Many investors pass over startups with high user counts in favor of profitable businesses, but you can't make money without buyers. Before you abandon your current marketing efforts to monetize your user base, consider your company's future -- and the customer relationships you'll need to secure it.

Small companies must grow their membership bases to establish their staying power. Plenty of companies pop up, grab a bit of attention and fade away as their fan bases stagnate. Long-lasting companies capture the attention of their target consumers and keep the momentum by using proven strategies to grow their audiences.

Consider these tactics to grow your membership base:

1. Democratize engagement.

Do your members feel the drive to share their love for your company? If not, invite them to get in on the action. Users are more likely to engage with your brand when you give them opportunities to become part of a community. 

Photography platform ViewBug has managed to thrive, despite Instagram's dominance in the social photography niche, by boosting engagement through challenges and contests. Users can vote on their favorite photos and submit their own to compete for prizes, which encourages them to bring their friends to the platform. With more than 5,000 competitions, 50 million submitted photos, and 1 billion votes to date, ViewBug's interactive approach is key to its growth. 

2. Dominate one platform first.

As your membership base grows through one channel, you may feel tempted to start making more of your other accounts. Resist that temptation. Invest heavily in channels and platforms that work well for your business to make the most of your existing membership base's clout. You can broaden your horizons eventually, but not before you start to see a slowdown on your primary platform.

If you struggle to choose one platform over the other, marketing powerhouse HubSpot has you covered. Think about the advantages of investing in your YouTube channel, which works well for content but carries higher production expenses, versus Facebook, which has tons of scrolling users but potentially weaker engagement opportunities.

3. Deliver content that keeps them coming.

What happens after your members sign up? Do they consume all your content and languish on your subscriber list when they're through? Or do you regularly provide them with the connection they crave? People like small businesses for their personalities, and you'll need plenty of content to back you up if you want to keep your membership growth rate strong.

The general rules of content marketing apply, but don't neglect distribution in the bargain. Those videos, pictures, blog posts, and user-generated creations won't help you grow if you don't promote them on both owned and paid channels. Social media management company Buffer dramatically improved its own social media success by promoting a user-generated content campaign through its Instagram account. Create more of the content your members love, then use their social networks -- and your own -- to transform those content investments into growth.

As popular as subscription services and memberships have become, people are still picky about the brands with which they do business. To grow your clout and attract more members, you must not only give people what they want but also make them feel like part of the revolution you started.