Limit the Amount of Free Content: Let Your Members Reap the Benefits

Posted: Feb 7, 2020

While it is generous to provide content for the world to see, every website should have a section that is restricted for members only. Not all content should not be available for public consumption. The more content that is designated as “Member’s Only,”  the more value it is to individuals who have registered for a membership.

A little mystery goes a long way

People are naturally curious. Sometimes people sign up for a subscription just to see what’s behind the mysterious wall. Put yourself in the potential members’ shoes. If you are about to purchase a membership, what will you get out of it? Users want to know that in exchange for their data, they will receive valuable content not available to anyone else and will feel more inclined to subscribe.

In addition to members, industry leaders are more likely to support the website by offering content if their information isn’t provided to the general public. Content creators are typically more inclined to offer more detail, personal experience and honesty about a subject when it is limited to a specific group. Think about Facebook, for example. Most people wouldn’t share pictures of their newborn baby with the world, but because you can limit your privacy settings so that only “Friends” can see your content, you might feel more comfortable posting those personal images. Think of “Members” as “Friends,” in this scenario.

Having content specifically for members promotes the exchange of ideas on your website. If you are hesitant about enabling comments on your site to the general public, you have every right to be. You need to be cautious of what some are calling “internet trolls,” who create havoc with their anonymous, and mostly irrelevant, unsolicited comments. However, enabling a comments section on your content can be a perk for members only. By allowing comments on content by only users who are registered, you can limit the amount of irrelevant comments because you recognize the users who are commenting.

How it works

Adjusting your website’s settings to incorporate Members Only content is simple if you are using a high-quality CMS. For example, the CMS Sitefinity allows you to set content to only be accessed by specific user roles. You can set permissions on essentially anything, including news items, events, pages and more. If the user is not assigned that particular role, they will not be able to access that page or content type.

Knowing that all content has the ability to be restricted can help you decide on how to set up your website. For example, you have 12 news articles, but only want the general public to have access to 4 of them. You set the restrictions for the remaining 8 at the content type level. If you list out all of the news articles on a page that is not restricted, anyone can access that page, but depending on your user role, that page will display differently. For the general public, they will only see the 4 articles. Those with the member role can view all 12.

User roles and logins

A user role is simply a permission setting. Each user is classified by a specific role. For example, anyone who visits a website but is not logged in as a known user is classified as an unauthenticated user. Anonymous users are considered unauthenticated,  therefore it is important to have an “Anonymous” role. If you want individuals who are not logged in to be able to access specific content, you would set the permissions on the content to “Anonymous.”

Therefore, the reverse is true. People who are authenticated, or who are logged into your website, can have an entirely different experience.

Let’s say you want to launch a campaign to increase revenue. You can set a document to live behind a login. A new registration is $10. You decide to allow anyone with an account to preview the document but limit access of opening the document to only individuals who registered. You can send an email blast with a link to the document or have a page with the link to the document on a public page. Anyone that selects the link and is not logged into the website, will be redirected to a registration page that prompts the user to enroll.

You get what you pay for

If you have a website, it is means you have the ability to gain revenue. It is an expense to maintain a website, therefore it is important that the website can drive membership and lead to new prospects and revenue. Consider the work you put into maintaining a website and the value it adds to those consuming the work. It is reasonable that the work should not be provided for free. Consider this when creating content, and not only you, but your members will benefit.

If you have questions or want to learn more regarding user permissions and roles to establish rich Members Only content, reach out to your Vanguard Client Services Manager to see how your site can reach its full potential.

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Ken Anderson