Lifetime memberships vs. 1-year memberships...has anyone tested?

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I've been doing pretty well for the last year or so selling lifetime memberships to a "members only" area of my website (which I call a "course" on my site) for various different prices. I have found $59/lifetime to be the sweet spot.

I am continuously adding more material to this member's area.

I tried setting up a $10/month or $97/year plan...but sales significantly plummeted when I did that. People seem to be swayed away from the whole recurring thing, which is understandable.

It was suggested to me that I should switch from $59/lifetime to just a simple 1-year membership (non-recurring) for the same price.

I just made the change today, so I will have to just wait and see what happens. I am a little nervous that it will result in a drop in sales though.

I'm wondering if anyone else has tested "lifetime" memberships vs. "1-year, non-recurring" memberships....and what were your findings?

#1year #lifetime #memberships #membershipshas #tested
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve B
    Remember the 3Ts of marketing: test, track, and tweak!

    You shouldn't be scared at all - if sales drop, you'll have your answer. The lifetime deal seems best to me ... for you (less processing and paperwork) and the customer (one-time fee).

    If you try to sell annually, your offer has to be really good and something new for the customer. Chances are good you may not get the returning members to pay in the 2nd year like you hope.

    By keeping customers on a lifetime plan [not their lifetime - but the lifetime of the program (make that clear)] you can keep them engaged and sell them other related things for a long, long time.


    Steve Browne, online business strategies, tips, guidance, and resources

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  • Profile picture of the author Deevoo
    Why not make all the offers available and let your customers choose? Just make sure that the higher the membership the more appealing the price is. Also, a table of plan comparison to clarify the difference between each plan is going to help your visitors make the decision suitable for them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Depends on your target market. If you follow serious B2B saas like those talks with, you'll find those customers like to pay for the year in advance provided they get a 10-20% discount. Has a tremendous effect on reducing churn.

    The average IMer probably doesn't have the cash to come up with the lump sum, however.

    I'll echo that the best thing to do is test.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Meaney
    Originally Posted by Bkelly301 View Post

    I'm wondering if anyone else has tested "lifetime" memberships vs. "1-year, non-recurring" memberships....and what were your findings?
    It's not that simple, there are too many variables.

    My results are irrelevant to your business, and there's no one-size fits all solution.

    For example... a few months ago, Guru X released some training that showed amazing results from a OTO right on the confirmation page, after a lead subscribes.

    I tested it on my own list, terrible results.

    Why? Because my whole message is different to Guru X, my audience is different, and the kind of relationship I build is different.

    So like Steve said, you have to do your own tests to find what works for you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    There's more to it than just marketing...there's legal issues concerning the phrase "life time membership" which I would avoid.

    I "think" it's against the law in California to have "life time" contracts and there may be issues with the FTC as well. What's a "life time"? Is it the life time of the membership/software, the buyer, the seller?

    While a one year membership may not be optimal from a marketing perspective, from a legal perspective it gives you an "out" after the last person to order has had access for one year.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bkelly301
    Thanks for the replies everyone!

    Just to clarify. My "course" is simply just a members-only area of my website. My website is a site where I teach music theory. Music theory is a never-ending topic which can go deeper and deeper almost endlessly.

    Currently my "course" (aka. access to the members area of my site) has a ton of content...enough that I have made over 100 sales within the last 5 months at the $59/lifetime price.

    People that join know that I will be consistently adding new content both to the free section of my site and the member-only area.

    Despite them knowing that, people were still swayed away from a recurring model (I offered monthly and yearly recurring options).

    So I decided to try $59 for 1 year. If they want to sign back up again after 1 year, it's up to them. I figure that this way at least gives a percentage of them a chance to buy from me again. With the lifetime membership model, that chance is non-existent (at least not for this particular product which is my one and only product at the moment).

    But you are right, I have to test and see what happens. That is the only way to know for sure!
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  • Profile picture of the author DURABLEOILCOM
    I would stick to the Lifetime Membership it is a better deal that entices customers to follow through with a purchase, you can always up sell those customers as well.
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  • Profile picture of the author Obermair
    There is a wonderful study on pricing in the book Predictably Irrational. Offer multiple pricing choices and let the market decide. Below is a section from the book that discussing multiple offer marketing. You can bump up the price if the offer appears better and the client thinks they are getting something for free!

    Here is what the offer in the book states...

    Pick the type of subscription you want to buy or renew.
    • subscription - US $59.00 One-year subscription to
    Includes online access to all articles from The Economist since 1997.
    • Print subscription - US $125.00 One-year subscription to the print edition of The Economist.
    • Print & web subscription - US $125.00 One-year subscription to the print edition
    of The Economist and online access to all
    articles from The Economist since 1997.


    I read these offers one at a time. The first offer--the Inter* net subscription for $59--seemed reasonable. The second option--the $125 print subscription--seemed a bit expen* sive, but still reasonable.
    But then I read the third option: a print and Internet sub* scription for $125.1 read it twice before my eye ran back to the previous options. Who would want to buy the print option alone, I wondered, when both the Internet and the print sub* scriptions were offered for the same price? Now, the print-only option may have been a typographical error, but I suspect that the clever people at the Economist's London offices (and they are clever--and quite mischievous in a British sort of way) were actually manipulating me. I am pretty certain that they wanted me to skip the Internet-only option (which they assumed would be my choice, since I was reading the advertisement on the Web) and jump to the more expensive option: Internet and print.
    But how could they manipulate me? I suspect it's because the Economist's marketing wizards (and I could just picture them in their school ties and blazers) knew something impor* tant about human behavior: humans rarely choose things in absolute terms. We don't have an internal value meter that tells us how much things are worth. Rather, we focus on the relative advantage of one thing over another, and estimate value accordingly.

    Anyway - give it some thought!
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  • Profile picture of the author Renatas Budrys
    It all depends on the price and the terms of different memebership types
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