Today, you’re going to learn another way to grow your social media presence, fatten up your email list, rank higher in search engines, and drive more traffic to your site. How? Using a content locker plugin, that’s how!
What is a Content Locker?
Quite simply, content lockers restrict access to either some or all the content on a website, with access granted once a visitor completes a pre-determined action. So, for example, you might only give access to a particular part of your site once a visitor follows you on social media or signs up for your newsletter.
There are three main categories of content locker:
A social content locker restricts access to parts of your site until a visitor completes a particular social media interaction, such as liking or sharing something, commenting, or following.
With email list content lockers, access remains blocked until the visitor has added themselves to your email list, subscribed to your newsletter, or provided any other contact information required to unlock the content.
Here, content is hidden, with access only given once the visitor pays money. Newspaper websites commonly use this method to prevent people from reading the news for free without buying a copy.
While it is possible to lock content until any action you choose is completed by visitors, generally speaking, the above three categories are the most common.
How to Use Content Lockers
Careful thought should be given to how you will implement content lockers. You must strike a balance between providing sufficient content to generate interest while not giving too much away. Finding that balance very much depends on what you are trying to achieve by restricting access. Above all, people need to understand why you have locked the content and what benefit they receive by completing the necessary actions to unlock it.
Content lockers are great for drip-feeding content to visitors. For example, you could share part of an article with visitors, and once they have read and shared a review of it, release the next part, and so on. The secret here is to keep people in suspense and craving for more.
If you are an author or video creator, you might want to use a content locker to restrict access to a book or documentary so that it only gets seen by the right people. Unprotected content often gets plagiarized or copied without permission. Putting the content into a locker will discourage most people from doing that, while people who have a genuine interest in it will not mind jumping through the necessary hoops to access it.
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The biggest cardinal sin of content lockers is to restrict an entire site or even significant parts of it. It’s a website, not a dungeon – if people cannot see what a site is about, they aren’t going to stick around or tell their friends. Of course, there are some isolated exceptions to this, but they are few and far between.
How Do I Create a Content Locker?
Before creating a content locker, you need to consider the following:
- What content do you want to lock?
- Why do you wish to lock it?
- How and when will visitors be able to unlock it?
Once you’ve got your content locker strategy clear in your mind, you can go about implementing it. Of course, the easiest way of doing that is to use using a plugin.
We will now tell you about some of the best content or social locker plugins for your WordPress website.
Bloom is a premium email opt-in and lead generation plugin that includes content locker functionality. It can act as a social, email, or paywall locker, making it very versatile.
Bloom costs $89 per year or $249 for lifetime access. For that, you get the following features:
- Content lockers (email, social, and paywall)
- Range of customizations and configurations
- Automatic opt-in pop-ups and fly-ins
- In-line, below content, and widget area opt-In forms
- Various automatic triggers for pop-ups and fly-ins
- 19 email marketing integrations
- Pre-made templates or make your own
- Responsive (automatically adapts to desktop and mobile devices)
- Use on unlimited domains
- Updates and support
- 30-day moneyback guarantee
Furthermore, Bloom subscriptions also give access to the other plugins and themes produced by the developer, Elegant Themes, making them good value.
Impressively, OptinMonster has more than a million active downloads through the WordPress plugin directory alone. Like Bloom, it is a bundle of marketing tools designed to help grow your email subscriber lists, sales, and business. And while it is not a dedicated content locker plugin, it does allow you to create them.
OptinMonster is a premium plugin with a range of plans on offer. Unfortunately, the cheapest one does not include content lockers, so you will need to budget between $228 and $588 per year for one of the pricier options. While that may seem a lot, bear in mind that you get the following features plus plenty more:
- Content locking for conditional access
- Blur or completely hide content until opt-in
- Drag and drop builder
- Range of customization options
- Variety of campaign types such as lightbox pop-ups, sidebar and in-line forms, floating bars, countdown timers, etc.
- Library of pre-made templates
- 14-day moneyback guarantee
If you are looking for a complete suite of marketing tools that includes content lockers, OptinMonster would be an excellent option. The plugin has a user rating of 4.5/5.0 stars in the WordPress plugin directory.
While MailOptin is predominately an opt-in form and pop-up builder, it also allows you to create content lockers in its ‘Pro’ form. The content lockers can restrict access to parts or all your content until visitors have subscribed to your site.
The cheapest MailOptin plan costs $79 per year for a single site. In addition to the content locker, that plan also has the following:
- Multiple opt-in form display options (lightbox pop-up, notification bar, sidebar, etc.)
