The Secret Behind Raving Fans and High Retention Rates
Jill and Josh Stanton are the founders of Screw The Nine to Five and run the membership site “Screw U”, where they teach unsatisfied webpreneurs how to stop feeling overwhelmed, focus on the right tasks and build their business strategically. Here, Jill reveals how to get people to sign up for a membership site and how to keep them there long-term.
From a Course to a Membership Community
Screw U started as a one off digital product with a 11 module course for $2000. “But honestly, we hated starting over at square one every single month. We always had to ask ourselves: How are we going to beat last month's numbers? What can we do to pick up sales?” Jill remembers. To her and her husband, it felt overwhelming and not enjoyable. “Josh started talking about switching it to a monthly membership community at a lower price. Once he walked me through it I understood that it would mean having a predictable revenue and not having to start all over every month. It seemed like a dream to me.”
They converted Screw U to a membership community in June 2015. “We just pushed the price to $79 a month. It’s open 24/7, so everyone who wants can join.”
However, because people can get in anytime, there’s no deadline for them to sign up and no pressure for them to join. “Truthfully, that’s been one of our biggest challenges with growing it. We don’t have thousands upon thousands of members. But I actually don’t even know if we’d want that many. Screw U as it is now has charm, and it’s the community that makes it what it is. Still, we’re starting to go all in on free in person meetups, which we call screw ups. Additionally we have the free Facebook group, ads, funnels and we do free tours.”
Taking the Pulse of Your Audience Using Your Facebook Group
Jill’s Facebook group had over 45k members when she decided to close it down. “It was becoming this chamber of noise. People were coming in with a motive, they spamed the group. We were getting 400-500 requests a day and it was hard to keep up with how many people were coming in with the wrong intentions.” Jill shut it down and moved to a new group where she is building up her true community again. “Now, we’re more careful about who we let in. We have clear rules and ask questions to people who want to join. Now, it feels much more engaged, less noisy and people come in with better intentions. In the last group, we had about 5000 people who were banned. In this one, we only have 80.”
Jill and Josh also use the Facebook group as a channel to figure out who is interested in joining Screw U. “It’s our channel to spread the message and get to know people. It’s where the warmup happens.”
As a next step, Jill shares a Facebook live to engage group members. “Now, we’re moving away from a live show and more towards a recorded podcast, which is batchable content. I’m pregnant, so I’m looking for a way to have some time again.” Jill got that insight from starting a poll in the Facebook group. “I asked if they preferred the Facebook live or a recorded podcast, and the majority sided with the podcast. That's what I love about free Facebook groups. You can use them to take the pulse of your audience. You can talk to them and not at them the way that you do with email lists.”
Getting People into a Paid Community and Keeping Them There
Each podcast episode has a relevant content upgrade associated with it. “We’re always trying to move people who listened to the Facebook live or podcast onto our list with relevant content upgrades based on that topic.”
From there, the goal is to get them into the paid community. “We have a nurture sequence. Once they join our list they are presented with a relevant offer right away for a timed period. Then they go into a nurture list which just educates them on what we're all about and the three core components of Screw U. We ask them if they want to book a tour. We're now building this out with the free meet ups that we're doing, which will be another way of spreading the word.”
Once people have joined the community, the key is to keep them there. “Right now, our members stay for 14 months on average. Integrating new members and keeping them for a long period of time is one of our key focuses. When someone joins, they book a call with our community manager or someone on our team and we help them integrate into the community, connect with other members and understand how Screw U works. Because it’s such a tight knit group of people who know each other, we have this whole lingo that we all operate under and if you're new to that it can feel really overwhelming and a bit intimidating.”
In addition, newcomers post a welcome video which makes them feel seen, heard and acknowledged immediately. “We constantly look for ways to help people integrate into the community. It’s our job to give them great experiences, because with a membership site, it’s a monthly game. Unless someone joins annually, they can cancel at any point. That’s why if you want people to stay, you have to give them an experience that feels inclusive and value driven.”
Jill and Josh have also developed a training framework to help people in the community understand where they should start. “We call it momentum marketing, but it will change into Screw System. We knew from feedback that people often feel overwhelmed and thought about a roadmap we could give them that they can follow without feeling frustrated. It essentially breaks down the five stages of an online business. When people come in they take a quiz, which allows us to figure out where they're at in the model. Then we tailor their experience so that they know exactly what to focus on in the next month.”
When it comes to community based membership sites, people may think that they're joining for the content. “But they will always stay for the community. We make that a real priority inside Screw U. We’re nothing if we are not community builders, so we put that at the forefront of everything we do,” Jill says.
Every week they do something to re-engage their members. “In the first week of the month, we do our Screwstring Sessions. We hired Heather Gray who is a registered therapist and she coaches our members through certain mindset hiccups or helps give them perspective or re-frames around how to deal with all the mental stuff we all go through. In week two we have the hot seat coaching calls and in the third week we do our Momentum Masterminds which are member driven. We also have office hours with our team member Renee where members can ask all around tech and WordPress because a lot of people get stumped there. On week four we have another round of hot seats, because they're so popular we had to add a second round.”
On top of that, Jill and Josh do recorded Q&A videos to answer everyone's questions every week.
Surrounded by Like Minded People
They also use a virtual office software they set up as an online campus. “It’s called Sococo. There are a lot of rooms you can go into and co-work with others. What people do is set a timer for 25 minutes and they keep their videos on but are on mute, and they work. After the 25 minutes, they take five minutes to debrief each other on what they got done, then they repeat the process. Like this, people blaze through their to-do lists, create courses and are really achieving progress. They get so much done.”
Apart from getting things done, the goal of the virtual campus is to give people a place where they are surrounded by like minded people. “We have people running multiple six figure businesses with big launches and big traffic. They're just looking for a place with people who get it. The online business journey can feel lonely, a lot of people don't get what we do. We crave to be around people who do. Our goal is to create a space where they can come and feel like they belong somewhere.”With membership sites, you are at the mercy of the member experience. - Jill Stanton
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