If you’re used to email marketing, then you’ll probably be very used to the idea of “List Segmentation”. This article looks at how you can use the same idea in a Membership area.

For newbies: segmentation is simply a way of separating out your “paying” customers from your “free” ones. This then gives you an idea of who’s more likely to “buy” your product – customers who’ve purchased have parted with their cash, made a connection and so trust you a little more.

Okay… enough of the basics. Let me ask you something:

If you have a membership plugin like WishList Member or WP eMember, then wouldn’t it be cool if you could have very specific targetted messages to your users? This article discusses how this could be achieved… the irony is, it’s currently NOT being implemented! That’s right, you IM Guru’s have missed a trick!

Before I talk tech – let me start at the beginning and explain how this has all come up to provide some background. You’ll then see what I’m trying to implement and why. The last few days I’ve been checking out 2 Membership plugins. I’ll give you a bit of review on each as I go along.

WP eMember

I’ve recently been spending more time over at my new site “Think & Grow Rich eBook” – I only recently discovered it’s got massive traffic and I’ve been neglecting it. DOH! So, I’m in the process of revamping it and putting a Members Area into it. I’ve been using the Tips & Tricks HQ’s “WP eMember” plugin.

During the process (I’m still doing it), I thought: “It would be so cool if I could add a Member Only message WITHOUT these ugly “Members Only” messages appearing.

Apparently, it’s an idea that a lot of people have – messages aimed at specific membership levels ONLY. After all, it seems a reasonable request – something that you think would be already in the specification – it’s essentially Member Segmentation Marketing. I’ve just coined that phrase, btw… please feel free to use it. ;)

Like I say, at the time, I was using the really cool WP eMember plugin. I like this as it’s low cost and the Developer (Amin) is an absolute star. He actually engages in the forum and does support work within a few days. As much as I love the plugins he builds, I still think his pricing is way TOO low. He could probably double what he currently does and then hire more people to help him out. From experience, that’s the lesson I’ve learnt (but then I can say that, as I used to build the FAQ-Tastic plugin and that’s exactly the mistake I made!).

I digress… Anyway, I check the documentation and guess what? There is a “Protect with Message” shortcode but NO specific shortcode just to display messages to members. Hmm… nuts.

So, I drop him a message in the forum. Actually, I send over quite a few emails with feature requests. I think I basically bombarded the guy with technically questions, issues and suggestions! He writes back that “[he] doesn’t have the time to process these. You maybe better off with WishList member plugin”. Essentially, because of the serious workload that he has he can’t implement some of the things I’ve requested or suggested. So he offers me a full refund on the plugin!

Before you think this is a negative thing. I’d like to say, “Hat’s off. Well done” for his honesty. I appreciate that… AND he’s recommended I check out his competition. What a great guy. Not only did he offer me a full 100% refund but also gives me an alternative to check out. Nice. Now I consider that real service. If you’re on a budget and want a Membership plugin and have minimal requirements, then I’d suggest you check out the Tip’s and Tricks WP eMember plugin. Great value service… but don’t expect much in terms of returns if you’re signing up as an affiliate – I am one and I would love it if Amin doubled the price of his plugin! Heh…

WishList Member

So… I head over and check out the WishList Member plugin. I’ve used it before, in the past (about a year and a half ago). Seems like I missed out on quite a bit since I was gone. When I looked at the latest 2.6 verison, I was pretty blown away. WishList have really taken this plugin to another level and even have this new “Getting Started Wizard” feature. Very snazzy and cool. I like this.

So anyway, I dig out my old WishList licence and OMG… I actually have a Multi-Site Licence. I must’ve been forward planning… I hadn’t realised that – I thought I had the single licence version. DOH!

Anyway, I install it and start to play.

Guess what? Yup… again, NO “hidden” user specific message shortcode. WTF?

So, I’m on the message boards again – this time yesterday, I’m writing and essentially, people like this idea. Why isn’t it being implemented? Well, in terms of WishList, their implementation of the [private] shortcode is a little lacking. It’s not quite being used in (what I’d call) the “correct” way. To use the shortcode you would use: [private_free level] <- note the space. So you can’t use “Shortcode Attributes” properly in WishList Member. If they fix this, then this plugin would be a mind blower!

If you’re wondering here’s how these “Hidden Shortcodes” could be used:

Member Segmentation Marketing scenarios

Here’s a quick summary of the type of “Hidden” shortcodes I would create to implement in my members area. Look carefully and think about the implications and how it could completely change your Membership Marketing strategy.

Shortcode Attribute Suggestions

[protect level="Free one"] Default. This does as it does now – shows a message to NON-Members with a “Content Protected” box.  [/protect]

[protect level="Basic Member" only="1"] Messages are displayed ONLY for this level. [/protect]

[protect level="Premium Subscriber" link="http://somelocation.com/"] @Andy’s suggestion (see WishList forum – reference at the end) of having an alternate link override. Entire text becomes a link to the URL set in the attribute. This could be useful for redirecting to a different location (like an upgrade page). [/protect]

[protect level="Platinum User" class="myCssClass"] Used to add a class to the membership text container <div> [/protect]

[protect level="Platinum User" id="myCssID"] Used to add a unique ID to the membership text container <div> [/protect]

[protect level="Platinum User" dateShow="2011-07-10"] Date of when the message should start being displayed – for those time sensitive offer messages [/protect]

[protect level="Platinum User" dateHide="2011-07-11"] Date of when the message should end – for those time sensitive offer messages [/protect]

[protect level=”Platinum User” dateRange=”2011-07-10 | 2011-07-20“] Date range of when the message should be displayed – for those time sensitive offer messages [/protect]

Note: A “timeShow”, “timeHidewould also be useful if the offer is time sensitve. It would use the WP Date/Time system settings, so Admins would need to calculate the timezone of the offer (e.g. GMT, PST etc.).

Major Benefits to WordPress Admins

The major benefits for Admins are:

You only have to create 1 page with a few of these shortcode messages, rather than 3 pages to have different messages for each level.

  1. This reduces the amount of pages in the database (over time, this can get huge if you’re basically creating the same page with only a few word changes!).
  2. Producing only 1 page means time saved (WordPress can take a while to save on a big site).
  3. Less pages with the same name (less confusing)
  4. In terms of SEO, I’m not sure that having 3 of the same pages with only a few words different wouldn’t have an impact and be seen as “duplicate content”. No idea… but it’s something to consider.

You get the picture of what these “Hidden member shortcodes can do”.

I Need Your Help

If you like this idea of how you can segment and do “Timed” offers, specific to your WordPress Member, then please do me a favour – if you have either WishList Member or WP eMember then please weigh in on their respective forum threads:

Update As I Write This: I’ve just checked. Amin has already stared the ball rolling and implemented the “Hidden” shortcode. See his forum post.

THE RACE IS ON! WHO’S GOING TO GET THIS WORKING? :)

Anyway… that’s about it from me.

My work here is done.

…it’s only just started on my other site. I just wish someone would implement these features into their plugin!