locked gate

How to Set Up Content Locking in WordPress

Using content lockers is an effective way of growing your email list or website subscribers. This technique can also help you attract qualified leads to your business. Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t include content lockers in the core platform.

The good news is that there are WordPress plugins you can use to add this feature. Adding this functionality might be easier than you expect. Then, you’ll be able to use it to grow your audience and improve engagement with your content.

In this article, we’ll look at what content locking is and the benefits it has to offer. We’ll then detail how to add this functionality to your WordPress website. Let’s get started!

What Is Content Locking?

Many website owners use content locking to block access to certain content. They force users to complete an action in order to access specific pages, articles, or sections of the website:

Content lock on New York Times website

Content lockers can be useful, but need to be applied carefully. Indiscriminate use of this technique can annoy your users, and could lead to lower user engagement.

Ideally, you should use content lockers for highly-valuable content that goes beyond your site’s normal offerings. This includes ebook downloads, online courses, and content upgrades. This enables visitors to access your regular content without trouble, but also encourages them to see what else you have to offer.

What Are the Benefits of Content Locking?

Content lockers are popular for many WordPress users, because of the benefits they provide. The primary advantage is that they enable you to grow your email subscriptions. Locking away tempting content requires users to opt into your email list before they get to see it. 

Another potential benefit is the ability to attract more high-quality leads. Limiting who has access to your content ensures that only those legitimately interested in your products and services take that extra step, moving them towards becoming leads and ultimately conversions.

You may also find that content lockers provide key upsell potential. Based on the content users choose to unlock, you can determine what other offers to send them. This can increase your revenue, as you’ll be sending out more relevant marketing messages. 

How to Add Content Locking in WordPress

Since WordPress does not have content locking as a core functionality, you’ll need to use a plugin to add it. There are several options you can consider, based on the actions you want users to take.

If you want to grow your email list, for example, two strong options include OnePress Opt-In Panda and OptinMonster. We’ll use the former as an example, to show you how the process of adding content locking in WordPress works.

Step 1: Install the OnePress Opt-In Panda Plugin

The first step is to install your chosen plugin. As we mentioned above, we’ll be using OnePress Opt-In Panda as our example.

To install the plugin, go to Plugins > Add New in your WordPress dashboard and search for it. Click on Install and then Activate, and the plugin will be ready to go.

Step 2: Connect Your Email Marketing Provider

After activating the plugin, go to OnePress Opt-In Panda > Global Settings. In the Subscription Options tab, use the drop-down menu to select your email marketing provider:

Subscription Options tab under  Global Settings for OnePress Opt-In Panda

After choosing your provider, you’ll need to provide your unique API key. If you’re not sure where to find that, you’ll want to check the documentation for your email marketing platform.

If you do not have an existing email marketing platform, you can select None instead. This will save your email list in your WordPress database. 

Step 3: Create Your Content Locker

To start creating your content locker, go to OnePress Opt-In Panda > +New Locker. Click on Create Item to create a new locker:

Create item in OnePress Opt-In Panda

When creating your locker, provide a title that is for your use only. The other fields here have default wording that you can update. You can also choose a theme for the locker, and select an Overlap Mode. This affects the appearance of your locker and the content it restricts. 

Below the content locker form is a preview screen. This helps you visualize the locker and ensure that it matches the rest of your website. There is also a Subscription Options section:

In this section, you can choose a single or double opt-in system. You also determine the fields users will have to complete in order to unlock your content. 

Step 4: Attach the Locker to Your Content

Before you publish your content locker, you have the option to set up ‘batch locking’. This feature is located below the Publish button:

Attach content locker to content

This enables you to lock most or all of your content at once, saving you some time. If you choose to batch lock your content, click on Setup Batch Lock. On the next screen, enter the number of free paragraphs of content you want to provide.

If you want to exclude any posts or categories from the batch locking, enter their codes or names into the correct fields. When you are happy with your settings, click on Save and publish your locker. 

If you do not want to batch lock, you can skip the above step and simply publish the locker. Then, copy the Manual Locking shortcode the plugin generates. This code will have to be manually added to the posts and pages you want to lock. 

To do this, navigate to a post or page. Scroll down to the point where you want the locker to appear. It’s often a good idea to place this after one or two paragraphs, so readers get a small taste of what the content has to offer.

Add a Shortcode block after the last paragraph you want everyone to see. Then, paste the content locker shortcode into that block:

content locker shortcode

Click on Update to save your changes to the post. Your content should now have a locker on it, which you can verify by viewing it on the front end. 

Best Content Locker Plugins for WordPress

Choosing the right content locker solution can be challenging. There are some plugins that are limited to email opt-ins, while others focus on social interactions. If you are unsure which to choose, you might want to consider the following four options.

1. OptinMonster

Optinmonster

OptinMonster is a premium plugin that does a lot more than locking your content. You can use this plugin to create email opt-in popups or content lockers. The content locking feature is fairly new, and is limited to email opt-ins only. 

To take advantage of this feature, you’ll need to have a Plus account or higher. The license included in those plans covers content locking, opt-in forms, split testing, and much more. This plugin is a good solution for website owners looking for maximum value for their money. 

2. OnePress Opt-In Panda

OnePress Optin-in Panda

OnePress Opt-In Panda is a freemium plugin offering content locking for free. To unlock your content, users will need to sign up to your email list. To get further options such as content blurring and countdown timers, you’ll need to purchase the premium version. 

One of the benefits of this plugin is its compatibility with various email marketing providers. All major providers work with this plugin via an API key. The plugin is also easy to use, and comes with clear documentation.

3. ThriveLeads

Thriveleads

Thrive Leads is another premium plugin that has a lot to offer. This plugin also works with various email marketing providers to grow your list.

The primary benefit of Thrive Leads is the visually-stunning content lockers you can create. This plugin also offers other features, including split testing, analytics, and precise targeting. With these options, you can ensure that you always show the right opt-in at the right time. 

4. OnePress Social Locker

OnePress Social Locker

Another free plugin you can use is OnePress Social Locker. This plugin helps you grow your social media following instead of expanding your email list. The content lockers it generates force users to complete a social interaction to unlock them. 

OnePress Social Locker is easy to use, and you can add shortcodes to the content you want to lock. All you need to provide are your social media URLs, and the plugin does the rest. 

Explore WP Engine’s Developer Resources

Content locking can help you boost your email list or social media following. While WordPress does not have this feature built into the core software, you can use plugins to add it. Tools such as OptinMonster and OnePress Social Locker force users to complete the actions you want before accessing all of your content.

While locking your content can boost your business, you still need to provide a quality digital experience. At WP Engine, we’re dedicated to helping you do just that. Check out our plans today!

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