Mike Morrison Talks All About Membership Websites – Part 2
In the podcast:
01:55 – Should You Invest In Creating Paid Groups in Facebook
07:53 – How He Manage To Populate His Pop Up Group
09:36 – Thoughts On Balance of Free Versus Paid Content
12:02 – His Most Successful Traffic Generating Strategy
14:53 – Basis On What Content To Promote In Facebook Ads
20:00 – What Would He Do Differently If He’s Just Starting Out On Membership
22:17 – Staying Focused On Your Niche
27:05 – Learn More About Mike Morrison
Mike Morrison and I discuss building, running and attacting members into your membership website. This episode is Part 2 of 2. You can find the Part 1 here.
Ilana: Welcome back to talking with marketing. I’m Ilana Wechsler, your host and today’s episode is actually part two of the episode with Mike Morrison. So if you haven’t listened to part one, that’s probably the best place to start. Because we literally continue where we left off. And if you did listen to part one. Well, good news here is part two, Mike continues to give a whole bunch of value and great information about running membership sites and populating them and getting members and keeping members and all that interesting and fun stuff. So be sure to check out this part two episode. And if you also go to our website, you’ll find a bunch of free additional content as well. You can download the show notes from this episode, as well as a free video course and a whole bunch of other stuff. So be sure to check out http://greenarrowdigital.com. Alrighty, on to part two of this episode.
Should You Invest In Creating Paid Groups in Facebook
Ilana: So you touched on before the fact that you had a Facebook group and I this is a little bit controversial because it is, you know, so much noise in the market about you should start a Facebook group of students that a Facebook group and Is it free that paid I’m interested in your thoughts on I mean, obviously it was successful for you. And did you close that Facebook group? Or is it still running?
Mike: Yeah, We’ve still got a Facebook group, I’ve got a major love hate relationship with Facebook groups. First and foremost, it’s Facebook. And you know, unless you’ve been under a rock for the last probably the last decade. But certainly the last year like Facebook isn’t necessarily the person who should be getting too much into bed with you know, that it’s a kind of necessary evil, it’s a means to an end. But now obviously, public sentiment outside of people in the online space is turning against them even more. But that said, it is still where most people are. And so if your audience on Facebook, then when it comes to free groups as kind of a either just a place to assemble your audience then Facebook groups are were attacked, you know, nobody’s gonna join a Google Plus group for this stuff is Google Plus even still a thing?
Ilana: I don’t even know if it’s still a thing, is it?
Mike: I don’t know, I keep I keep just assuming it doesn’t. And then like getting an email like once a year said somebody like this post on your google plus profile. So you know, no one’s no one’s rushing to join a Google Plus group. Facebook groups are where it’s at, if you want to, if you want to have the place for your audience to congregate. And for you to develop that relationship, get insight into their challenges, their struggles, their problems, Facebook groups, where it’s at, for free groups, head groups. On the other hand, I don’t think you should have on Facebook. In most cases, when money’s changing hands when you’re creating something that is actually a revenue generating directly revenue generating business, I said, not just something that’s part of the marketing mix, but something that you are making money from, then I’m not a huge fan of building on someone else’s turf, especially with Facebook. Because you are giving up control you are subject to any decisions Facebook wants to make, and they will not consult you on those decisions. If Facebook decide that what your group represents no longer matches up with their terms or their business objectives, they will shut your group down overnight with no recourse. No warning, and I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen groups of 20, 30, 40,000 people disappear overnight with no recourse you have no say in it. If it’s we’ve decided they no longer want to offer groups, you’ve got no say in that when Facebook eventually and they will do this because they’re trialing it already with Facebook, start showing ads for your competitors to the members of your Facebook group. You cannot do a thing about it. And it’s going to happen.
