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How to Create a Members Area and Boost Your Digital Business

A members area is a space where your students can access your content. Check out how to create one for your business!

Illustration of a members area template

If you’ve started your journey into the world of digital entrepreneurship or have created your own digital product, you’ve probably already learned a few new terms and concepts. There’s a good chance that “members area” is among them.

A members area is an exclusive online space where users can access specific content, such as online courses, video lessons, or ebooks, usually by logging in via username and password.

You’ve probably already come across a few when accessing discussion forums or news portals.

In the case of online courses, a members area allows you to organize lessons, offer students new modules, track each student’s progress, and deliver a unique experience!

Keep reading this article to learn how to create a members area and how it can help boost your digital product.

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What i a members area? What is the purpose of it? What is the difference between a members area and a digital product platform? How to decide if you need to host your online course in a members area What features should it have? Advantages of hosting your course in a members area How much does it cost? Do I need to hire someone to manage the platform? How do you bring qualified traffic to your members area? Offer your students a full experience with a members area
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What is a members area?

A members area refers to content that can only be accessed by logging in with a username and password. This is quite common on news sites that contain subscription plans or exclusive content for premium users.

Many schools and higher education institutions also adopt a this system, or a learning management systems (LMS) as it’s also known. When it comes to educational institutions, a LMS is intended to support the content of face-to-face classes, or promote content exclusively for distance learning.

Besides allowing users to access exclusive content, members areas also have other functions, as you’ll see below.

What is the purpose of a members area?

Besides mostly hosting ODL (online distance learning) courses, the main features are to:

  • Automate the process of delivering digital materials
  • Control the number of accesses to content
  • Monitor student progress
  • Answer any questions students might have
  • Ensure the security of your digital course

What is the difference between a members area and a digital product platform?

A digital product platform is responsible for hosting and distributing third-party digital products. It’s also responsible for processing payments, bridging the gap between consumers, payment methods, and the product.

However, not every digital product platform will have a members area available to users.

A members area, on the other hand, is a more robust space where products can be hosted, promoted, and sold.

How to decide if you need to host your online course in a members area

Despite already being a digital creator, it’s important to identify if your online course really needs a members area. If your course is based on an ebook or simpler materials with few modules, there’s no need to invest in this kind of platform.

You should consider using a members area if:

  • Your online course contains video lessons, screencasts, supplementary materials, audio files, or other complex file formats.
  • Your course has many modules and you want to have control over the release of each of them. In other words, allow your students to access a module only after they’ve watched the previous module.
  • You want to track your students’ learning process to improve your classes.
  • You want to offer a space for discussion and feedback on each lesson.
  • You’re interested in creating evaluations to test your students’ level of knowledge.
  • You want to generate leads for your business with free modules.

As you can see, the members area system opens many doors for a digital business. If you‘re only getting started as a digital entrepreneur and are testing your market, consider using a members area to further professionalize your online course.

VIDEO: Digital entrepreneurship: what is it and how to get started | 7 tips to start an online business

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What features should a members area have?

It’s very important to research the best tools on the market before contracting the ideal platform for your business; after all, you must have full confidence in the services provided to your business.

When looking for a platform, you should check several features that’ll be essential to keep your business running automatically. These include the following:

