Kyle has a wealth of experience consulting with clients running membership sites, and developing custom WordPress plugins from running his own agency. Now, he’s working with the Sand Hills Development’s Easy Digital Downloads team.
Which Route: E-commerce or Membership?
During his consulting, Kyle ran into this dilemma often. It’s not always black and white and always boils down to finding the most effective fit for your specific company.
He recommends considering the following:
E-commerce is designed to distribute products.
- A product is something a customer obtains and can take from you: physical or digital.
- E-commerce does not necessarily rely on repeat business.
- E-commerce you’re researching your data and looking for volume.
Membership is designed for your members to interact with on their own time.
- It is not necessarily connected to the payment process.
- Memberships are often recurring.
- You’re tracking data and looking for engagement: usage, the time they spend on their site, and what your return rates are.
How to monetize:
Kyle stresses the importance of studying usage, lifetime value, and presale questions you’re receiving so that you can be nimble and adjust down the road.
“Everyone’s needs are unique and for whatever it is that they’re trying to learn or build, they may want to just cherry-pick from your catalog. And that sounds nice, but it does have some serious drawbacks which we’re discovering.”
Selling one-off plugins was restricting their customer’s flexibility, and their ability to make smart decisions.
By changing to a membership site, Kyle saw the following benefits:
- Improve their customer value.
- Improve the customer experience with their products, providing only one license key rather than different ones for each download which was burdensome.
- Improve customer service, allowing their team to advise their customers to change seamlessly between different plugins, rather than their customers buying the wrong plugin and realizing it in hindsight.
“It removes these barriers that we encounter in the customer encounters and allows us to be a little bit more flexible, allows us to suit their needs more accurately and not try to retrofit a model to the add-ons they happen to have or be able to afford, so everyone is winning in this situation.”
Simplify your Site with Tiers:
Understand what your customers are trying to do with your platform and then meet their needs.
Kyle gives the example of how they look at the type of customer who is correlated with certain plugins and how they’re using them. This influences their decision as a business to make the add-on a pro add-on or beginner. By pinpointing which extensions generate the most support, they are able to elevate that plugin to a higher price tier. This is a smart decision for both the business and the customer.
“Maybe you have a series of e-learning courses on your site and some of them are quite advanced. And you know that if its really cheap and there’s not much of a barrier, there’s a lot of people who will take it who are not truly prepared for it and that’s not really a win for you or for them either.”
According to their data, Kyle says that education sites are the fastest growing segment of their plugin sales. The number of people using their products to build learning sites has quadrupled!
He says that the most successful people are those who capitalize on knowing exactly where customers are getting value from their product or content. By understanding what the basic order is, from there you can decide what the extra fries and drink are.
Simplify your customers’ decision-making process and focus on answering their questions in their language to create a better experience.
Whether you’re running a membership site or an e-commerce business it is very important to understand the ever-changing needs of your customers and adapt and accommodate to that. Be flexible, agile and ready to change.