WooCommerce Membership Strategies for Best Results

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Last updated - May 10, 2018

Offering a membership plan on your eCommerce store is considered an effective strategy for business success by experts. With the technological advances in eCommerce sector, setting up a membership plan is not so difficult as well. WooCommerce has quite a few awesome extensions to help you set up an effective membership scenario on your site. Here is an article if you want to know more about some popular WooCommerce membership plugins. You might be pretty convinced about the effectiveness of WooCommerce membership plans, but how do you get your customers signup? This article focuses on some of the important aspects you need to consider while marketing a membership plan on your WooCommerce store.

Why is WooCommerce membership a great idea?

Membership plans thrive on a simple business logic. The effort required to acquire a new customer is considerably higher than getting existing customers to buy more from your store. And nothing helps more with repeated purchases and return customers than setting up a membership plan with exclusive deals. This is because memberships ensure customer loyalty, given you constantly delight them with exclusive deals and offers. And as more of your customers opt-in for membership plans, you can reduce the marketing costs considerably.

In addition to ensuring steady business growth, membership plans also assure you with predictable income. However, you need to devise an approach to your store that is going to thrill your customers with exclusivity and personalization. Sometimes just offering members-only discount won’t be enough. You may have to figure out more interesting things like exclusive access to your latest products, or complimentary consultation with an expert, etc. Whatever it is, the exclusive offer under your membership scheme should bring in some novelty to your customer experience. If you are successful in ensuring that, you may not have to worry much about getting more customers to sign up for the plan.

Other WordPress solutions

There are quite a large number of tools to help you set up a good eCommerce membership plan. Not just WooCommerce, even other players like Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) have great solutions for membership plans. Restrict Content Pro is a powerful solution that you can use on your WordPress store with EDD.

How to inspire customers to opt-in for your WooCommerce membership plan?

In the current eCommerce landscape, setting up a membership plan on a new or existing site is not such a tough task. However, getting a unique appeal for your membership plans is what makes all the difference. If you make your customers feel that they are really gaining some value from your membership plan, then you are on the right track. You can convince them to opt in more easily. Here are a few tips that would help you optimize your membership strategy.

Device a unique strategy

When you are still establishing a membership scenario, it is all about the novelty aspect to get customers, rather members, in. Once they are in, it is about sustaining the excitement you created at the start. One important aspect here again is to think in terms of the potential member – what do they get from joining your program? At the start, you need to focus on the advantages for customers rather than your business goals. That way, you will be able to devise something capable of attracting customers in hordes.

What you offer through the membership plan should be relevant to the customer. And that should be something they won’t be able to find anywhere else. Sometimes, a multi-tiered membership strategy would be the best option for you. You can have a more extensive reach to a broader audience this way. A separate page, listing out the advantages of each membership plan, would really help customers to take a decision. Fundamentally, you membership plans should inspire and excite potential members to join. For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime are two popular membership plans that have a great fan following. Then there are quite innovative ones like the Dollar Shave Club.

An innovative membership plan, Dollar Shave Club supplies shaving kit to members every month with a range of plans to choose from.

Costco, the membership-only warehouse club, is another good example that popularized the concept quite early.

Make it irresistible

You may have to really present the benefits of joining an exclusive club or membership plan obvious to the potential members. As stated above, listing out the benefits of a plan would do a lot to help customers make a decision. When you present the benefits of multiple plans side by side, your customers get a chance to compare each and take a decision. There will be many membership plans that are really popular with no competitors and no need of advertising. For example, Costco is a hugely successful membership-based business that really doesn’t believe in external advertising. They thrive mainly through the referral process where existing members recommend it to their friends and family.

But things are not easy for small and medium businesses that thrive on the WooCommerce landscape. Unless you are in a true niche market, you may need to actively devise strategies to make your membership irresistible. Basically, a combination of well-crafted deals and good copywriting is essential. A dull, unappealing description with no proper details would only repel your audience.

Maintain clarity and transparency

First of all, you need to make a set of benefits that offer something valuable to the customers. You need to maintain clarity and transparency about terms and conditions. If you somehow manage to get a few users to signup without revealing the terms clearly, they may anyway not renew the membership later. Also, you may need to include relevant reviews and testimonials to ensure that existing members are happy with your plans. It provides an assurance in the minds of potential members who are on the verge of taking a decision. A positive word might just inspire them to hit that ‘Join’ button.

