To Read This, Please Give Me Your Username and Password
Publishing companies of all shapes and sizes keep trying to prosper online. While some hope for advertising to rebound, others are moving in different directions including mobile strategies, iPad apps, marketing services, custom publishing and events.
One of the biggest and more recent pushes is to take website content and force someone to provide information like an email address, username and password to access it. Anyone who has been involved in online publishing for more than a few years has seen or even tried this strategy before. It's been referred to as "gating" content, "access control" or more simply, just plain old registration.
Be careful. There's much more to implementing this strategy than just sticking up a web page form and hoping for the best. Publishers risk a drop in visits and page views, which can have a serious impact on your advertising revenue.
One of the more common and ongoing arguments regarding website registration is the perceived value of your content. In other words, is it "worth it" to give you information someone likely considers personal and private?
Beyond whether or not your website visitors think your content is worth registering for or not, they also will consider the additional benefits they would get by registering. A lot of websites use registration as a way to monitor who is allowed to comment on stories. Perhaps the other extreme that I've seen is offering registrants a version of a website without any advertising!
Before you move forward, I suggest you create a list of "member benefits." Anything from what I just mentioned to special discounts on paid products, e-mail alerts, the ability to customize a home page and more. We are building a list that already is well over a dozen ideas.
Lastly, keep in mind something that the very smart Alan Tarkowski at Gigya told me during a recent demo. On average, people have 25 online accounts, juggle six different passwords, and login up to eight times per day, all according to Paypal.
Companies like Gigya and Janrain use competing technologies known as OpenID and OAuth to assist publishers in increasing conversion of website visitors to website registrations. With the help of Gigya or Janrain (or OpenID or OAuth), your visitors can decide to use one of their existing social media website accounts to register with you.
Publishers can then append additional information to a registration or rely solely on specific data that sites like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn allow publishers to access. Their products have numerous other features and many of them are distinct to either company.