Last updated August 30th, 2023 at 08:37 pm
The recently launched membership website for the Southeastern Bluegrass Association (a project I wrote about here recently) — powered by WordPress and MemberPress — allows only logged-in members to access some content, completely hiding (protecting) that content from unauthorized visitors. But we’re also using MemberPress to partially hide content. In other words, while logged-in members can access such content (say, a page or a blog post) in its entirety, unauthorized visitors can access a little bit of it.
Specifically, we have some blog posts that are reprints of articles from the organization’s “Breakdown” newsletter (something only members can download), and we’re allowing unauthorized visitors to read excerpts of these posts. Right below the excerpt is a callout box that encourages the visitors to join SEBA so they can access all content without restriction.
Here’s a acreenshot of one such blog post, as seen by an unauthorized visitor:
Why Partially Protect Content?
When you partially protect content, you are, by definition, partially exposing content. And that’s the point. By displaying a portion of content that you otherwise restrict to logged-in members, you have the opportunity to advertise the benefits of membership using actual content — and not just bold claims. Think about it: If all of your premium content is hidden from the public, how will those people know your content is valuable enough for them to become members?
Yes, we’re talking “teaser” here. This is not unlike your favorite streaming service letting you watch the first 3 episodes of a show only to make you upgrade your plan to see the rest of the season. And who among us still remembers the pre-COVID days of free samples at Costco and Sam’s Club — and didn’t occasionally take the bait?
A Use Case for Partially Protecting Content
As I mentioned earlier, the use case I’m describing here pertains to selected blog posts on the membership website of the Southeastern Bluegrass Association (“SEBA”).
First, a little more background.
One of the main perks of membership is unlimited 24/7/365 online access to PDF versions of the organization’s monthly newsletter, the “Breakdown“. As of this writing, that amounts to almost 200 newsletters, dating back to 2007.
From time to time, website administrators make one or more selected newsletters freely available to the public, as a “sneak peek” that might encourage new membership sign-ups.
Our thinking was that many of the articles in the monthly newsletter could be reprinted as blog posts. But instead of making the full article freely available to any website visitor, we decided to “tease” the public by displaying only a portion of the article — along with a link to the registration form and an explanation that members have unrestricted access to all content.
How to Partially Protect Content Using MemberPress
With MemberPress, you can partially restrict content in a few ways. This knowledgebase article at MemberPress.com describes the options for partial protection of content.
Every MemberPress rule supports a number of configuration settings. The pertinent settings in this use case where I’m partially protecting content are:
- content to be protected
- access conditions (how to determine which logged-in users get access to the protected content)
- content shown to unauthorized visitors
- unauthorized message (what unauthorized visitors will see instead of the protected content
- whether to display a login form where the protected content would be
And here’s how I proceeded:
- I chose to create a rule that would be applied to all posts tagged ‘Sneak Peek’.
- All active members with any membership (Personal or Business) could access the protected content.
- Unauthorized visitors would see content above the WordPress more quicktag.
- In the place of the protected content, unauthorized visitors will see a callout instructing them to log in or encouraging them to join SEBA.
- The login form appears below the callout.
Here are screenshots of the admin panels for setting up the rule:
It’s still very early, so the jury is still out as to whether our use of partial protection of content is “working” at the SEBA website. If we do get new members as a result of the “Sneak Peek” strategy, I’m not sure we’ll know —unless they tell us.
What do you think of this strategy? Do you own or operate a membership website where you’ve implemented something similar? What membership plugins have you used? Do you have different ideas of how to use membership plugins to grow memberships? Let me know in the comments below.