Dumb Mistakes That Screw Members…and How To Avoid Them
May 17 2019 - 7 MINS READ
troubleshooting subscription and membership platforms

Running a membership site means you have a lot of different plates spinning. Regardless of the groundwork you have already put in, there will still be times where you feel like you’re losing control.

Maybe you’re losing members or failing to reach your membership targets; hitting security problems; dealing with payment issues; or facing complaints about your site’s loading speed.

As your site matures and grows, you’re bound to face a few problems.

Thankfully, there are lots of ways to improve your site’s functionality – as well as identifying weak spots in your processes.

If you want a quick reference guide to troubleshooting the top 5 membership site operating issues, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s break this down into two themes: the techie stuff, and the operational stuff.

The “techie stuff”

This section is all about the things that you can improve within your site’s functionality to make it work more smoothly and securely. It might be about the plugins you are (or aren’t) using, dealing with failed payments, or leveraging a content delivery network.

Payment difficulties

The most common payment issue is failed payments. It happens to everyone, so don’t worry! There are lots of reasons why a member payment may fail, and they are rarely your fault. Generally, it’s a banking or funds issue.

Whilst you can’t eliminate the risk of failed payments, you can make it as easy as possible to track and fix when it does happen.

What to do: Set up an automated failed payments process. You should be able to automate the email part of this using your MemberPress plugin. As a baseline, your failed payments process should cover:

  • An email (carefully worded to show sensitivity) to alert both you and the customer
  • Suspension of access
  • Automatic payment re-attempts
  • Cancellation after a certain number of re-attempts

Slow loading speeds

slow loading

As you add content such as videos and bulky downloads, your site speed may start to suffer. You can keep track of this in a neat way by measuring download speeds right now – there are lots of free tools, such as Pingdom and GTMetrix.

What to do: Check in with your web host. If there are any options for upgrading to improve load speeds, then go for that. If you’re not happy with the service you’re getting, you can always switch hosting providers – even after you have launched. Compare the best-value providers here.

You can also sign-up with a Content Delivery Network (CDN) so that the large files are stored in various data centres around the world, meaning your members access the server that is closest to them. Smart idea.

Security issues

If your site is built on WordPress, then you have lots of reasons to feel secure. However, if you’re not keeping your software updated, then you inevitably reveal vulnerabilities.

Brute force attacks based on password hacking, malware hacking attacks and cross-site scripting are all common issues that can happen if you’re not holding up your end of the bargain.

What to do: Easy. Religiously update to the latest version of WordPress. The open source nature of WordPress means patches are issued all the time, so you’re rarely the first to face a particular security issue. While you’re at it, make sure your plugins and themes are all updated.

Check your password security, too. Make a brute force attack virtually impossible by using two-factor authentication.

Oh, and set up a backup schedule for your site!

Want to know more? Refresh yourself with our five tips on building a secure membership site.

The operational “stuff”

You’re bound to find that, as your site grows, the processes around it need to adapt. You might have unanticipated consequences to the way you are creating content, or you may have underestimated the planning involved in promotions.

Losing members

Subscriber retention is high on your strategy. You need to keep your existing members happy – so not only so do they stay on board, they bring along their friends.

What to do: There are thousands of pages about member retention for you to read. You can read a good summary in our “Membership Site Retention” blog. In a nutshell:

  • Focus on attracting your target audience – those who will really benefit, and therefore stay with you. Having lots of members who aren’t getting a useful service is bad for business.
  • Review your pricing strategy. Are you offering good value? Are you being clear and transparent about what you offer?
  • Keep your subscribers motivated. Get in touch regularly; organise online events; deliver new materials.
  • Track participation. If you know what interests individual members, then you can deliver something personal. There you have it: competitive advantage.

Missing targets

Whatever targets you had in place at launch, you may be finding that you’re falling short somewhere. If not, then you should be sharing your experiences in your own blog!

Whatever your issue – be it not enough traffic or not enough new members – you are probably in need of a strategy around your content and promotions.

What to do: It’s a big one, this. There are three key areas to address:

  • SEO. If traffic to your site is causing concern, then you should focus on Search Engine Optimisation. You might have thought that this doesn’t apply to membership sites: wrong. At a minimum: your blog needs to be optimised for search engines; your site structure needs to be clear; and you need to be focusing on keywords. There is a lot more detail in our SEO Practices blog.
  • Promotions. A solid plan for marketing your site is essential. You should be running three promotions per quarter: two minor and one major. Promotions can include offers, content, events, themes and buzz builders. Promotions are the source of ongoing membership. Just be wary about what you are offering for free, and what value paid members receive.
  • Content strategy. Content marketing is all about how to distribute content to market your site. It helps to project a certain authority to your expertise and helps to provide visibility to the great content on your site. Every site owner needs a good content strategy. Learn how to build one here.

Now that you know all that…

If you’ve found yourself facing difficulties running your site, you’re by no means alone. There are lots of reasons why your site may struggle to perform at the scale you’ve predicted. If you’re ready to put the work in, there is always a way through functionality and process problems.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot – and your resolution doesn’t have to wait until the issue arises! Why not get ahead of the game and fix anything you’ve seen in this list that you haven’t yet put in place? Forewarned is forearmed!

If you need some support, or want to talk through the options for resolving issues before they arise, then get in touch with us.