So there’s a lot that you sacrifice if you put your free group, oh sorry I mean your paid group on Facebook, you can live with that stuff. If it’s a free group. It’s not gonna it’s obviously it’s not ideal. But if your free group disappeared overnight, yeah, it sucks. You’re gonna find another kind of marketing channel. But it’s a different kettle of fish from if you’ve got people who are paying you money and a massive part of what their opinion money for just gets wiped out. Because, you know, you can’t even take a backup of the people who are in your group, you can’t export that data and then put them into a forum or anything like that. So I’m not a big fan of Facebook for paid groups but they have massive are they can be massively beneficial for free groups. But with everything like when you send about you know, there’s so much out there saying are you should you should do this, you have to do this, you need to do this. If you don’t want to set up a free Facebook group. Don’t set it up like generally don’t invested with channel that you don’t like you’re you’re not comfortable with. Because you won’t like the fact that you don’t want to have a Facebook group means that you probably won’t show up, which means that your group will never get off the ground. Or if it does, you’ll not be able to reap the rewards of it, it’s kind of got to be something you need to you want to do. And the same goes for a paid membership. But don’t do it. Because I think you should do it. Do it because you want to do it. Otherwise, the very fact that you had to be talked into it probably means it’s not going to turn out well for you.
Ilana: Yeah, I’d probably fall into that category of somebody who has been told to start a Facebook group and and resisted that advice. Personally, I can’t stand Facebook groups, I find it impossible to find any content or threads that I was watching. Or like, the search function is like our cake. It’s just they drive me It drives me crazy. So yeah, like I’ve grappled with this many times about kind of ‘Do I?’, ‘Don’t I?’. But I just really dislike Facebook.
Mike: Even in those cases, you know, like we did with the one we run off five day challenge this year. And we’re going to be doing some more of these, we set up a pop up Facebook group where it’s literally only been used for 10 days, and then you close it down. So we had this separate to our free group just saw that we weren’t annoying the 8000 people in our free group, you didn’t sign up to the challenge. We set this up as a separate thing, literally just to make use of the technology and for the ease and convenience and because we could do Facebook Lives and stuff like that. And then we closed it down. So this still ways of just using the tech without having to go all in on the platform.
How He Manage To Populate His Pop Up Group
Ilana: Yeah, I think that’s actually a happy compromise. Can I ask how you then like with I would imagine like a Facebook group grows organically, you know, like you see in the Facebook when you sort news feed that suggested groups and sort of the organic growth of Facebook happens. But with a pop up group. I mean, how did you know? Did you email? Or check across in your database to get people in there? Or did you do any other methods to populate that pop up group?
Mike: It was a case of to get it the challenge, you had to sign up via email. So we emailed our existing list, and we use one of those, you know, just click this link, and then they automatically get tagged and added to the list. If they have click the link and they’re an existing subscriber, rather than making them fill a form. And again, and then yeah, we just promoted it as we would any other lead magnet just a bit heavier. So we run some ads to the to the signup page, we pinned it to our free group, we talked about on the podcast, we used I think we have one of those is a convert bar. We had a little convert bar ribbon on our website in the build up to it and all that sort of stuff. And then so we got people subscribe to the list for it. And then we said, okay, it’s going to happen in this Facebook group. Here’s the link.
Ilana: Oh, okay. So if I understand you correctly, did all the bunch of ads and convert by ribbon on your website, linking to actual landing page on your website? Getting them to register for it? And then via email, you send them the link to the pop up group?
Ilana: Okay. Rather than sending them directly to the pop up group?
Mike: Yeah, exactly. Because we wanted there, you know, we want them on our list where we could, you know, nurture that relationship.
Thoughts On Balance of Free Versus Paid Content
Ilana: Yes! (laughs). Something I will also wanted to ask you because, you know, like, I also have a membership. I don’t know if you know that, but I’ve got free content, and I’ve got paid content and this balance between what do you give away? And what is sort of like, your best content that’s contained in your membership? What are your thoughts on this whole balance of free versus the paid content?
Mike: Yeah, it can certainly be a little bit of a challenge, there’s a good rule of thumb to us, if you give away the ‘What’, give away the ‘Why’ and sell the ‘How’. So if you’re doing podcast, writing blogs, doing videos, whatever, like tell people what they should be doing and why they should do it. But then for the actual ‘How To’, so the implementation, the walkthrough of any tech. The deep dives into a strategy, that stuff you sell. So you put that stuff into your into your membership. So that’s for anyone who just can’t figure out where to put that line that’s an easy place to start you get a sense of you’ll give away as time goes on but that’s a good starting point. It’s also it’s a case of a depth as well depth and specificity so you know again yet the stuff on your in your free content should be kind of like broad in terms of…I think of that the this trips me up because it’s the widen depot…wide and shallow.
