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What does it take to run a great community subscription?

community subscription service

Community subscriptions are a great way of getting a return on the time and money you’ve invested to build your community. Here’s how to build a great one:

Although we live in a time when almost everyone is connected, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that the digital world is, all too often, a noisy and lonely place. On one hand, brands are tapping into mediums like social media to increase their reach, nurture customer loyalty, and enable social selling. On the other hand, they often find themselves struggling to make a meaningful impact in a highly competitive market.

Building a community subscription site or app helps establish a sense of belonging and exclusivity. For members, it can provide access to valuable resources to help them get more out of your products and services, as well as leave feedback. For the brand behind it, a community can lighten the workload by deflecting customer support tickets, provide insights for research and development, generating revenue and improving customer retention.

Here are ten things that make a great community subscription site:

#1. Create a brilliant first impression

The average internet user has 90 online accounts, and that figure is likely to rise. That’s a lot of websites to bookmark and login details to remember. It’s only getting harder to encourage people to sign up to membership sites, which means first impressions are everything.

Why it works

The first encounter people will have with your community is a welcome message. This is your chance to make an impact, so you need to make every word and image count. A clear value proposition to answer the question ‘what’s in it for me?’ should be the first thing people see.

#2. Offer something for free

Even if you don’t charge a membership fee or have any additional subscription tiers, you’ve still got to encourage people to sign up in the first place. One way to do that is to offer a freebie, such as a digital download, exclusive discount, or free trial membership.

Why it works

Everyone likes receiving something for free, which is why retailers and other companies have had loyalty programmes since the dawn of modern commerce. Providing something for free that has real value is a sure-fire way to get people to join your community subscription site.

#3. Provide access to exclusive content

There are few things that kill an online community faster than turning it into a paid subscription app that doesn’t bring anything new to the table. People aren’t likely to be interested in paying for something that they’re already getting for free or perhaps even paying for already.

Why it works

A community app with a subscription is all about delivering value through great content that isn’t available elsewhere. The aim should be to over-deliver with exclusive content that keeps your members coming back.

#4. Launch online courses

The internet has transformed education more than almost any other sector. We now have a raft of online collaboration platforms to enable social learning experiences and deliver online courses offering a whole new level of interactivity. Your community is a great place to offer online courses.

Why it works

Some of the best community subscription models are those which provide learning experiences that help members fulfil personal or professional goals, whether that’s improving their health and wellness or getting better at their job. That’s something people usually expect to pay for.

#5. Group your members

While a niche brand might have a very specific target audience, a lot of companies cater to a wide range of demographics. If your target personas change significantly, you’ll need to group your community members to better cater to people’s individual needs.

Why it works

Segmenting your members helps keep the conversations on topic and enables members to accomplish their goals faster. By setting up different sections of your community for different interests, you’ll be able to deliver more relevant content and nurture stronger relationships.

#6. Enable peer-to-peer moderation

Moderating an online community often ends up being a full-time job for a large team of people. Managing large memberships through manual means alone becomes a practical impossibility at scale, which is why many subscription communities encourage peer-to-peer moderation.

Why it works

Peer-to-peer moderation lets people flag offensive or otherwise rule-breaking content for manual review. This makes it much easier to maintain the health of your community.

#7. Lead the discussion

There’s a lot more to keeping online communities safe than laying down and enforcing the rules. While things like acceptable use policies help lay the foundations for a healthy community, there is no substitute for setting an example by leading the discussion.

Why it works

You can’t expect to create a community subscription site and then leave it to look after itself. It requires the consistently regular involvement of brand representatives who take part in the conversations and aren’t afraid to ask questions and start discussions of their own.

#8. Learn from others

A community subscription site or app is, first and foremost, a learning platform. Even if it’s not a space for offering actual online courses, many brand communities serve research and development or support needs. But no matter which purpose they serve, it’s all about two-way conversation.

Why it works

A brand community is an excellent medium for product ideation and feedback. Your members can become more than just customers – they can develop a real and meaningful relationship with your brand by getting involved in its operations. It’s about learning from each other.

#9. Launch group events

Although much of the emphasis is on digital mediums when it comes to brand building, there’s still no substitute for real, face-to-face events. Many successful brands, both in B2C and B2B sectors, use their communities to promote and organise real-world events as well.

Why it works

Access to exclusive events, such as trade fairs and sponsored activities, can become one of the core value propositions of joining your community. People will be far more likely to join and stick around if there’s the promise of tangible rewards like invitations to real-world events.

#10. Onboard new members

Onboarding members is one of the most important responsibilities of a community manager. The process typically starts with a welcome email, sent as soon as a new member signs up, followed by an introductory video and/or a dedicated community section for introductions.

Why it works

The quicker and easier it is for people to sign up and get involved with your community, the better. The more activity, the more valuable your community will become, and getting people to participate meaningfully depends a lot on those initial experiences.

Bonus: Use a community app for your community subscription service

By choosing an app platform (such as Disciple’s) that delivers iOS or Android apps gives you access to the app stores. Both Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store have easy payment services for subscriptions.

Why it works

One of the greatest barriers to paid subscription services is a psychological one – actually paying. Making this easy and automatic with your own smartphone app helps to remove this barrier, uses a familiar payment system and so gets more members into your subscription service.

Disciple social spaces help brands enjoy all the benefits of community with an independent, valuable, and trusted platform in a safe space that they own and control.

Seb Abecasis in
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Seb Abecasis in Community monetization
Seb Abecasis in
Community monetization

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