Before buying membership site software – ask these questions to every vendor
August 18, 2010 by admin
Building online membership site business is an exciting step on the road to build our own source of residual income.
We all have talents, we all love and know to do certain things better than anyone else. We all know how to solve certain problems that others would love to learn from us. Taking time to put our skills, experience, passion and knowledge on the web and having a chance to monetize it brings triple excitement:
- You do something more about what you love.
- You share what you love to do with other people and helping them to solve their problems.
- You can make money doing what you love.
One way to monetize your skills and experience is to build a site and share your skills and experience in form of writings, posts, helpful articles, downloadable ebooks, text, video and audio tutorials or in any other kind of "digital" format. Idea is to share your talents with other people, helping them to solve their problems and making money along the way by charging for information access.
Today on internet people are happily paying for useful practical information.
Once you decide to take a step and start building your online membership business the question is how to proceed?
The best, most easiest and most flexible online building platform is wordpress. WordPress is free and can be installed in a matter of minutes. WordPress does not includes any paid membership capabilities though so you need to add a plugin to make it do what you need.
There are many wordpress membership plugins on the market, many new are created daily and the big question is which one to choose?
Whether buying a car or buying a software - the easy way to make a right choice is to ask the right questions to vendors of plugins directly.
To make your choice easier here I will outline a list of important questions to ask to vendors of wordpress membership plugins.
The magic of the right questions! At the end you will see that the list of vendors who are capable of answering positively on all these questions is very limited. The goodness of that is the choice of membership software that you will need to make will be much easier.
Here goes the list of questions about membership site softwares:
- How SEO optimized is your software? Which SEO benefits your membership site software will offer to my website?
SEO means Search Engine Optimization - it's an ability for your membership site to be ranked high on major search engines.
Membership sites are rather unique in an aspect that much of their content is protected, which means less content is available for search engines as well. So the more bits and peices of SEO juice you can squeeze the better for your business.
Here are SEO questions to ask to your membership site software vendor:
- Do you offer free teasers for articles and pages? Free teasers could be indexed by search engines even though the rest of content is not available.
- Do you support Google First Click Free standard? Google first click free standard was specifically developed by Google to allow premium membership site owners to gain extra organic ranking juice.
- What happens when new visitor (as well as search engine) tries to access premium ebook or premium movie for which he has no access?
Does user and Google are going to see "access denied" or "404" errors or you offer more intelligent way to handle these cases?
Most softwares does not handle these cases in any intelligent way and Google is going to see lots of "404" or "access denied" errors on your site.
This will negatively affect your site's organic ranking as google will consider your site "not friendly", "buggy" site with lots of missing pages.
MemberWing-X is the only membership site software on the market at this point that allows you to automatically substitute premium digital downloadable materials with special promotional version of these materials when search engine or free visitor access them. This feature named PromoFusion. PromoFusion serves double purpose:
- Google will never see errors but instead will notice that your site contain plenty of rich media content
- New visitors will be able to see promotional "teaser" pieces and get more interested to buy full access to your materials.
- Do you offer free support forum where users are openly discussing your software? How long do people need to wait for your replies?
Software support forum is great way to search for solutions and answer on questions.
You want software vendor to have free support forum.
- Do you offer free fully featured trial of your software?
My most successful experiences with any product always started with the free fully featured trials. Ability to test-drive software is as important as test driving car before buying it. Not that many commercial plugin vendors offer free trials. Most offer "money back guarantee" that does not often works as smooth as you want. You want free trial with no questions asked.
- Does source code of your plugin is encrypted or opened? If down the road you want to make a tweaks to source code to make it fit your theme or your business model better - the source code needs to be opened. If it is encrypted - you're on mercy of the vendor. He may or may not want to accomodate your custom need and even if they would agree to do so - the fees they'll likely to charge will be high and non negotiable. If source code is not encrypted you may do small modification yourself or hire any good coder at a market price to make modification for you.