Ilana: Yes. Narrow and deep.
Mike: Yeah. So it’s that kind of thing you know if you’re going to do a ’10 ways to increase your sales’ and you’re going to do that as a blog you’re not going to give a deep dive into all 10 of those things. So you had to go wide and shallow in terms of wide focus but shallow in terms of detail. Narrow in terms of really specific you know how to use live chat your website to double your conversions like that’s real specific in terms of topic matter and you would deep dive into that. Where’s your membership should be wide and deep so you cover a wide range of stuff but you’re going deep into all of those so again that’s just another barometer that would have sounded so much more some if I didn’t tripped in the beginning.
His Most Successful Traffic Generating Strategy
Ilana: We’ve each head out turn that tripping over words. It’s even now! (Laughs). I guess you might, I might know the answer to this based on kind of what we’ve touched on already but what would you say has been your most successful traffic generating strategy for your own membership or and it is that the same for the other memberships that you’ve seen your customers in your membership website?
Mike: Yeah, honestly, a content marketing like it’s so boring and unsexy to say that but you know so much of our traffic comes from Google comes from search.
Ilana: Right, that’s organic search.
Mike: It’s organic search and that is because you know we’ve been putting out content consistently for three or four years real specific like staying really just laser focused on the niche as well like I something people don’t do enough there they start a swear they start to broaden out a little bit too much just consistent content that remains really specific we’ve just seen that traffic going up and up and up and mostly comes from search . The podcast the Facebook group have also been two of the big pieces of the puzzle we mostly use the podcast to drive people to the Facebook group because we kind of know that actually again most of our stuff comes from search and so like it we don’t want to just use the podcast to send people to the website we want to we use that as an another route to the membership which is through the Facebook group and stuff like that but yet it’s just organic search and we we’ve used Facebook ads as well to then amplify and accelerate the stuff that’s happened organically and that’s you know that’s certainly an approach that has worked better for us than using Facebook ads just for cold traffic.
Ilana: Like lead magnets?
Mike: Yeah. Lead magnets like it worked, it has worked but at a cost per lead that’s higher than than I wanted in all honesty and you know we actually find in terms of Facebook ads that are best results come from sales remarketing so check out abandons sales visits that don’t end up in in signups like our Facebook ads for those work like gangbusters, but for cold traffic generation and lead gen, they’re nowhere near as effective. And again, we’ve seen that we’ve seen that with clients who worked on the past and stuff, I think it’s because of the membership model, I think it was, you know, there’s a little bit more of an on ramp a little bit more time and, and relationship and credibility establishment needed before someone will make that sale. So yeah, that’s certainly been our experience.
Basis On What Content To Promote In Facebook Ads
Ilana: Do you find that you sort of have a bit of a look in your Google Analytics and find your most popular content, just promote that content? Or do you when you are into promoting your content through Facebook ads? Do you promote all of it?
Mike: It’s tended to be the it’s kind of looking at the Google stuff and picking out the best performing content, but then having a little bit of a human sanity check and looking at that say, ‘Okay, well, that’s had the best conversions. But actually, that article kind of sucks’. So what do we really is that putting our best foot forward and also, you know, sometimes the most popular content are all the content maybe isn’t as finely tuned in terms of its messaging and the segmentation side of things, as we would want it to be, by today’s standards, in terms of reflective of what someone’s going to get inside the membership. So, you know, we’ve one of our most popular things is a it’s an article we wrote in 2015 comparing course, like LMS plugins. Now, that’s a tiny, tiny part of what our membership covers, like when it’s less for online courses. It’s more forward, you know, recurring memberships. And so maybe, even though that still gets a lot of traffic, that’s maybe not the article we pick out to promote, because it’s shining a light on or it may be positioning and presenting what someone will get inside the membership inaccurately, does that make sense?
Ilana: Yeah, yeah. No, it does. Yeah, yeah. I would imagine in your, in your membership of the people who have memberships you would see some weird and wonderful dishes. Can you give me an idea of some of the weirdest one you see? And not mention any names.
Mike: We’ve got a one for like, exotic fish.
