people through famous chess games, right? And you explain one every week or something like that, that’s ongoing content, because you’re helping me on the progression towards becoming a better and better chess player. That’s an ongoing pain point. Whereas learning the mechanics of how to play chess, that’s a course because there’s a start and there’s an end.

And once I know how to play chess, I don’t need your information and content anymore, right? And it’s going to be the same thing with the soulmate example, right? Like dating takes time. So I actually think there’s a lot of membership opportunity there. Right? You’re probably not going to find your soulmate next week, unless you get super lucky. But there’s a difference between teaching people you know how to find the right people connect with them and so on.

Versus like, providing like something ongoing, like virtual speed dating, I don’t know. I’m spitballing here. But there’s something that you can do to help them solve that problem. And that’s kind of the good news for core sites, or sorry for membership sites that are really courses. Sometimes you can you can fix this model. If you can broaden from going. I’m going to teach you acts to figure out what’s the broader pain point that someone’s trying to solve? And how, how can I help them solve that in an ongoing fashion?

Chris Badgett: So for example, like, example. I don’t, I’m not very good at chess, or I’m having a hard time talking to the type of people I want to meet, like, these are recurring problems that need time to develop.

Matt Inglot: Yeah, Precisely, precisely. And then you have a membership business and you have a group of customers that are hungry for solving this problem on an ongoing basis. And you can, it’s totally fair game, to charge them for ongoing access.

Chris Badgett: If we have a good recurring problem slash product match. How do we continue to fight churn?

Matt Inglot: Yeah, absolutely. So there’s a lot of things that you can do. But we like to focus on the fundamentals, which is make sure that we close the gap between what we’re offering and what the people are actually trying to solve. And that sounds kind of abstract. But I find a lot of membership sites struggle with that, right? Because it’s hard to make a good membership site that does that. So part of it is first of all, surveying your audience’s comes up over and over, see how they’re doing? And when you’re speaking with them start identifying Well, what’s missing, that’s preventing them from moving forward. Right.

And there’s some common things that tend to come up like time is a big one, right? And time is, a lot of the answers people give you are codes for something else. So time is a code for priority. For example, this isn’t really priority enough, right? So how can you make this higher priority. So for example, if it’s chess, going back to that example, I would guess that a chess site would have a lot of success. If they try to make learning chess, something that’s very bite size, tackling the time part, but also make it really fun, because people always make time for fun, right?

That seems to be an ongoing theme. Like actually Duolingo has put crazy amounts of time and money into exactly that they gamified their systems. Because they recognize that learning a language is incredibly hard, fundamentally, and it’s an incredibly big commitment you’re signing up for so you’re gonna have this crazy churn because someone goes on a whim and says, I want to learn Spanish. And then if you make them sit there and repeat, over and over how to say beer, in Spanish, it’s gonna get old really fast. So they found lots of ways to gamify it, make it fun, give you progress bars, and really help you build up this winning streak that you don’t want to break.

Right. So that’s an example of really finding a way to help your audience actually get to the finish line with their problem or actually make progress. And a lot of membership sites where they struggle is they just throw tons of content that people and then say, Okay, here’s the content, you’re on your own Sia, right. And like you were saying, like, one of the things that like Dan was doing was you were getting a customized lesson plan, right? Focus on exactly these things. So that’s an example of where they very smartly said, We got to close that gap. Right. And then they did that. So if you actually want to know how to solve churn, those are the things that you got to be doing.

There’s also more tactical things that you can do, like having some sort of regular communication with your members. Which again, sounds so easy, so simple, so obvious, but then it doesn’t get done, right. So there should be some sort of weekly or something like that email newsletter. Or some other means of communicating with your members. That sort of nudging them, and giving them value, right? It’s not just emailing them for the sake of emailing them, but just kind of reminding them that this thing exists.

Chris Badgett: My favorite one there is office hours. Because as a membership site owner, you don’t even have to prepare, you just need to show up as an expert, and help the people with what they have. It’s like the quickest way to add recurring value is office hours. I mean, there’s there’s other things you can do, but I always loved that trick.

Matt Inglot: Yeah, I love office hours. I mean, on a personal level. I love office hours I used to do tons of and it was just so rewarding both ways, right? Because like the students get a lot out of it. You get a lot out. You get to deliver a lot of value in a very compressed period of time. It’s just a win win situation. And the only challenge with Office Hours that I’ve discovered over and over, it’s usually becomes the same people showing up each and every time.

I have noticed that, always Yeah. And it’s just, I think it’s a good thing to offer, but you want it probably one very to times to make it more accessible. And just more broadly, you never want to hinge a student’s success on one medium if you can. So, office hours not are not going to work for everyone for all sorts of reasons. What are the other ways that we can pull them in. So even if they don’t do office hours, there’s other recurring stuff that they will get value out of,

Chris Badgett: I want to ask you about the community aspect. You know, it LifterLMS, we have a social learning thing, some people do Facebook groups, there’s forums, Slack,, there’s all kinds of like community tools that people use. But I see a lot of friction around community. Myself, I’ve joined a lot of memberships. Where the community was one of the best parts, but it’s really hard to pull off well. Any tips you have around to community or not to community or when to add that and how to kind of make it actually work? So there’s a lot of negative things that can happen if you build a community and nobody uses it, or people start spamming it or whatever. Like, how can we do membership communities better?

