Websites are made to be publicly accessible by everyone, however there are some times when a company or organisation needs to protect a certain part of the available content and restrict access to specific people, the “members” of the website. This is done by using a members area.

A members area is a website or part of a website that provides privacy to the offered content. Your online banking account is essentially such an area, where access is restricted and content is offered only to authorised users. Another example is an account that you may have in a training website which you use to access training videos and information.

A members area is protected by a login page and all the protected pages are only accessible by registered users. Any effort to access these pages without the login will fail and hence this keeps the content restricted to the general public.

A members area can be used by businesses, organisations or individuals to increase revenue by offering a service using the protected pages. For example, if a business sells some kind of technology hardware products, then they can use a private space to offer training courses on their products (video clips, documents etc.). Access is restricted to paying members only and the business can benefit by receiving multiple subscriptions for the same content.

A web design business can sell templates, scripts or other digital content to their customers. A medicine – related business could sell subscriptions with informational content to doctors or other medical staff.

The above examples are directly using restricted pages to sell services to existing or new customers. There are also other ways in which you can use a private area indirectly.

Here is an example of indirect use of the members area for profit. Let’s assume that there is a business that sells software applications. They created a private space for members but they offer it for free to all new or existing customers.

The members area is packed with information about the software products, tips and tricks, add-ons and other material that is not in the public site. This is to make sure that the registered users are getting valuable content. In addition, the area includes support request options, registration of the software, easy upgrade instructions and file downloads. But where is the benefit here?

This business is indirectly benefiting from a members area. The first benefit is that all users have registered and therefore the business receives their details and email addresses. This sets the base for email campaigns and easy access to all the customers.

The customers are also frequently accessing the members area to enjoy the benefits such as newer versions, downloads, informational and training content, tips and tricks and hence they keep their engagement with the brand, making them likely customers for upgrades and advocates of the brand to others.

The business has a way to reach their audience by announcements via email or in the members area, adding to the potential of new upgrades and add-on or extra services purchases. Special offers and bundles can easily be announced to all members.

In addition to all this, the members feel as part of a community and feel that the software business has a professional way of keeping in touch instead of just simple manual emails.

Another example is when a business has resellers and there is a frequent need for sending confidential price lists.

Emailing the price lists is a manual process which takes time, especially as the number of recipients increases, which means that you may have to send more than one emails, due to restrictions in the recipients number by all email systems. In addition, some people may contact you with requests such as “I did not receive it, can you resend” or requesting the price list earlier, only adding permanent admin work to your busy schedule.

A members area would give you the opportunity to offer self-service to your partners, who would then be able to download the price lists at their own convenience without engaging with you directly. You would only have to upload the price list just once to the members area system. Then, it is available to the members. The members area would also add a level of professionalism to your brand.

There are many other examples and cases where a members area would be very useful and would add to a business’s profit:

Subscriptions for training videos and material.

Informational content for communities, organisations and institutions.

Customer order history and easy order placement by having a permanent member record.

Customer VIP members that receive extra services / discounts by annual subscription.

Confidential information and documents exchange between collaborators.

Whichever your business is, it is likely that you may benefit by providing a members area to your customers and increase your income.

Next, I will be talking about the main features that a members area should have in a subsequent article.

Dionissis Zervas