Have you ever come across appealing content only to find that you can’t actually access it?
When this happens, you probably spend the next minute or two troubleshooting potential ways to bypass the block, only to confirm that this content is indeed “member-only”.
To the outsider, this can be extremely frustrating; but to the insider, member-only content is an exclusive benefit. As an executive, leader, or marketer within your association, you may have trialed member-only content in the past, and those results may have landed anywhere on the spectrum spanning from “enormous success” to “utter failure”.
But if you’re new to the idea of member-only content, it presents a decision that you and your team will likely need to make at some point. Member-only content or public content? It’s a seemingly binary decision, but there are greater implications that come with the choice you make. So, let’s weigh the pros and cons of member-only and public content so that you can make the right decision for your organization’s content moving forward.
Let’s start with member-only content. If you’re on the fence about producing content that only members are able to access, you should ask a few questions. The very first of these questions is: what is the purpose of my content? Are you looking to inform your readers of a particular issue? Are you trying to drive more traffic to your site? Are you simply issuing content as an incentive for membership? Are you trying to monetize your content by teaming up with other influencers, sponsors, or brands?
Depending on how you use your content, you can start to determine whether your content should be made available to the masses, or to a handful of devoted members. If you’re using content to drive traffic, it would make sense for your content to be published publically; but if your content is a membership benefit, however, then perhaps your association should place restrictions that hide your content from non-members.
But that leads us to a second question: How effective is my member-only content? As a leader of an organization, you know that people give, donate, or sign up for membership for a number of different reasons. Some are actually incentivized by your membership benefits. Others care primarily about your organization’s cause and aren’t as interested in your membership benefits. As you’d imagine, this plays a huge role in whether or not your content should be exclusive. Are you staying current on your content’s data? Most website hosts can provide you with real-time analysis of your content. How many of your members read your emails and announcements? How many click through to your content? Think about it – if your members aren’t paying much attention to your content, is it really a valuable benefit? So, if you’re not finding success with your members, it may be time to open your content up to the public – or better yet, improve your content.
A third basic question to ask is: how relevant is my content? And this is when you have to take a good look in the mirror. If not even your members are clicking through to read what you have to say, you might have to consider whether there’s a greater issue with the content itself . . .
Are you covering subjects that are helpful to people, or are you producing content for the sake of producing content? Does it feel stale? Bland? Uninspired? Gather some feedback by doing any of the following:
• Ask your members what topics they would like to see covered.
• Poll your members on which content type they prefer to consume (i.e. video, graphics, blog posts, etc).
• Issue a survey with a list of potential topics and use that information to plan out future content.
With a little homework, planning, and communication between your organizations and its members, you can prime your content weeks – perhaps even months – in advance. And the best part? You’ll have valuable, relevant content that you can use however you wish. There’s still a market for member-only content, and of course, there will always be room for content that is made public as well. But when you identify your content’s purpose, its effectiveness, and its relevancy, you’ll be able to make adjustments that will improve its influence.