Marketing lesson for online businesses. How to make them buy your products/services?
How (& Why) I ended up becoming a member of Medium?
What I learned after buying the membership (understanding the buyer’s journey for your business)
I’ve been a huge fan of Medium since the time Quora & Medium were head to head. (Medium is miles ahead now)
Since that time, I believed in Medium. I believed that Medium will outrank Quora and the platform has a way better authority that Quora has (& will ever have)
This post is about my journey of being a non-member to being a medium membership program user, and what I learned from the purchase I made. The purchase of $50 has taught me a lesson that can take a business (your business) with a thin profit (or zero) to a big fat and thick profit.
The lessons learned will be implemented in all the businesses I have & the clients I serve.
Let’s begin with a little story of my temptation towards buying the membership.
Note: Read this story as a consumer, and not as a seller or any other professional.
I’m a digital marketing consultant. I help people with setting their business online, repurpose my content, & find leads on medium.
Since the time when the medium expanded the membership program for everyone, I’ve been tempted to opt for it.
But I couldn’t buy it for two main reasons
First, I didn’t have the money.
Second, when I had money, I challenged myself that I cannot buy the membership until I publish 1 post every day for the next 90 days.
So that was March 2017.
It’s March 2020 now.
I couldn’t buy the membership until today.
Obviously, I didn’t publish a post everyday. In fact, I didn’t publish even for months. I totally went inactive.
I’d wait for free-content to show up (which was least likely), or read the member-only content in incognito (yes it’s possible)
Medium is generous to read 3 member-only stories for free every month, which I would consume in the first 3–4 days.
But there was a problem here.
I couldn’t read it immediately, because I had other work at hand.
And I couldn’t save it because it was incognito. I can’t even save it for later reads.
Okay, I tried saving links in Google Keep, but there’s still a bunch of links still untouched & unread.
So, it didn’t serve the purpose.
There was a need. Locked inside my subconscious mind, which I didn’t even know exists.
It was so hidden that every time I watched the star of the member story, it triggered an emotion of needing the membership.
There was a discomfort. That pricky little thing inside my head, that was completely functional but I didn’t notice it’s existence.
That was a little bit of the back story.
So, where did it all begin?
What triggered my emotion, and hence the purchase?
It was 24th March, when I made the purchase.
I had just finished publishing a post on Medium and was browsing through the home page.
I stumbled upon a post, it was something I am researching for right now and that post would’ve been a great input.
But it was a member-only post.
So ‘it’ kicked in again.
That sense of discomfort.
I immediately noticed a cycle inside of me.
I’ll repurpose the cycle here:
Buyer’s journey under a microscope
I’ll explain a buyer’s journey with my purchase of medium membership as an example.
Every step of this cycle indicates the sin & cos (decision swings) I’ve been through before I finally made a purchase.
Make sure you relate to me at every step & compare it with your customers, potential or existing, doesn’t matter.
This journey, this pattern will help you create action plans & campaigns that will deal with these emotion sets & sterilize the purchase, ease of a bit.
1. There’s a trigger, there’s a discomfort of ‘not having it’
It all begins with the discomfort of ‘not having it’.
Remember I told you how I felt upon seeing the star next to the ‘member-only’ stories?
Yeah, that was the trigger of the discomfort, which in turn triggered the urge to buy the membership.
2. Discomfort magnifies & triggers action
The discomfort becomes FOMO.
I had the FOMO of missing out stories that had a lot of value. It indeed is.
A successful purchase is always triggered by the external factor(s). Factors that sellers control.
External factor triggers emotions, emotion overpowers logic and this leads to a sale — an action.
The same happened to me,
Logic said: ‘Buy once you consistently publish stories here’,
Emotion said: ‘Publish one post every day before you buy it’
Now that I’m on this side of the field, I get it. Emotions were right. The more you suppress it, the heavier it becomes.
“Emotions are like water, you can’t hold it for long.”
My discomfort was, not having the membership.
My action was, reading member-only stories in incognito mode (try it, & thank me later)
I couldn’t bookmark those stories, and saving it offline was a mess I didn’t want to get into.
Again, a Problem!
3. Discomfort reaches a peak, where it’s irresistible.
On March 24, the discomfort of ‘not being able to read stories that I think have the very high value’ went beyond control — it was irresistible.
“I’ll cancel my subscription if it doesn't work out or I don’t produce more content.’ — I said to myself.
However, this wasn’t the first time my discomfort went havoc — mayhem.
I controlled the urge, like may consumers do.
Every other time, I had an action plan for the purchase.
4. The discomfort devises an action plan for the purchase
I planned to buy the membership, only if I produce 1 piece of content every single day for at least 90 days.
I had put a cap that wasn’t helping me in any way. I set that to motivate me.
Reading ‘member-only’ stories was the reward, producing 1 post every day was the price.
The price was too expensive for me. Does that mean I don’t deserve the membership? Am I not worthy?
I just didn’t plan it right.
Most consumers make a purchase when they either don’t have a plan or have a wrong plan.
I bought the membership plan because I couldn’t resist ‘not having it’ anymore.
