Managing Membership Content with a CMS within a CMS

While it may be some time since Bill Gates published his 'Content is King' essay (in fact, it was 1996!), the concept still remains as relevant today as ever.

So what has changed? Well, the way you offer your content to your audience may need a decidedly 2020s update.

Exclusive membership or library content – the kind that requires a customer to exchange their details not just for one piece of content but an entire range of regularly updated resources – is an excellent way to encourage visitors to become leads, providing them with useful, timely help before they spend a penny with your company.

A CMS, such as HubSpot, is key in helping you create and manage your membership content. In this post, we'll show you how to maximise your content using this model, and show you just how we helped one of our customers achieve incredible results by building a CMS within a CMS.

What is a CMS? 

A CMS, or content management system, is a software application that you can use to create your website content including copy, images and video, without having to create the platform or infrastructure yourself. Already know all of this? Skip to how we build a CMS within a CMS case study.

A CMS enables non-web developers to create and manage their own websites via a user-friendly interface that requires no coding knowledge. A CMS may be out-of-the-box, custom or a combination of the two, such as a ready-made CMS with complex integrations, APIs or modifications. 

Common content management systems include:

  • HubSpot 
  • WordPress
  • Wix
  • Shopify 
  • Squarespace

Why is a CMS useful? 

The benefits of a CMS include: 

  • Quick website deployments
  • No need for expert help from expensive developers
  • Easy editing of content
  • Templates and pre-configured themes mean styling is easy
  • SEO: many CMSs offer inbuilt SEO functionality 
  • Automatic software and security updates 
  • Easy collaboration across teams 
  • Scalability 

HubSpot CMS

The HubSpot CMS in particular is an incredibly powerful tool. With it, you can create pretty much any type of website content you can think of, from whole websites to individually-styled landing pages, pillar pages and interactive content. But what about membership content? 

What is membership content?  

Membership content can be found on websites where there is plenty of content to download and start making use of. A visitor has to log in with a username and password in order to access exclusive articles, information and other resources. 

Any business with plenty to say, and a host of helpful resources, can make use of a membership library. Any business which deals with sensitive information can carefully monitor who does and doesn't have access to a content library, for example, an educational institution.

The same can be said for ‘paid for’ services that offer exclusive content: it makes sense to host that information somewhere private where serious, engaged users can access it, but it isn't freely available to the entire internet. 

SpotDev's ‘CMS within a CMS’ Case Study 

Recently, one of our educational clients came to us asking to add membership content to their school website. It sounded like a straightforward project, until we realised that their HubSpot subscription was only at the Professional level, while membership content is an Enterprise-only feature. There's a big gap between Professional and Enterprise... a £23,628 per year gap. 

There's a very good reason for that price difference: HubSpot Marketing Enterprise is an immensely complex suite of tools that is an investment that will easily pay for itself. But £23,628 is a lot to pay for just a membership area on a educational provider's website.  

So, we did what we always do... we asked questions. 'Why do you need membership content?' 

As the development team explored the details, two key facts became obvious:

  • The client didn't need a unique username and password for their users (a shared password with no username would be perfect). 
  • They didn't need to change the content of the membership site based on the user's data or behaviour.

This meant their use case was pretty elementary. 

So, the SpotDev team came up with a plan to leverage HubSpot's existing password-protected content features - available in the CMS or Marketing Hub Professional. The only challenge was that we needed multiple pages. It would be frustrating for the user to enter their password every time they went to a new page. 

We realised we would need to create a 'CMS within a CMS'. Essentially, an entire website powered by a single page in HubSpot. 

To do so, we created a custom module with a repeater that allowed us to add as much content as we wanted. Each repeater included a title, a body section and a space to indicate the 'top level navigation'. In essence, each repeater provided a new 'page' of our membership site. 

We then set every single page to be hidden as it loaded, except for a default title and body section. The entire site's content was available but the visitor wouldn't be able to see any of it. 

The next trick came from adding JavaScript actions to the page's navigation bar. Whenever the user clicked a menu item on the navbar, the currently shown page was hidden and the new page was set to show. 

And that was it. An entire CMS within a single page. All we had to do was password protect it and hit 'publish'. 

The users (parents and carers) were able to get their key information, and the educational provider avoided having to upgrade to Marketing Hub Enterprise. It was a win for everyone!

Interested in a similar CMS set up for your membership content? Get in touch with our development team to get started


Our content includes affiliate links. This means that we may receive a commission if you make a purchase through one of the links on our website. This will be at no cost to you and helps to fund the content creation work on our website.