There used to be a time when you could leave it all up to chance, but nowadays as a result of the sheer number of websites which come into existence and die out, gaining the required critical mass for the justified operation of your membership site takes a proactive approach. Many websites which make for some seriously good ideas often never get to see the light of day, falling by the wayside merely as a result of not quite gaining the traction they need to attract that critical number of users to demonstrate their value for what it really is.
If you’re operating any form of membership site, chances are your ultimate aim is indeed to generate a profit out of it, but even if you’re perhaps operating something like a community website where profits don’t make up the main goal, the fact remains that there is a certain number of users which needs to be associated with your site in order for it to function in the manner you initially intended.
The question, however, is “How exactly does one go about gaining that required critical mass?”
Naturally there are many approaches one can take, some of which are a lot more effective than others and some of which are even a lot less ethical than others. If you have a brand associated with your membership website then you want to keep things above-board and so you should stay far away from the so-called “black-hat” approach to generating traffic and trying to build up critical mass. Under-handed tactics may work, but they only work in the short term and eventually it’ll only be your website’s users (and your bottom line) who suffer from a user experience that turns out not to be quite what it was initially made out to be.
Users now, profits later
If you take the time to look around the web for some information about Hollywood casino as an example of how casino platforms gain critical mass, you’ll notice one glaring factor that stands out above everything else. There is always but always some sort of free offer, or rather some sort of value which is given away for free. It really doesn’t matter what it is you give away by way of the offered free value – what matters is that in this way you’re indirectly or perhaps even directly running a very important test. You’re testing the functionality of your site while at the same time pulling users in and this is the correct way to go about gaining critical mass, whatever your specific membership site is about.
So it’s a matter of pulling in users first and then later finding a way to introduce your monetisation mechanism and as is the case with the mentioned casino example, sometimes just being invited to use a specific platform is in itself the value proposition.
Think about the likes of Facebook as perhaps another example – the value resides in being able to use the platform for its basic functionality and that is ultimately what’s important if you want to gain and retain critical mass for your membership website.
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