5. Equilibrium is attained
One the plan is in place, after hitting the high, I was set to attain an equilibrium.
It all went normal.
I went back to work, but I kept visiting medium to read.
Gradually, medium started showing more member-only stories which increased the discomfort for the time I would spend on the platform.
Show of things I urge to buy, show it more often. Little more often. Create more discomfort. Don’t let the equilibrium settle.
6. There’s distraction
Equilibrium doesn’t defy enough. I had to do more than attaining equilibrium.
The classic thing every customer does to not buy things. I was planning to buy the membership since 2017.
But I made a purchase, anyway.
That’s what customers do, they don’t buy until they can distract themselves no more.
7. There’s a deadlock
I lived in conjunction. You distract yourself & long to buy it — at the same time.
This is the time when the customer is one step away from conversion.
Deadlock is heavier than you think.
The cycle repeats. Either way, I win — eventually.
Action plan for your business — how you can use this journey to make more sales.
This was the cycle, the pattern I noticed, every time I used medium.
The same thing would happen to your target audience.
Every purchase goes through this cycle, every — single — time.
A great business should have a system that lets you control the users at every single level of the above mentioned cycle.
A classic tool that’s standard, more than a tool, it’s a framework.
Most of us would know it, but those who don’t, read on. And those who know it already, also keep reading on as I have optimized the framework a bit.
What’s that tool?
A Sales Funnel.
A sales funnel itself a portion of a bigger funnel of a business.
But we’ll focus only on sales funnel.
A typical sales funnel has 5 stages. See the image below.
Yeah, you’d say there are only 4 stages. 5th one is the optimization I have added to the funnel. Read further for the 5th one.
Let’s see how you can control the consumers in every stage.
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is selling to consumers who’re not even ready to buy from you. Well, 73% of businesses do it.
I was aware of the brand, medium, and it’s medium membership program.
So, to the medium as a business, I’d qualify for as a prospect.
The trick is to create content that does one job and does that right, spread awareness.
Medium does that really well. If you pay attention, medium delivers digest every day, or weekly, however you choose it.
This keep me in the loop. And guess what? Medium has 6–7 out of 10 stories member-only stories in the digest.
Sure you need a system in place that keeps track of the user activity on your business website.
Crazyegg is a great tool that tracks & records the heatmaps of the user’s mouse on your webpages. This tells you which portion of your webpages do users interact with.
This is just one of many tools you can use since the suggestions can be very subjective, I’ll keep my suggestion generic to crazyegg.
This is the stage when the prospect ‘plans to buy’. Like I did in step 4 of the cycle.
I was aware enough. It was time to buy, but ‘let's plan first’.
What medium did, in this case, is kept pushing me towards member-only stories, in my feed & in the digest.
I suppose medium has a system that I have abandoned the membership a couple of times. That is, I was one step away from making the payment a couple of times.
This move made the consideration even stronger.
Again, you need tracking tools.
The most basic one is Google Analytics.
Simply navigate to Conversions » Ecommerce » Shopping Behavior.
That’s just basic. You can get as geeky as possible to keep tracks & logs of the user behavior.
Track the users, show them what they’re losing. Keep haunting them, until they make a purchase. Like don’t be a creep, be gentle.
Here the users decide to buy. The make the purchase as per their plan or when they couldn’t resist anymore like I couldn’t resist anymore from buying the membership.
This is just before the equilibrium state, the dilemma of whether or not they should make a purchase.
You don’t have to do much here. You’re about to get paid.
You just got paid. But the game doesn’t end here. Gaining a new customer is more expensive than retaining one.
Keep the users engaged. Depending on the product/service you have, you need to figure out a way to keep the users engaged.
Medium is a blogging platform, UGC (user-generated content) rules here. It was natural that I’d be engaged here.
But all businesses wouldn’t be the same. Keeping the users engaged isn’t gonna be easy, but it can be if you know the audience right.
- Social media
- Email newsletters
- Blog posts
These are some of the many ways you can keep the users engaged. You need to dig so deep that it seems you’re targeting every single user as you know them individually. Simply make your content relatable.
Why all this important?
- People need to remember your brand.
- Make them loyal so that they advocate your brand.
This takes me to the optimization part — the 5th step.
You’re gonna love this.
I advocate medium. I’m at the 5th stage of the funnel.
I’m a paying customer and bring more users to the platform.
I’ll tell you the reason. Though it's subjective, it’s relatable.
I find new ideas on medium. Every line I read induces an idea for a new blog post.
I’m a digital marketing consultant. I use these platforms to build authority, backlinks is the last thing I care about.
I find value on this platform. I want people to get benefitted from this platform.
Humans have evolved that way. We love sharing valuable things, things that make us look good — we want others to perceive us as a good person.
Sharing such valuable content does that.
So all the steps in the cycle I went through with medium ensured I advocate the brand.
Consumers advocate a brand when the brands communicate or get relatable to their belief system, or builds a new belief system altogether.
Pick any brand, apple, to begin with, think why you advocate the brand? Though you don’t get anything in return from the brand. Apple doesn’t pay you, does it? Unless you buy it’s shares.
I’ll leave it to your imagination.