  • Automatic installation: The system is completely intuitive and already built for anyone who doesn’t understand programming to be able to easily use it.
  • Automatic delivery of access with a username and password via email: After the purchase confirmation, the info is sent to the buyer without you having to perform the process manually.
  • Support for various file formats: You have the option of adding videos, PDFs, audio files, and various other formats.
  • Dividing lessons into modules: Organize your course in a didactic manner, separating each lesson into different modules.
  • Controlled content delivery: You decide when a new module will be made available.
  • Certificate delivery: Automatically sends a certificate of completion to all of your students.
  • Student progress tracking: You can check your students’ progress and analyze whether there are any critical points where they usually drop out. This is ideal for implementing improvements.
  • Comments section: An area for students to ask you questions and engage with other students, thus fostering teacher-student contact and trust.
  • Login page customization: Customize your course’s login page with the same look as your brand. This way, students will know they can trust the website.
  • Layout customization: Change the colors of your members area to generate empathy from your audience.
  • Digital creator support: If you have any questions, you’ll have support to help you immediately.
  • Buyer support: Even with all the instructions, some of your buyers may have access difficulties, and with personalized support you won’t have to worry about the questions.
  • Sales tracking reports: Track your business’ performance in real time and receive a notification for each sale made.
  • Integration with Google Analytics: Measure accesses, visitor demographics, and behaviors that may be relevant to your sales strategies.
  • Security certificate with encrypted protection of your data: Guaranteed security for you and your students.
  • URL customization: Easily customize your URL.
  • Integration with a secure payment platform: Ensure the protection of your customers’ financial info.

The list is long, isn’t it? But don’t worry, you can find all the above mentioned items on the market. Some other features that, at first, might not seem as relevant, but that can raise your business’ potential are: integration with a good affiliate program and the option of accepting international payments.

An affiliate program can generate partners for your business. They’ll promote your product in exchange for a commission that you define beforehand! 

With international payments, you open the doors to internationalizing your business and selling worldwide!

Advantages of hosting your course in a members area

Automated processes are one of the main benefits members areas can provide digital entrepreneurs. They’ll have time to use their marketing skills and attract new students.

But this isn’t the only benefit of creating a dedicated space to your community. By offering an exclusive space for your students, you:

Offer a full experience

With a members area, you deliver much more to students than just your digital product. This space allows you to develop your own teaching methodology, track students’ progress, and keep them engaged with your content.

Increase your chances of selling more

Certain members areas, such as Hotmart’s, have several features to increase the chances of sales within the platform, such as extra modules, repurchase options, and an affiliate program.

Closely track student progress

The success of an online course depends on student progress. A members area allows you to closely monitor each student’s performance.

Strengthen your relationship with students

Just because your course is online doesn’t mean your teacher-student relationship should be cold and mediated by automatic and impersonal messages. Quite the contrary!

With a members area like Hotmart’s, for example, your students can submit questions, suggestions, and feedback. Plus, you can send targeted communications, further strengthening your relationship with them.

How much does a members area cost?

Now that you understand what it is and how it should work, it’s time to talk about how much to invest. It’s true that a digital venture can cost much less than a brick-and-mortar business, but you probably alredy know that you’ll still have to spend some money.

There are many platforms available at different price points. The good news is that in 2016, Hotmart launched its own members area, completely free of charge, and, of course, it has all the features mentioned above! 

Do I need to hire someone to manage my members area?

If you’ve just made the decision to become a digital entrepreneur, you’ll certainly have many other duties besides managing a members area, but with the support that the tool itself provides, you’ll be able to handle it.

Overall, a members area (free or paid), is completely intuitive so that anyone can manage it. Interfaces are user-friendly and you basically just have to upload files to start using it.

Once your course is launched, you can easily keep track of the modules, comments on each page, and closely monitor how your sales are doing!

If you have someone helping you with your business, on Hotmart Club for example, you can assign administrators (complete management of the tool) and editors (edit and add content) roles.

How do you bring qualified traffic to your members area?

This topic is about how to make sales, and to do so, you must know your audience well, by building personas and carefully structuring segmented strategies.

Use resources such as email marketing, social media, blogging, conversion-focused landing pages, buying traffic, and affiliate programs.

We’ve published a series of posts that show you everything you need to know about sales strategies. For starters, read the first article about the sales process.

 

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Offer your students a full experience with a members area

A members area can enhance your students’ experience and assist you in organizing your online course.

If you value ease and usability, this might be the best resource to launch your digital product and for its overall success.

If you enjoyed this post or have any questions, share them with us in the comments below! Check out our members’ area, Hotmart Club, by clicking here.

 

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This post was originally written in September 2016 and has since been updated to contain more complete and accurate information.