You want source code to be opened.
- Does your software allow me to launch membership site within minutes or do i need to learn your proprietary technology for a months before making next step?
Many vendors offer somewhat awkward administration and configuration interfaces that would take a long time to navigate and configure before their system would be of any use at all. While complexity of software is a fact of life - some vendors make their solutions auto-configurable to large extent. For example MemberWing detects all settings automatically and allows to launch membership site with zero configuration efforts at all. Naturally it takes 2-3 minutes with MemberWing. While it has plethora of custom settings and long manual as well - you may learn them all "after the fact" once you already launched your membership site that is fully ready to accept payments. It's fun to get couple paying membership already while you still learning the craft.
You want quickly launchable and close to zero-configuration membership software.
- Do you offer hosted version of your software?
Most vendors offer only downloadable version of their softwares. Which means you have to do all "under the hood" installations and setups yourself. If you are busy professional that do not have time or desire to get your hands dirty with proprietary technical things and just want to set up your business on internet - hosting version may be a great solution for you.
Hosted version comes with a recurring monthly fee and usually includes pre-configured website hosting + pre-installed membership site software in one package. It is a guarantee that everything works and operating as it needs to be and leaves your hands free to concentrate on what you do best - your business and your talents.
You want an ability to have a hosted version of their software.
- Do they offer Gradual Content Delivery Functionality (dripping content)?
Gradual content delivery allows you to pre-populate your site with a number of lessons or tutorials or articles and make them available gradually to your new members. This attractive concept is very successfully used by a number of autopilot sites where most of it's content is pre-loaded upfront. But every new member sees new content appearing "gradually" on your site and that prevents person to be overwhelmed with the flood of new materials. Gradual Content Delivery functionality helps to keep members to stay longer with your site, protects against content leeching (new member signup, copy everything and cancels) and overall keeps more money in your pocket.
You want an ability to have Gradual Content Delivery functionality.
- Do they offer ability to securely sell digital downloadables products?
Internet is ideal place - "cloud" to sell access to all kind of information over and over again. That's how millions of dollars of residual income is made!
Selling information could mean:
- Selling access to premium content by a single fee and by subscription (which mopst membership software supposed to do anyways).
- Selling digital downloadable materials such as eBooks, movies, MP3's, premium images, software downloads, ZIP archives, and other files.
- Giving access to premium digital materials for members who purchase certain product or group of products.
Important part of selling information is security features. Security for your digital business comes in:
- Ability to prevent loss of revenues by having one person to purchase the product and sharing download link with 100's of his friends.
- Ability to prevent cases where one member purchases your premium product and uploads it to torrent site and file sharing sites.
For example many online hosted digital download services send download link to the purchaser. Such link is unsecure and can be shared with anyone. To prevent this issue most softwares and services came up with idea of "expiring" links or limiting link to certain number of downloads. This in turn cause lots of grief to legitimate purchasers who want to download product after arbitrary expiration date or download it to their desktop, laptop and office computer as well.
MemberWing-X came up with a nice solution to all these issue by requiring customer to login with his own username and password to access his purchases at any time and as many times as he wants.
MemberWing also the only solution on the market that could invisibly watermark each digital downloadable product with unique identity of a user before letting him have it. This feature will help webmaster to track down illegal file sharers, digital thiefs and terminate their membership to prevent revenue losses.
You want not just an ability to sell digital downloads, but ability to securely sell digital downloads with revenue protection features.
While there are many offerings on the membership software market today - it is not easy to make the right choice. Mostly due to difficulty to see through the hype and promotional push that many vendors and their affiliate offer.
You are the best person who may answer which features are most important for your membership web business. The secret to success before making any purchase is to ask the right questions.
If you consider above questions as important ones for your business I may offer you the last tip of this article:
The latest release of wordpress membership plugin MemberWing-X gives “yes” answer on all of these questions.