Membership Level Names and Tier Offerings

Carefully choosing your membership level names and the offerings you structure within each tier can help customers choose what’s right for them while allowing you to clearly and boldy state the value you’re delivering within.

The hardest work is behind you.

You’ve carefully planned, created, and structured your premium content. You’ve built a website to deliver it and you’ve configured your shopping cart software and payment gateways of choice so that you can charge for it. You’ve even started to release some free, pre-launch content to begin building an audience who will hopefully open their wallets later on.

But two major tasks remain on your to-do list…

  • Create price tiers and choose membership level names
  • Decided what goes into each membership tier

While this may seem like a relatively straightforward next step and one that you should be able to cross off the list with ease, it’s an important decision and worth taking some time to think through.

Once your membership site is launched, you’ll be making a push to market it in any number of ways. This might include using an affiliate program or reaching out to other authorities in your niche to help you spread the word.

And while it’s simple to change your membership levels and tier offerings on your site whenever you choose, it’s not so easy to change mention of your initial membership packages elsewhere on the web. This could lead to a lost sale later on when a prospective customer is reading a review about your awesome Go-Getter membership tier on someone else’s blog only to find that there’s no such thing on your site.

Why not take the time now to plan for the long haul?

In this post, we’ll take a look at some key considerations to keep in mind when choosing membership level names for your launch and your membership tier offerings.

You membership level names have a single purpose, albeit a very important one…

To clearly communicate the value that a customer will receive from signing up for a plan compared to the other plans you have available.

It’s tempting to get cute and clever with naming your membership tiers. We know…we’ve tried it. And we’d all love it if every prospective customer clearly understood the analogy we’re trying to employ by using the three power-ups from our favorite childhood video game.

But this is business. Let’s treat it as such.

While there is room to have a little fun here, we recommend basing your membership tier names and price offerings on one of the following four main types.

You’ll know which of these will fit best for your particular offering, but each of these membership naming and pricing strategies is designed to clearly convey value and benefit to your prospective subscriber.

Flat-rate, all-inclusive memberships and names

When we launched our very first membership site back in 2011, we wanted to keep it as simple as possible. Our site was intended to provide up-to-date news and strategy recommendations to search engine optimization (SEO) professionals and we wanted all of our members to have access to everything we offered at one price.

This not only kept things simple for our prospective customers, but it drastically reduced the administrative work associated with the site. There was no extra bookkeeping for income from different levels. There was no proration of fees for members who wanted to move up or down a level in the middle of a billing cycle. Our monthly affiliate payouts were a breeze to reconcile. Revenue projections were simply based on new subscriber growth and churn of existing members.

If you don’t have a complex mix of different content verticals and delivery types, keeping it simple with a “one price for everyone” membership model might be a good fit. As an orchid enthusiast, I’ll offer Ryan Levesque’s Orchids Made Easy site as an example…

Membership Level Names and Tier Offerings Orchids

There are two obvious downsides to this approach. First, you may leave money on the table by not charging more for content which should command a premium. And second, you could price out certain prospective customers by making your single membership level one which they can’t afford.

Benefit-based membership levels and names

This is one of the most common ways to build out membership tiers. Each membership level offers the subscriber a different level of value in terms of the benefits they receive, with each increase in price allowing the customer to access additional premium benefits.

Common benefit-based membership level names might include nomenclature like Silver - Gold - Platinum. That’s a very well-worn example and we’d recommend trying to get a bit more creative, but it does the job. We’re all familiar with what silver, gold, and platinum are and we inherently understand that gold is more expensive, yet more valuable, than silver and the same for platinum over gold.

Bonanza, a membership-based shopping site where sellers can list their products, gets marginally more creative with their Gold, Platinum, and Titan membership tiers…

Membership Level Names and Tier Offerings Bonanza

As far as what content goes into incrementally increasing the value of each membership, the sky is really the limit. However, it comes down to what types of content you have created or will be adding over time as well as what other non-content perks you’ll deliver.

For some sites, premium levels might include access to forums or a Facebook group, pre-made content templates, live coaching calls, discounts on recommended products/services, or even access to live, in-person events.

While this approach allows you to be paid appropriately for your efforts while allowing customers to select precisely what benefits they need, its downside is that, contrary to the flat-rate model, it isn’t simple to administrate. It involves constantly managing who has access to what and for how long.

Persona-based membership levels and names

Persona-based membership levels allow your prospective customer to self-select the tier which is best for them. The persona level could be related to age, education, level of expertise, or any scenario where different groups of member-types would access your content.

A common example of the persona-based membership is the use of special pricing for students. Slooh, a site which allows astronomy enthusiasts to sign up for time slots to control major observatory telescopes throughout the world, illustrates a simplified example by offering Student and Apprentice memberships.

Membership Level Names and Tier Offerings Slooh

Some professional licensing organizations commonly break this up into students, certification candidates, and currently certified professionals.

TrainingPeaks, a site which allows endurance athletes and coaches to plan training around seasonal race goals, breaks their memberships into the appropriately titled For Athletes and For Coaches tiers.

Membership Level Names and Tier Offerings Training Peaks

Bulk-access membership levels and names

While not as common as the other three, bulk-access membership levels often make sense when your prospective customer varies in terms of how many users need access to your content. We see this often with our course creation clients who sell their training content to large organizations.

One example of this is a customer who sells fire safety training. He has one price for companies who need to deliver his training to 25 or less employees, a different price for 26 to 50 employees, and so on.

It makes sense that the more customers you have logging in, the more questions there are to be answered, the more administrative details which need to be tended to, and the more bandwidth you’re paying for as the site owner. So why not charge for more users?

This strategy might employee membership level names such as Individual, Couple, Family, Group, Business, Organization, or School.

The downside to this membership level approach is that not all membership software or online course creation software packages allow you to configure access based on a certain number of user logins. You’ll need to carefully select which software you choose if you go this route.

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