Don’t Just Slap Up a Paywall. First, Define Your Digital Value Proposition.

Don’t leave $$$ on the table! CEO Rob Ristagno shares his insights on defining your Digital Value Proposition.

Research shows content creators leave over a billion dollars per year on the table by not offering digital membership programs. These membership programs include access to premium content and, potentially, other products, services, and benefits. The challenge is: you can’t just put up a paywall and hope customers will pay for your gated content.

You need to thoughtfully develop a value proposition for your digital membership program.

ConversionXL, a digital consultancy, explains, “value proposition is the #1 thing that determines whether people will bother reading more about your product or hit the back button.”

I concur. I’ve experienced at least double digit growth when I’ve worked with brands to refine their value proposition and how it is communicated.

Three Parts to a Digital Membership Value Proposition

A value proposition must describe:

  • Who your target customer is
  • What problem you solve for them
  • An overview of how the digital membership will satisfy these needs

A good example of a clear and compelling value proposition can be found at

“Learn a New Skill Online, on Your Time. Business, Creative and Technology skills.”

Who: Busy professionals

What: Enhance business, creative, or technical skills in a flexible manner (note the phrase “on your time”).

How: At the top of the page, clearly states the “how” – the number and types of courses (1,156 Business courses, 2,475 Creative courses, and 1,450 Technology courses) along with some specific course topics (e.g., Leadership, Marketing, Project Management).

 How to Write Your Value Proposition

Talk to and survey your most loyal customers and promising prospects to determine what problems are not effectively addressed by anyone in the market. Maybe it’s curation, or advanced techniques, or customizable solutions, or access to exclusive research or customer lists, or bundling with physical products, services, or events? Listen to your audience! This article goes into more detail about how to survey your audience to develop a value proposition for a digital membership.

Ensure your value proposition clearly states who you are talking to, what problems your digital membership solves for them, and how key features and benefits of the membership accomplish this.

Ask colleagues (and friends outside of your business) to critique your drafts.

Test your value proposition

Once you think you have something that works, test it in the “real world.” Conduct A/B split tests until you find a value proposition that maximizes your conversions and engagement (email sign up, time on site, free trial enrollment, purchase of membership). Re-visit your value proposition every six months to make sure it stays fresh.

Need help with your value proposition? Email me your existing value proposition, and I’m happy to share my thoughts.



Rob Ristagno is the CEO and Founder of The Sterling Woods Group, a firm that builds new revenue streams for media companies and publishers. He is an expert in direct monetization of content. Prior to creating The Sterling Woods Group, Rob served as a senior executive for several niche media and e-commerce companies. He most recently was the Chief Operating Officer of America’s Test Kitchen, considered to be the gold standard in the niche media world for building diversified – and often digital – revenue streams.


Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. Next up? The Niche Digital Conference in Denver, Sept. 19-21. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments! Plus, Carl Landau – Niche Media’s Grand Poobah – is launching the all new Super Niche Event, March 27-29, 2017. Check it out!

– Web:
– Blog:  Niche Media HQ
– Twitter: @NicheMediaHQ
– Facebook: NicheMediaHQ
– LinkedIn: Niche Media Inc & Niche Media Network
– YouTube: NicheMediaHQ
– Google+: +NicheMediaHQ