In 2019, we seemed to pass the tipping point of the pivot to direct audience revenue. The strategy has been validated, we now know that readers are willing to pay for top quality content, and that asking them for direct financial support is a viable revenue strategy.
What is working for publishers right now when it comes to growing subscription revenue?
Writing in Whats New In Publishing, Carolyn Morgan broke down the key factors.
Here are 9 of her best tips!
Bundling digital access together with print, archive access, podcasts, newsletters, events and other offers seems to work really well. Get creative with how you can deliver maximum value to subscribers.
Show non-subscribers what they’re missing
The more aware they are of the benefits they’d get from subscription the better. Find a way of showing them what articles are locked. Le Monde grew their subscriptions by 20% with this tactic, and believe that the ideal ratio is 63% free/ 37% paywalled.
Test, test, test
Audience members will respond to offers in different ways. Test everything you can and tweak your offers and conversion funnels based on the data. Test ideal price points, different CTAs, number of free articles and anything else you think can give insight.
Understand what content drives conversions
What articles and pieces of content are more likely to persuade readers to subscribe? All content is usually not equal in this regard – uniquely valuable or impressive pieces are more likely to have an impact.
Consider flexible and personalised paywalls
Wall Street Journal and other big players have implemented personalized paywalls that algorithmically work out a readers’s “propensity to subscribe” and adjust the number of free articles and other factors accordingly. If you have the resources this is an avenue to consider.
Consider enterprise subscriptions
If you’re a B2B publisher (and even if you aren’t), this can be an interesting avenue. Think about if there are any particular organisations where multiple staff members either have or would be interested in having a subscription.
Create a Membership package
Community and connecting with interesting and like minded people is something that everyone craves. Many publishers are trying to create networks within their own audience, connecting them online or at events. An example is how Tortoise Media bring together readers at their “think in” events across the UK.
Add valuable services
What tools or unique research could you add to your premium offering to make it even more valuable to subscribers?
Smooth on boarding and retention are crucial if you really want to make audience revenue work.
See the LA Times as an example of how not to do it – and see the Economist for the right way. They put 70% of their marketing resources into retention of their 350,000 subscribers, because they know it pays off.
With these in mind, you’re ready to start building a detailed subscription strategy.
Check out the original article for more depth and some important considerations for publishers moving from free to paid content. You can also take a look at our interviews with Mary Walter-Brow and Emily Goligoski for some deep dives into subscription and membership strategy.