Small dips for long term gains
Learn why you don’t need to be afraid of the paywall in this video with Leaky Paywall’s Pete Ericson and the Paywall Project’s Tyler Channell. They will explain how a paywall actually increases the quality of your readership, the targeting of your ads, and the growth of your revenue. While instituting a paywall will initially affect your traffic, the gains in paid subscriptions and advertising opportunities will be more than worth it.
Watch the video (from our Paywall Podcast) or just catch the highlights below.
- Above all else, don’t be afraid of the paywall. Implemented correctly, it will organically grow traffic, revenue, quality, readership, advertisers, the whole package.
- The bad news: adding a paywall will, by definition reduce your website traffic and with it, some of your ad revenue. BUT:
- The good news: unless you do everything wrong, the number doesn’t have to be devastating AND the correct paywall will bring other benefits.
- A hard paywall, administered strictly, can actually kill a publication, BUT:
- A metered paywall (which allows visitors to read a set number of articles per month, before restricting access to the rest) may only impact about 5% of your site traffic, depending on how restrictive your settings are.
- A metered paywall, set up correctly, will also bring two surprising benefits:
- improved ad revenue,
- growing readership.
- Advertisers want readers, but more importantly they want quality readers. A metered paywall can bring those to the table.
- You have three types of readers:
- Your die-hard fans: they will purchase subscriptions right off the bat, with no complaint, no matter what kind of paywall you institute;
- Your one-and-dones: they found you by chance or by subject search, they’ll read the one article that interests them, and then they’re done with you;
- Casual readers (everyone else), your biggest opportunity: they’re willing to support you…it may just take them anywhere from five minutes to a year to actually do it.
- The first step to capturing casual readers is setting up a free registration.
- When they’ve read a few articles, they are stopped with an offer: continue reading this article (and maybe get a few other benefits) if you register with just your email address.
- Once you have that email address, you can start sending them your newsletter.
- The newsletter alerts them whenever you have new content. Which sends them back to your site and burns through their free article views until they’re gently nudged to upgrade to a paid subscription.
- Free registrations are a gentler start to the relationship than free trials; submitting credit card information can be a bridge too far for skittish readers.
- Real life examples of free registration success: a B2B publication that went from 0 to 10,000 email subscribers in six months; a niche publication that is seeing a 20% increase in email members, month over month.
- The newsletter is the best direct marketing tool that a publisher has. It’s a list, that you hold and you control, of your best, most interested readers.
- They’ve already jumped through the tiny hoop of submitting their email address and choosing a site password – they’re ready for more.
- Your newsletter is also of value to your local advertisers, who can place ads for and sponsor content directly to readers with proven engagement.
- Sponsorship is a new way forward for the ever-changing landscape of digital ads: humans love packaged content, newsletters are the ultimate packaged content. Sponsoring that content is a great way to get noticed.
- Get creative with what you have advertisers sponsors: sponsor your free registration level.
- Free registration also gives you valuable insight into reader behavior: what are your most popular articles with that crowd? Which article tips them into becoming a paid subscriber?
- What free registration means for your traffic numbers:
- Depending on your market and publication anywhere from 10 to 20% of your free registrants will become paid subscribers.
- On average, combined readers will visit about 1.5 articles per visit.
- Your best readers (subscribers) will visit a two or more per visit. Your weekly newsletter encourages them to visit at least weekly. If 10% of your regional populations is on your newsletter, that can end up being thousands, tens of thousands of readers visiting 2 or 3 articles every week.
- Overtime, with a paywall, you can build up a tremendous readership of quality readers, sacrificing a little poor traffic at the beginning for tremendous gains in the long run — which advertisers love, too.
- For news publishers, if you’re worried about implementing a paywall, start with a generous meter and slowly crank it down overtime. Give yourself breathing space to see it work.
- Another paywall benefit: you (and your advertisers, too!) now have the tools to target your readers by type. You can display different messages for paid, free, or casual visitors.