How can niche publishers persuade readers to pay for online content when so much is free? What are the tactics that have helped US publishers to build paid subscriptions?
Our webinar last month with Subscription Site insider drew on six case studies of niche publishers. Here’s five real-life tips that are worth trying out in your market:
1. ALWAYS COLLECT AN EMAIL ADDRESS
Don’t give away too much free content without asking for email registration. Many publishers operated a metered system, where after a user had viewed 3 or 5 pages, an overlay popped up with an email sign up form. At this stage, keep it simple, just ask for the email so you can keep in touch. A casual anonymous visitor has very little value, but once you have an email you can start to market paid subs.
2. USE YOUR ARCHIVE
Archive content from your print publication can be highly valuable. Work out how to repackage this as ebooks or by charging for access to search the archive. Ebooks with compilations of past content are also great subscription incentives.
3. DON'T BUNDLE YOUR DIGITAL CONTENT FOR FREE
Too many publishers provide free access to their online and digital editions to print subscribers. But this is storing up trouble for the future, as some might want to switch from print to digital and revenues will fall. Better to establish a price point for online subs, and then create a special rate for print subscribers to upgrade to add digital.
4. KEEP YOUR PAYWALL SIMPLE
Some paywalls simply confuse the reader with complex structures of what is free and what is paid for. Work out what really has value for your audience, and then create a separate section or tab that is clearly labeled as paid only. Consumer Reports does this very simply: its detailed reports are paid-for and the tab is marked with a padlock icon.
5. FOCUS ON EMAIL MARKETING
Social media can help build awareness, and readers expect a certain level of activity. But the experience of these US publishers is that social media isn’t yet proven to drive paid subs revenues. Boring old email marketing is just much better at converting people on a free registered list to paying subscribers. Which makes collecting email addresses from visitors even more important.
There’s more practical tips from the real-world experiences of publishers like Consumer Reports, Dow Jones, Education Week, Cabot Heritage, Foreign Affairs and RFID Journal in the recording of the webinar. You need to sign up for the Specialist Media Network – its free - and be logged in to view the recording on this link.
Minal Bopaiah is taking part in our online event on 6/7 November 2012 and sharing more tips from US publishers on success in retaining subscribers. Save the dates and watch out for more information coming soon. Register free now.
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