Matt Inglot: Yeah, I think the biggest thing I should say is that community should never be an afterthought. Meaning if you’re gonna do it, then go all in and build it into your membership such that, like, it’s expected that you participate. And that it’s it’s part of the program. Yeah, it’s part of a program, and there’s real value being delivered. If you have a membership that’s not based around community and you slap on a Facebook group. Or like you turn on a forum on your LMS, or something like that.

It’s just most of the time. It’s going to be a ghost town, unless you already have a crazy amount of members. And then you’re gonna get some discussion just because with enough members, anything, I’ll get used, right, but it’s not going to be very rewarding. So it should be baked deeply into basically, the curriculum, let’s call it even though it’s a membership site and not a course. And it should involve a lot of participation from you. Right? This isn’t something where you can just start a community and expect people to hire a community manager.

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah, it’s not gonna, it’s not going to pan out the way that you want it to. Because members can help each other. And you’re trying to encourage that, and you’re trying to encourage people to grow. But the only way they’re going to keep visiting this thing is if they start getting value out of it, right. And that’s where a lot of these communities failed, or members is that there’s no value happening.

And it’s a chicken and egg thing. Because for value to happen, people have to post, but people aren’t going to post if there’s not value happening. So you need to sort of take that initiative, get some posts going get like ideally, like a core group of involved people really posting. And then the biggest thing to me is also picking the right platform. And a lot of things, I don’t think platform is that important. But for communities, it is so important. And in my opinion, the best thing you can do is figure out where people where your particular audience, again, serving hangs out and use that platform. I don’t care what it is. But use it right.

It could be Facebook, it could be slack, it could Discord is getting a ton of popularity now. But it’s very hard to get people to use a new social network. And that’s always the struggle with forums. There’s some amazing forums out there, I participate in a few forums. But it is an uphill battle versus making a Facebook group where people are already on Facebook group or on Facebook, and they’re going to see your post, right? And they don’t have to check something else. And then it’s going to come to their phone, and they’re going to see it when they’re sort of bored and scrolling, you know, at two in the afternoon. It’s it just removes a massive obstacle to building community. If you go where the audience already is.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, sometimes I’m sad when I see somebody which I totally get take a philosophical stand against Facebook and their membership site, enter and like there’s like all these Facebook groups around their topic. And they’re like, Yeah, I don’t do Facebook. Oh, boy. Well, your people are on Facebook. So yeah, I get that. Oft

Matt Inglot: Yeah. And you’ll get that pushback from your members too, by the way. Yeah, it can be very disheartening, because you’ll get some that just won’t participate for that reason. And again, it doesn’t have to be Facebook, it could be anything. All I can say is you’re never going to make everyone happy. So don’t don’t let the really squeaky wheel Let cause you to guide your site down on to something that’s not actually going to work for you.

Because I’ve seen that I’ve made that mistake. You know, or people have told me all Facebook’s terrible, don’t use it, well, maybe maybe all those things are true. But the reality is 95% of our members actually don’t care if you use Facebook. And if you use this other like obscure thing, they’re just not going to participate. And you’re gonna, you’re gonna save the minority but lose the majority.

Chris Badgett: Well, so many insights today. This is Matt Inglot. He’s from tilted Go to tilted forward slash course. And you’ll get more counterintuitive, hard won, data driven membership insights, any final words for the people met?

Matt Inglot: Yeah, I mean, data is the big one. I think data is everything that we do. It’s all data driven. So survey your audience. If there’s nothing else that you’ve taken out of this episode, find out from them the value that they want created, how they wanted created, and so on. And just pay attention to that. Pay attention to your membership metrics, like customer lifetime value, churn, and so on. And then just build your memberships step by step with data as the foundation.

Chris Badgett: Any other places to connect. We’ve got tilted forward slash course, any social media or other ways to track you down? Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Matt Inglot: If you want to find me on social media, I try to be on LinkedIn a lot more. Now. I’ve historically not done a great job of that. But I’ve really changed that the last few months. And I think as a platform, it’s kind of really exciting, the changes that they’ve made to it. So I would love if people connected with me on LinkedIn. You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook as well. And just Matt Inglot there’s not too many of those out there.

Chris Badgett: Recurring revenue through memberships, one of our favorite most coveted topics on this podcast, and thanks for adding so much value value today Matt he’s at tilted forward slash course. Thanks for coming back on the show. We’ll have to do this again down the road.

Matt Inglot: Thanks so much Chris. Really appreciate you really appreciate LifterLMS and hope people got a lot out of it.

Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMS cast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. And I’ve got a gift for you over at lifter For slash gift go to forward slash gift. Keep learning. Keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.

Share This Episode

Know Your Value

Discover how much you can charge (no opt in required).

Stop Wasting Time Researching Tech

WordPress LMS Buyer's Guide Download Cover Images

Get FREE access to the official WordPress LMS Buyer’s Guide

Get the Best LMS Software Now

Get FREE instant access to the most powerful customizable LMS software

Create and Launch an Online Course with WordPress

Discover how to launch your online course website in 20 minutes.

WordPress LMS Growth Engine

5 secrets to create, launch, and scale your high value online training program website.

Try LifterLMS Before You Buy

Discover the world’s most powerful flexible learning management system (LMS) for WordPress.