There is a reason American Express made the phrase “Membership has its privileges” famous. The brand had the right idea to focus on the benefits of membership to attract and retain customers. We are tribal by nature. It is in our DNA to want to belong to a community — to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. It is why clubs of all kinds have been around for thousands of years. It is why we choose to live in neighbourhoods, communities and cities.
Being part of a community has never been easier or more powerful than it is today thanks to the Internet, and more specifically, thanks to the millions of websites on the so-called world wide web. When you choose a domain name, hosting plan, and set up your own online presence, whether for business or personal use, you are joining one of the largest clubs ever – the club of website owners. And as a website owner, you are in a very unique and powerful position to attract visitors and customers and create your own online community around your interests, your passions, your products, or services.
There is a growing trend for eCommerce businesses to focus on memberships and subscriptions. According to a February 2018 report by McKinsey & Company, “The subscription e-commerce market has grown by more than 100 percent a year over the past five years. The largest such retailers generated more than $2.6 billion in sales in 2016, up from a mere $57 million in 2011.”
And that trend continues. It makes perfect sense for eCommerce businesses and online sites of all types to treat their visitors and customers as members. Every eCommerce platform and most content driven websites encourage visitors to establish an account and login when they visit. If people are going to give you their name and email address, they are effectively joining your club. Your visitors and customers are members of your club, so treat them as such. Offer them the “privileges” that Amex espouses. Make them feel special for joining your community. There are a number of ways this can be done, and here are a few simple ones:
- Share exclusive content that only members receive.
- If you sell something, offer members special deals, and early access to new products or services. Occasionally include some added-value item in their orders for free as a member benefit.
- Make sure your support team makes every interaction with a member memorable and with the member’s needs first.
- Encourage members to provide feedback and testimonials and reward them for doing so – and LISTEN to them and let them know their feedback is appreciated.
- Shine a light on your members in your Social Media marketing (as appropriate).
In general, just imagine how you would want to be treated as a member of a club and treat your visitors and customers the same way. Just as you enjoy feeling wanted and appreciated, so will your visitors and customers when they feel like they are a member of your “club.”
And, if you are looking for a domain name that truly expresses the community of your website or business, a domain ending in .CLUB may be a great choice. There are countless creative businesses and individuals already doing so. Take for example, Firstleaf.club, a company that has built a large community around wine by offering a customized wine club experience.
Unlike most wine clubs where every member is sent the same selection of wines, Firstleaf chooses your wines based on your personalized profile, and let’s you rate the wines you receive. Then they customize future orders just for you, based on your likes and dislikes. As a result, Firstleaf has consistently been rated among the top wine clubs and has been featured in articles in Forbes, Huffington Post, Newsweek, Entertainment Tonight, NBC News, and many more. Clearly the personalized treatment they give their members is leading to great success.
So, as you think about growing your online community and retaining and reinvigorating your customers, think about them as members of your club. You don’t have to be as big as American Express to show your customers and fans that indeed, membership has its privileges.