How Rapha Generated £1.6M on Community Memberships
Rapha is a leading cycling apparel and accessory company.
Their online community, Rapha Cycling Club (RCC), has:
- 23K+ Members
- 1K+ Monthly Group Rides
- 800+ Chapters
- 500+ Ride Leaders
Rapha dropped the price of their membership program by 48% and reduced membership messaging by 64% from 14 benefit bullet points to 5.
(i) Iterate the terms and cost of your membership program every year or two.
(ii) For membership overview landing pages, keep benefit messaging to 5 points with the option to see details.
Membership benefits are 50% product discounts and 50% member and brand connection.
(i) Offer discounts beyond your brand with other products that complement and support the use of yours.
(ii) Create initiatives that connect members to each other and offer your support (through insurance or bike hires).
Rapha built an additional community of 229K+ members on Strava.
(i) Find where your audience spends time & be present.
(ii) Build contests to give participants membership ‘lite’.
Organic & paid search are used to tap into local searches with 581 organic keywords and $23K in spend.
(i) Combine organic & paid strategies for search.
(ii) Target active searchers looking for opportunities in their cities (ie. rapha boulder).
(iii) Let landing pages give a glimpse into membership life.
Rapha has over 500 ride leaders. These are RCC members that are heavily involved in the community.
(i) Provide opportunities for growth within your community.
(ii) Don’t impose social media posting rules, choose people who are already posting about your brand organically.
Rapha has over 27 regional club accounts with 493K followers used to help viewers aspire to club life.
(i) Use Instagram as social proof for prospective members to see that your community is active.
(ii) Let regional accounts post about their respective events, in their respective languages.
Target current buyers through your website and emails subtly- only 7% of emails mention RCC in the past year.
(i) Let non-members ‘preview’ collections for 24 hours while stating that members are already shopping.
(ii) Feature members, events and rides in emails to build messaging frequency around your community.
Experiment with membership cost and list community benefits within 5 main points.
Note some links are from 2017 and 2019 and may not load completely.
Develop a holistic community benefit program.
50% of benefits are product discounts and 50% are member and brand connection opportunities.
Find partners that complement your products.
RCC provides discounts to products they don’t offer, but that will inspire members to cycle & buy apparel.
Branded benefits should enable purchases.
RCC makes it easy for members to buy with them by giving discounts on products and express shipping.
Make safety & mobility for biking easy while they travel.
Members can rent bikes abroad, get accident coverage, find trail routes from locals and get discount coffee at cafes.
Host in-person community building events.
Members can easily meet up with people in their region to ride together, go to events and do overnight trips.
Allow communication between members to flow online.
Enable member discussions with themed forums and weekly Tuesday Zwift rides (online biking).
Brand awareness drives traffic to Rapha’s content featuring RCC.
The top 3 channels infer visitor knowledge of Rapha. Especially Referrals, which come from the main website.
Worldwide website marketing attribution for Desktop and Mobile from June 2022 to May 2023
Target both prospective and current buyers.
RCC marketing reaches both loyal buyers and people who’ve never engaged with the brand before.
Be where the cyclists are.
Strava is a fitness tracking and metric app used by 100M+ athletes across the world.
- Offer a Membership ‘Lite’
Give cyclists who are already engaging in a form of community building (Strava) the chance to engage for free before committing to a membership.
- Build Contests out of Existing Events
Every year, Rapha offers two of their events, Women’s 100 and Festive 500, as Strava challenges. If riders finish the ‘challenge’, they get entered in a chance to win a bike.
Redefine social media.
Use Strava as a social media channel itself to enable community & branded posts.
- Be Active & Online
Rapha’s main Strava account has 229K+ members and is used to post about races, products and stories.
- Act as a Vessel for Conversation
The RCC (26K members) and Rapha Women’s (23K members) channels feature posts by the brand but largely focus on letting community members post rides and track distances in a collective space.
Host off-season events.
Zwift (1M+ downloads from June ‘22 to May ‘23) is a virtual cycling training system.
- Give a Taste of Community
Any rider can participate in “Rapha Rising”, a collaboration between Zwift and Rapha. Give non-members an idea of what it’s like being part of the club as a taste for membership perks like weekly club Zwift rides.
- Online Apparel
Virtual riders need Rapha apparel too! Create game attire to let riders work towards winning online club kits and upgrades by participating.
Use organic and paid search to target local queries.
Rapha has 581 organic ranking keywords and spent $22.9K* on search from June ‘22 to May ‘23.
Landing pages talk about the perks of clubhouses and RCC.
A calendar is linked to the landing page that shows all the RCC-only events.
Give club members room for growth within the community.
Rapha’s “Ride Leader” program allows outstanding members to receive training and lead in their locations.
- Give Loyal Fans a Platform
Rapha elevates everyday people who love their brand to be the voice of their local communities.
- Keep it Real
Rapha doesn’t enforce any social media posting regulations and terms for Ride Leaders. Many leaders have less than 1K followers— but tight-knit communities. Most ride leaders post about the brand out of love and engagement with it.
Make a membership Instagram account.
Use it to show followers what membership life is like.
- Use Storytelling to Share Moments
Content gives followers an idea of how the club operates and how people take advantage of the program. Over three posts, RCC shared carousels of images taking viewers through a 3 day “escape” as members rode from Copenhagen to Berlin.
- Don’t Oversell
Rapha only shared 2 posts each about the RCC on their main accounts, Rapha and Rapha Women from June 2022 to May 2023.
Let prospects see what membership is like in their region.
Rapha has 27 regional Instagram accounts with 493K total followers.
Use accounts to write in regional languages and post about respective events in their area as social proof of activity.
Speak directly to RCC members on your site.
Instead of keeping member perks on private pages, let other browsers know what they’re missing.
- Show Buyers What They Have to Wait For
During early access sale or release periods, Rapha includes a top banner stating that RCC members have 24-hour early access. They make collections or sales browsable by others but unable to buy until later if not a member.
- Use Strong Language in Hero Banners
Rapha’s homepage hero banner indicates that non-RCC members will be “previewing” the sale while RCC members shop.
Keep email messaging about community subtle.
Out of 141 emails (in English) from June 2022 to May 2023, only 4% mention RCC while 3% had overt CTAs about it.
- Position Community Copy Lower in Emails
Rapha includes RCC messaging lower in emails so that only engaged readers will notice.
- Share What Non-Members Are Missing
Include moments from successful events and trips that are exclusive to members. Rapha offers options to learn more about trips or directly sign up for RCC.
- Extend the Community
Convince members who are already loving your community to gift a membership to a friend.
Mention membership without “selling”.
RCC stories and members are subtly cast throughout emails, without any CTAs.
- Highlight Members
Promote products, events and company information by highlighting members in your copy. Small mentions of “A member of the RCC…” bring a frequency of messaging to readers that isn’t overbearing.
- Promote Without Mentioning
Use copy to talk about RCC events without mentioning the RCC. People who are interested will click through and learn more about it to then find out it’s part of a program.
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