While it’s true that there’s an ocean of free information floating around the Internet, sometimes content is just too good to hand out for nothing. Creating a subscription-based website that allows premium-level customers to have access to gated content is one of the most profitable digital business models out there.
The number of benefits that come with creating a new subscription website or implementing a "members-only" area into an already established website are practically endless.
Overall, subscription-based sites:
- Increase the amount of time users spend on a website.
- Provide subscribers with unique products, services, or pieces of information that would have been otherwise inconvenient or nearly impossible to acquire alone.
- Generate substantially higher amounts of revenue compared to websites that only provide free content.
- Help foster a sense of trust, community, and loyalty between a brand and its consumers.
Creating a subscription-based website doesn't have to be a daunting chore, but it's also not as simple as snapping your fingers and expecting subscribers to hand over their money.
There are 3 key elements that need to be considered when approaching this model.
1. Member Login Options
There are several routes you can take when adding a closed off members-only area to your site.
The first option is to hire someone with programming experience to create a login system with specific PHP commands and a MySQL database to store subscribers and members. Because this can be a fairly simple task for an experienced developer or agency, it can come at a reasonable price.
The other option is to use one of the many available plugins and scripts for WordPress, Joomla, or whichever CMS the site runs on. WordPress plugins like Restrict Content Pro, WP-Members, and Membership 2 are free or affordable subscription solutions that even allow you to organize which specific pricing plans and memberships are available to which users.
2. Provide Superior Content Value
A number of studies have indicated that allowing members to have their own login access increases the amount of time they spend on a page by up to 60% while the number of pages viewed increases by 25%. That’s pretty damn impressive when you consider the fact that the average user’s attention span has been shrinking rapidly in this Internet-fueled age.
The key to holding your subscriber's attention really lies in giving significant value, either within a members-only area, through daily newsletters, an extremely informational ebook, special products or services, or just by having access to helpful information that would be painstakingly difficult for the member to find and put together themselves.
It's important to always remember that the additional content you're giving subscribers is your value proposition. In other words, the subscription should be a good deal for them. The content should be superior to the freely available content that can found across the Web.
You also need to be consistent with adding additional ongoing value. Giving subscribers a reason to stay subscribed long-term is just as important as getting them to subscribe in the first place.
3. Pricing And Subscription Plans
While some subscription-based sites have only one price and membership plan, most sites offer multiple subscription plans to diversify revenue streams and give members more options.
The pricing and subscription plans you create will largely depend on your target audience and the type of additional content you plan to provide members.
A few things to keep in mind when developing a subscription pricing plan.
- Is the price a one-time fee or recurring payment?
- If the subscription fee is recurring, is it monthly, quarterly, or yearly?
- Is the members-only content purely digital or are you using only physical goods?
- If physical goods are used, the products’ costs need to be taken into account.
Ask yourself these and similar questions to get a rough outline of how you plan to price your subscription fees. While some websites charge a large one-time fee, which is good for generating quick start-up capital, most charge smaller monthly subscription fees, which is beneficial to ensuring long-term revenue and sustainability.
Create a pricing page detailing the amount that is charged per renewal period, if there is one at all, and be very specific about what subscribers get with each subscription plan.
In addition to the considerations above, a well-design subscription site still should include all of the elements that make any kind of business website successful. Offering things like live-chat support, a mobile-friendly interface, and amazing customer service will go far, not only in obtaining new subscribers, but retaining them as your business grows.