Using Data to design the Levels of your WordPress Membership Site

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data-wordpress-membership-siteOne of the most commonly missed aspects of designing a WordPress membership site is the determination of levels.

Levels, really?

I know it feels like a boring topic, but the determination and design of the levels of your WordPress membership site can really help your revenue. But because it's boring, people rarely look at it.

Let's take some examples.

You want to start a membership site, so what do you do? You create “courses” where each course is it's own level and people who only sign up for one get access to that material.

Or you want to start a site where only some of the material (“premium”) is protected. You use a membership site for the “premium” level and tag content to show or hide content based on level.

Or you want to create sequential delivery courses where one class is a prerequisite for another. So you create 101, 201, and 301 levels and expose more info to 301 than 201, and more 201 than 101.

All of these approaches is the same. You get better access as you step into a higher level (and presumably pay more).

An Unusual Membership Site

Years ago we built a startup around wireless phones and plans for the corporate world. This was just as PCS / Digital was taking over from the old analog world. Because of that, when the FCC sold spectrum, and because they didn't want monopolies, they never gave a single carrier nationwide coverage.

So back in the day, companies had a real hard time figuring out how to determine their “policy” on cell plans and phones because you couldn't just say, “Use Sprint.” Because you'd get to parts of the country where Sprint didn't sell service.

Trust me, I'm going somewhere with this story.

As we were building our solution, we – like a lot of people – got stuck on pricing. What do you charge for a procurement platform? Where's the value come from? From efficiencies like the time it saves the procurement staff? From efficiencies like the time it saves the expense report processors?

In the end, all of those were complicated to articulate in a 15 minute pitch.

So we decided to drive price based on the data. Every market that a company was in required us to pull data (for all the carriers, plans, phones and dependencies in that market). So if you were in one market, our software might cost you $15,000. But if you were in 5 markets, our product was $75,000.

It worked – we sold the product often and eventually sold the company – giving our angel investors a very happy return.

Wait? A Membership Site?

You might be wondering how that procurement platform was a membership site? Well it was. Let me explain it's features:

  • Everyone that had a password was able to log in.
  • Based on a user's login, they were linked to a role and company.
  • The role and company defined the level of access they had – in terms of what they could see.
  • From there they could purchase or “request” approved products and services.

Yes, it was designed to deliver value – but only to members. And every customer was logging into the single solution (even though branding changed per client).

But my point isn't to tell you about ICE Wireless or how we build a membership site that we sold for $10 million after less than 2 years. My point was to share with you the concept of data and the value of data in different packages.

Using Data for your WordPress Membership Site

Data is valuable. But not all data is as valuable to everyone.

Think of it this way – let's say you did research on social media strategies that worked across the globe. Would people in the US want to know what worked in Russia? Not nearly as much as they'd like the US data. And if you could break it down into regions, someone may only need/want the NorthEast instead of all of the US.

How does this relate to your membership levels? One way to create a different kind of leveling is to create levels that are not based on getting more access or less access to articles or site features, but instead to focus on restricting access to data.

So the report you create is still the same – but if you only want the NorthEast, you can get it for X. If you want all of the US, you need to pay 3X, and if you want the globe, you need to pay 5X.

This approach, using data to drive the levels you design, can be a quick and easy way to segment your audience, while also generating premiums for “complete access.”

Like I said, membership level design can be boring stuff, but if you do it right, and you price it right, you could see it really impact your revenues.

About Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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