Ilana: Exotic Fish?!
Mike: For exotic fish enthusiasts? There is, but I think this is not a weird one. But certainly, like, things that made me kind of, ‘Oh! that’s quite cool’. We’ve got someone who has I think have an Ultimate Frisbee Membership. But there’s also like a classic one. Music instruction is a huge, huge industry for, for memberships and teachers. So selling resources to other teachers, like there’s a massive market for that we’ve got quite a few people in our membership. But then we got other really specific ones, like memberships around passing a real specific type of exam in a real specific type of industry, like, Yeah, all sorts but the exotic exotic fish and the ultimate Frisbee. You know, I’m gonna I’ve been asked this question a few times. And I all there’s one that I think is pretty stand out. And I never remember what it is on a call, and I need to write it down. I need to get on a post it note. And I’ll remember the second we get off this call as well. (laughs)
Ilana: Yeah, totally. (laughs). Well, I mean, I always find like, you know, I’ve been running my agency for over five years now. And I get some weird business owners coming to me looking for help, you know, with their ads. And so it’s a bit of a running joke in my family. Like, kind of, all right, this is the one we’ve never heard of what this person trying to sell, or, you know what, this weird business it in, I’d like never ceases to amaze me. The different kinds of businesses that are out there are fascinating.
Mike: It is in my early freelance days, I actually got contracted to to build a website for a star.
Mike: Male Porn Star which certainly was interesting,because a big part of my work was also adding their content onto the website. So I saw some stuff (laughs).
Ilana: You cant unsee that stuff! (laughs).
Mike: You really can’t. And this was pretty extreme homosexual pornography. Which, you know, hey, they all seem very happy. But..
Ilana: Where else do you need to go?
Mike: Exactly, and it definitely made for some interesting conversations. I was staying with a family member and also working against deadline and they did not buy it when I told them. The reason, there’s so much, you know, male homo eroticism on my computer screen right now is because this guy is a client and you know, he needs this website launched next week, because there is a convention. I mean I couldn’t, I couldn’t call work either. You know, I just like co working spaces. You can’t take that a Starbucks. No, you really can’t. Yeah, but he was lovely guy, great client as well. So, you know, you do what, you gotta do.
What Would He Do Differently If He’s Just Starting Out On Membership
Ilana: Yeah totally. If you are starting out now, is there anything that you would do differently?
Mike: It kind of depends on At what point I’ll be starting. And it was literally all the way back in the day, I would charge more like, from going all the way back to freelancing, I would charge more because want too much.
Ilana: The fee for your membership?
Mike: For the membership?
Ilana: That’s what I mean. Like, if you’re starting a membership now.
Mike: Oh, that’s a really good question. I would the challenge that we used for our initial lead gen, I would shorten up because by the 15 day point, we were just kind of, we start getting real anxious. And we were like, We just want to know what people are going to pull the trigger and join the membership. So I would kind of shorten that on road. But otherwise, I would double down on the niche. Harder and earlier, because in the very early days, you know, we were quite niche. But most of the content we put out will be the little thing we tended to add on, everything was for memberships and online courses. So we still technically they’re sort of the same, but they’re not the two very different business models. And we were kind of in the early days straddling both, and it took six or seven months before we ditch the online course part. And we just focus 100% on our memberships because the online course of just didn’t fit but now as a result, as I was saying, before, we’ve got some of our most viewed content is on stuff that’s exclusively just about online courses. And that isn’t aligned with really you know, the the main side of what we do it’s nowhere near a major problem it’s just one of those little annoyances. So yeah, I would go deeper on the niche earlier and I would segment from day one we didn’t really do that we were kind of we had a single lead magnet to begin with that everyone we’ve gotten signed up with but actually our leads doubled pretty much overnight when we just hammered in on that segmentation on our website with separate lead magnets which segment like practically overnight, our email signups doubled.