- Custom registration forms
- A/B testing
- Display effects
- Targeted display rules
- Page-level and user targeting
- Integrates with popular CRM, form, analytics, and other plugins
- 14-day moneyback guarantee
A ‘Pro’ plan is also available for $199 per year, adding automated email and newsletter features. Furthermore, a very slimmed-down ‘Lite’ version can be obtained from WordPress, although that does not include the content locker.
MailOptin has been downloaded more than 30k times from WordPress, and users have given it a juicy 4.8/5.0 stars, so it must be rather good.
Subscribe to Unlock
Subscribe to Unlock is a content locker-specific plugin available in free ‘Lite’ and paid ‘Pro’ versions. Both enable you to capture more subscribers by locking specific content until visitors opt-in. Additionally, as a security measure, it is possible to require them to verify their email address using an unlock code or a verification link.
The ‘Lite’ version of Subscribe to Unlock gives you the following key features for free:
- Hard and soft content lock
- Five pre-made subscription form templates
- Verify email by unlock code or link
- Each form component can be enabled or disabled
- Ajax form submission
- Export subscriber list (CSV)
- Backend form preview
- Mobile device friendly
- Translation ready
That’s good functionality for a freebie, right? ‘Pro’ costs just $15 and includes the following extras:
- Create unlimited forms
- 20 templates
- Pop-up page locker (with or without countdown)
- Custom form styler
- MailChimp and Constant Contact integrations
- Updates and six-months support (upgradable to one year for an additional $3.75)
Subscribe to Unlock scores a full five marks with users in both the WordPress plugin directory and Code Canyon. It’s an excellent option for adding a content locker to your website for little or no outlay.
With Leaky Paywall, you can create a metered paywall content locker. For example, you can allow visitors to read a set number of articles for free, after which the content becomes inaccessible until they pay for access. Alternatively, you can require them to provide their email address to continue to access the content. These methods are popular with many newspapers and other press websites.
Leaky Paywall is a free, open-source plugin that comes with the following great features:
- Custom paywall settings (metered, hybrid, and hard paywalls, free registrations and subscriptions, memberships, donations, and paid newsletters)
- Flexible restrictions
- Any content can be made public or restricted
- Sell subscriptions in digital, print, or premium+ forms
- Create hybrid subscriptions
- Range of integrations including PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, HubSpot, etc.
- Block Incognito mode browsing
Over 40 add-ons are available to extend functionality further. These include recurring payments, coupon codes, gift subscriptions, IP exceptions, and many more. Most of the addons are only available in a ‘PubCare’ subscription. The basic PubCare plan costs $149 per month (not per year) and includes twelve of the most popular addons, while PubCare Pro costs $299 per month and includes them all. Not cheap, but remember, you are capturing paying as opposed to non-paying visitors.
Leaky Paywall has over 1k active downloads from WordPress, where users have given it 4.3/5.0 stars.
Like Bloom and OptinMonster, Thrive Leads is a lead generation and capture plugin that includes content locker features in its toolbox. Additionally, it has several customizable templates, and you can add the content restrictions by inserting shortcodes into your posts and pages.
Thrive Leads boasts the following features:
- Content lock facility to restrict content until users subscribe
- Drag and drop editor
- Advanced targeting
- A/B testing
- Reports and analytics
- Option form templates
- Three customization levels: Show or hide certain opt-in form types, show or hide certain elements on the opt-in form, and tweak any detail with mobile responsive editing
- Support and updates
- 30-day moneyback guarantee
Thrive Leads is no longer available as a standalone plugin, and you must purchase it as part of Thrive Suite. Unfortunately, that means you also get things like builders for themes, courses, and quizzes, plus a host of other things you probably won’t need. Thankfully, the entire Thrive Suite package is not too expensive at $228 per year, and it is valid for up to 25 websites. However, we suggest that you first use the 30-day moneyback guarantee period as a kind of trial to see if the package is right for you.
Private Content is slightly different from the other plugins listed in this article in that it restricts content based on specific user roles rather than the completion of certain actions.
This is a very basic, free plugin that uses shortcodes to implement the restrictions. An example use case would be where a website owner needs to grant full access to all posts to their editors but only allow each post author to see what they have written and nothing else.
While it won’t be of use to everyone, it’s great for website owners with a team of people working in the backend. It has a 5.0/5.0 user rating and over 10k active downloads from the WordPress plugin directory.
What’s Your Favorite Content Locker WordPress Plugin?
Content lockers are a highly effective means of attracting subscribers, both paid and unpaid. Admittedly, you must think about how to implement them, but that will pay dividends once they are in action.
Do you already have a content locker plugin running on your website? If so, which one, and how has it performed for you? Also, do you have any advice for other readers on adding one to a WordPress site? Please feel free to drop a comment or two below.