You may also need to offer options to users to contact you. Mostly, when users are about to pay some money on your site, they may need some clarifications. There should be someone readily available to answer their queries, or you might lose some potential customer. Setting up a live chat option on your site is a great option to manage this kind of scenarios.

The greatly popular California Wine Club has a separate page for testimonials, and they have a live chat window always enabled.

Decide on a pricing structure

Most of the sites that offer memberships often structure them in multiple tiers. Each will have something that is suitable for particular strata of the audience. Continuing with the above example, if you have a wine club membership in your store, there should be suitable plans catering to small and large families. And maybe you can create a few more tiers based on the quality of the grapes, aging, etc. You need to create an ample number of options so that your customers can put in some thoughts and choose. However, providing too many options is also not really advisable. When presented with too many options, your users might feel confused. They might just postpone the decision when too much information is presented at once. The trick would be to keep things simple and clear.

Gain the advantage of automatic recurring billing

A perfect strategy to gain more from membership plans is to set automatic recurring billing on your site. This would make sure that you are able to get a predictable revenue every billing cycle. This takes a load off your head and gives you room to innovate. Most of the membership plans rely heavily on the automatic payment option. Once the user clicks join, the automatic billing process will be running until they actively choose to cancel the membership. Again, Netflix is an apt example of a business that thrives on this strategy.

If you are running a WooCommerce store, you can effectively combine two popular solutions – subscription and membership. Most of the subscription plugins available in the WooCommerce community supports automatic billing. However, you may have to use a payment gateway that supports this type of payment. Read our article WooCommerce subscription solutions, if you want to find a suitable option to set up automatic billing on your store.

Reward members with something valuable to them

Often when customers have signed up exclusively with your store, you have the freedom to engage them through email and social media regularly. And you can use this opportunity to market some of the new products or plans. Similarly, you will send them an occasional discount coupon or deal. However, all these are things that have some obvious benefit to you. There is no problem to market products to your members, but it is also very important to reward them with something valuable occasionally. After all, if you are providing them with your products weekly or monthly, you can very well offer something extra once in a while.

For example, if you are sending toiletries to your members on a weekly basis, how about adding a new shampoo once in a while? Such thoughtful rewards can benefit you in different ways. First of all, if you are able to delight your customers, they are going to be loyal to your store. Then by offering a new product, you are able to market it for free. You can even ask members for feedback to be sure about the potential of this new product.

Customize and restrict content

A great strategy that you can apply with memberships is to restrict content according to membership. You can create unique content that is only accessible to members. This gives you build a sense of exclusivity to your members. Runtastic is an Austrian company that sells running accessories. They have quite a lot of content that helps you train for different kinds of runs from 5K to a marathon. They also have a dedicated session for premium members that includes exclusive content to help with your training.

Runtastic is a great example of providing unique content for its premium members.

With extensions like WooCommerce Memberships, however, you can restrict content in quite unique ways. For example, if you want to make certain areas of your store only accessible to members. Similarly, you can set up custom content on the same page, so that members and non-members will view different versions. This can be used to upsell your membership plans as well. Create a teaser section which is capable to generate enough interest in the reader, and restrict the entire content only for members. Scientific journals traditionally use this strategy to great effect. A good example would be New Scientist. However, keep in mind that such strategies are easier for established resources, might not be easy when you start out.

New Scientist offers ample information to generate interest in an article and then presents their subscription plans to access further.
A list of tools to look for…

Here is a list of tools that you can try out to set up a successful WooCommerce membership plan.

A few legal points to note

Membership sites may have to keep in mind a certain set of legal obligations in the country they are operating from. Here is a quick list:

Make sure your members conform to policies

You may have to make sure your members are accessing your site well within the limits of your policies. Mostly, this is to avoid spamming other members, and accessing the site through bots for marketing purposes.

Manage user-generated content

User-generated content should not lead to an issue with copyright laws or create harassment to external parties.

Be aware of Communication Decency Act

In a way, membership-based sites can save themselves from taking responsibility for content generated by users. In the United States, section 230 of Communication Decency Act assures membership sites in this regard.


Offering memberships on your site is a great way to ensure predictable revenue and a loyal customer base for eCommerce stores. Platforms like WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads offer immense possibilities to set up a successful membership-based store. This article tried to provide you with some useful strategies that you can apply if you are keen on a membership-based store. Let us know how you find it.