In an earlier article I talked about some reasons why WordPress is such a great membership site platform. In retrospect I was probably putting the cart before the horse as I didn’t talk about why a membership site might be better than some more traditional methods of marketing such as a mailing list.
Marketing, in my opinion, is partly about messing with people’s heads. If you have ever studied marketing you will know about the major role that emotion plays in buying decisions. So, whilst it is messing with people’s heads, it can be done for the right reasons. I remember struggling with the whole concept of playing on emotions for some years. For a while I believed that any sales pitch that wasn’t 100% fact was deceptive and wrong. Then I read a case study by Paul Myers which used fear as a motivator.
This case study was related to backing up data and the sales copy told a story from an I.T. guys perspective. He was talking to his customer about how many businesses fail within 2 or 3 years of having a serious incident where company data was lost. It also mentioned the cost of restoring data, the cost of time lost and the potential loss of customers. It was a pretty scary story but it was using fear for the right reasons.
Other emotions and emotion related tactics that are used in marketing and advertising include things like scarcity, exclusivity and the perception that we are giving the customer something over and above our ‘standard’ product.
So how does this all tie in with membership sites and what does it have to do with mailing lists?
With a mailing list you have a limited space and time to share information and promote your products or services. You send out an email and hope that most of the recipients open the email and that at least some of them read it all through. Think about your own habits with emails. Do you read them from start to finish or do you generally delete them without much more than a cursory glance? Marketing via email can still be effective but it is getting tougher all the time as you are competing with all the spam that is floating about and even the spam filters that sometimes block your legitimate emails.
With a membership site you have many more ways of getting people’s attention. Whether it’s with some compelling content or same advertisements in the sidebar, you have many more options. That’s not to say a mailing list is not worthwhile – but you can use a mailing list (such as Mailchimp) to send a simple, short message to let your fans know that you’ve posted a new article on your blog. If you are creative with your article titles you will get plenty of list members clicking that link – and you will also get stats from your autoresponder to tell you how many did actually click!