How should my association segment our member-only areas?

Member-only areas of association web sites increasingly contain compelling, wonderful tools and resources that are true member benefits. Given their highly desired content, one might wonder whether – and how much of – that content should be exposed to non-members. There are essentially four different philosophies:

1) Expose nothing specific. Instead, summarize the content in the list of member benefits or as inpidual items sprinkled throughout the web site.

2) Expose a very small amount, but limit its usefulness. An example would be job listings without any contact information.

3) Give away some useful data/tool but not all of it. In the case of job listings, this might translate to letting non-members see two or three listings.

4) Give them all of it, but then take it away. In keeping with the above examples, this might include a trial period of seeing job listings, or allowing a resume to be posted for only a limited time.

Most associations tend to utilize option 1 or 2, but there are some associations toying with options 3 or 4. If you information is obviously compelling, option 1 or 2 may do the trick. But if you need to prove the usefulness of your information or tools, options 3 or 4 might serve as effective “sampling” mechanisms. The low cost of delivery could make these more robust options attractive. In any case, a test may reveal the correct answer for your association.

Have you already determined the correct mix of exposing member-only benefits for your association? What has worked well in your case?

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