Staying Focused On Your Niche
Ilana: Wow, that’s amazing. And I think you’re right on on the whole, you know, advice on really honing in on your niche. I think that’s where I’m, you know, I tell people like, I’ve actually been really lucky because I actually started back in the day is just an AdWords agency. Like, it wasn’t a full service, I didn’t do websites, I didn’t do SEO. I didn’t do whatever, social media, I just did AdWords and purely because I just that’s all I wanted to do. Yeah, I wasn’t a genius. I just I wasn’t strategic. It’s just that’s all I wanted to do. And I thought stuff it. But in fact, that actually was the best decision I made. And in the end, I ended up adding Facebook ads, and it was just PPC work. But I have had, you know, it’s you know, it has been tempting to kind of broaden that to incorporate landing pages and web design to incorporate SEO because customers asked for that. But yeah, but maintaining focus and staying true to that has actually been very, very successful.
Mike: Definitely. I mean at the end of the day do you want a brain surgeon? Or do you want a GP? Like, if you people want that brain surgeon, they want specificity and that specificity in your niche, it makes life easier for you, because you can then just apply the angle to any topic. So copywriting or copywriting for AdWords.
Ilana: That’s right. And my membership level is just PPC stuff. So it’s like a whole AdWords course, it’s Facebook ads that have analytics which is just the PPC side. So maintain that focus.
Mike: And it is, it’s so easy to get tempted it away because there’s, there’s this thing in on online entrepreneurship, about it just being bad to leave money on the table. But, you know, actually, it kind of depends on the table and who else is sitting there and what else has been served up alongside that money and it’s okay to not want to sit at a particular table just because there’s money there. So, yeah, the whole idea of our, you know, well, my customers are also asking for these things all of course they are because it’s more convenient for them to not have to find another supplier if they can talk you into doing something else for them. And also, if they trust you, then of course, they if you can do something for them, course they’re going to want to choose you but just because they wanted doesn’t mean you should deliver, if you try to be all things to all people you went to be nothing to nobody so yeah, maintaining that that razor focus on the niche even in our case, when I say you know, I would I would focus even more like this has gone from what is already a pretty tight niche memberships and online courses to just membership, so it’s not going from not niche to niched it is going from niche to like high punished so busy yeah because even with memberships you know it’s actually is a very specific type of membership you know it’s not a membership Association where you meet up in a dusty bingo hall it’s not subscription recurring revenue like subscription boxes or SAS it is e-learning online based community memberships.
Ilana: But I the example of the exotic fish is the prime example of a niche within a niche within a niche. It’s not just in the pet niche, it’s not just in the fish niche, it’s in the exotic fish niche.
Mike: Absolutely and you know if you’re in a crowded market so as an example podcasting we’ve got maybe I don’t know I’d possibly a dozen podcasting memberships inside all our community and you know while that itself is a niche it is crowded so yeah and go further some of the memberships that we’ve got in there there they are for podcast is but they offer podcasters who are out that growth stage or you know they’re specifically just for podcasts as who are in that beginning stage so launching a podcast growing an existing podcast getting sponsorships or a podcast there’s always another angle you don’t want to go saw razor focused you don’t want to be you know the membership for podcast about video games that have two hosts like humans maybe stepping over yeah but you know if you are in a nation you kind of your face that thing of our will add niche down but there’s still a lot of competitors. So maybe I should just go broader. Let me just go that one little step further and you know, focus on just one segment of our audience.
Learn More About Mike Morrison
Ilana: Definitely lots to think about. Mike you have definitely given us a huge amount of content today I wanted to thank you for coming on today’s show you’ve been a an amazing source of knowledge and your experience is an insights are invaluable. So before we stop recording, where can people find out a little bit more information about you?
Mike: Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me on the show. I always enjoy any opportunity to whip up a soapbox and ramble on about this wonderful world of membership side. I very much appreciate you have me on the show.
Ilana: My pleasure!
Mike: Anyone who just want to find out about us best place is https://www.themembershipguys.com/ that’s where we blog, podcast, and have a whole bunch of free stuff. If you want the real good stuff as well as access to myself and Kelly that’s over at https://www.membersiteacademy.com/. That’s I membership about memberships where we’ve got all the training resources, tools and community support you need to build, manage and grow successful a membership website.
Ilana: Yes, you do have an amazing community there so definitely go check it out. Mike, you’ve been very generous with your time so I will let you go but thank you again for coming on.
Mike: My pleasure. Thanks for having me!
Ilana: Awesome. Talk to you soon!