Growing a podcast membership base takes time. Here's your game plan:

Photo by Thomas Le on Unsplash

This is chapter four of Glow’s Membership Launch Playbook, a four-part guide that covers brainstorming, building, launching, and growing a podcast membership.

You’ve created your membership and launched it to the world. Now it’s time to keep going, keep learning, and keep converting your fans into your paying members.

The keys to regularly driving new member sign-ups are consistency and experimentation.

Keep going: Consistency is key

While your most passionate, most obsessed and most dedicated fans might sign up right away, lots of listeners who would enjoy the benefits of your membership need several reminders to take the leap.

Think about the last subscription you signed up for. Maybe it was a gym membership, streaming service, monthly shipment of hair care products, or something else. How many times did you interact with the brand before signing up? Chances are that number is somewhere in the tens or even hundreds. 

It takes time for most of your listeners to take the leap and sign up for your membership. And while they think it over, you can move things along by putting your membership front-and-center.

Here are three simple steps to consistently marketing your membership:

Step 1: Include a call-to-action in every episode

Mentioning your membership on every new episode is the most impactful way consistently driving new memberships. 

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few examples of podcasters pitching their memberships.

Step 2: Link to your Glow page in the show notes of every episode

Making sure that the link to sign up is always readily available will ensure that your to-be-members, when they’re ready, will be able to sign up. 

Spirit, Purpose and Energy advertises their membership, the Inner Circle, in the show notes.

Step 3: Link to your Glow page from your website

In the spirit of making it as easy as possible to sign up for your membership, you should link to your membership page right there on your website.

The NewsWorthy links to their membership from the main navigation of their website.

The NewsWorthy also links to their membership prominently from their episode pages.

Keep learning: Try new ways to market your membership

In addition to your ongoing podcast promotion, here are two ways to bring your potential members closer to your gated content, boosting membership signups.

Release a compilation of bonus episodes in your regular podcast feed

Food Heals released an episode on the regular podcast feed entitled “Go Behind-the-Scenes of Your Favorite Wellness Brands in the Food Heals VIP Club”, where host Allison Melody described why she started her membership program and includes a series of excerpts from the bonus interviews members would receive. Here’s the Food Heals VIP Club page and their compilation episode

Do you typically announce new podcast episodes across Facebook, Twitter, your newsletter, and, well, everywhere? You should do the same with this episode, making it easier for listeners to go ahead and sign up for the membership you’re previewing. If you typically publish a post on your website for new episodes, make sure to include a link to your membership page.

Release a preview of your bonus show to your regular feed (Acquired)

Acquired released an episode on the regular podcast feed entitled “LP Show Preview: Chetan Puttagunta, General Partner at Benchmark”, which contained a nine-minute preview of an exclusive episode for members only.

They also announced this episode on Twitter, linking to their website, which contains a clear call-to-action for their membership.

Keep learning: Experiment with your offering

In chapter one you identified your listener goal(s) and brainstormed one or more offerings that further them. And in chapter three, you launched. By the way, have you stopped to celebrate yet? Launching your membership is no small feat, and you should be proud :)

But, as with any start-up business, totally nailing the the offering on your first try is almost impossible. 

(Did you know Starbucks used to sell coffee beans, not coffee? Good thing they experimented with their offering ☕)

Just like Howard Shultz and did at Starbucks way back in 1983, you should be experimenting with new offerings to pinpoint the content that best furthers your listener goals.

We call this finding content-market fit, and here’s how to do it:

Finding Content-Market Fit in Six Steps

Step 1: Go back to your membership strategy and reference your offering brainstorm. Find one that didn’t make the cut that you think would be a good candidate to test out.

Step 2: Plan a short-run version of that offering. Keep in mind that testing something new doesn’t mean blowing up your membership benefits every two months. You should be trying new things incrementally, so that you can gauge the response without disrupting your regular membership benefits. For example, you might have considered offering a monthly group call or webinar to dive deep into a topic covered on your podcast. This is your chance to trial this idea by perhaps offering just one group coaching call in the coming month.

Step 3: Crack open your marketing playbook and announce your new offering. You can even present it as a test or one-off bonus content so to not disrupt your membership while setting the expectation that you might only do it once.

Sample script:

As you know here at {podcast name} we have a membership program called {program name} where you can get: {membership benefits}. But, just for this week, we’re trying something completely new. It might be the biggest thing since sliced bread, it might be, well, just alright. We’ll let you decide. This week, in addition to {regular benefits} you’ll get {new offering}. We want to make {membership name} as amazing as possible, so we can’t wait to hear what you think. Signing up is super easy. Just follow the link in the episode notes to {glow url}.

Step 4: Wait two weeks

Step 5: See number of new members. Compare to the past four or five two-week periods. Is there a significant increase in members that you can reasonably attribute to your experiment?

Step 6: Did you drive more members in that two-week span than most others? Consider adding that offering to your membership on an ongoing basis. Also, consider bundling this new offering on top of the current one.

When should I swap out my benefits completely? If you’re in the early stage of your membership and haven’t seen much traction, it might make sense to totally swap one offering for another. If your membership is up and running and you have lots of members that value your content, totally swapping offerings runs the risk of losing members and trust with your biggest fans.

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