You’ve done all the work: professional and attractive website, fast loading speed, and great content. But somehow, you just can’t get your visitors to actually subscribe. This is especially true for media companies, particularly newspapers.
We know this can be very frustrating, but no matter how awesome your website is and no matter how good the quality of your content is, you still cannot control your viewers’ decisions. Nevertheless, there are a few steps you can take to influence them.
First things first: why people don’t pay
While more consumers today pay for online news than ever before, the reality is that most people still don’t. Here are the most common reasons readers cited for why they don’t pay for online news:
- The same news content can be found for free elsewhere online.
- There isn’t a publication they like/trust enough to pay for access to their content.
- Subscriptions are too expensive.
Why people do pay:
The top three reasons why readers pay for online news, according to a study by The American Press Institute, are to read high quality content, fund journalism’s role in society, and support a publication’s mission. With so much free content readily available on the web, publishers have to provide a compelling value proposition that readers believe is worth paying for.
Some publications employ paywalls to encourage readers to subscribe. Typically, readers are able to read a limited sample of articles before being asked to subscribe for continued access. Readers, however, expect a mutual exchange of value when they pay for content.
Similarly, people pay for news because they receive additional perks that increase the perceived value of their subscription. This could include benefits such as an ad-free experience, exclusive content, access to a mobile app, or member-only events.
Conversion Best Practices:
Focus on messaging: publishers often take for granted certain benefits and do not promote them when showing subscription offers. For example, we’ve heard about “subscription fatigue”, and we know signing up for a new subscription can be a bit anxiety-inducing. The Wall Street Journal was able to increase subscriptions 10% by simply highlighting the ease at which subscribers could sign up and cancel.
Create a funnel: research from the Center for Media Engagement suggests we’re thinking about the conversion funnel all wrong. Perhaps the goal of the website isn’t to get people to subscribe directly, but instead to register for a newsletter. Then the newsletter has the goal of converting readers to paying subscribers.
Know your visitors: with deeper knowledge of audience preferences, the conversion to paying customer can clearly be more effective. Data provides insights into the information needs of registered audiences that should make it easier to present content that represents real value for money to them.
Demonstrate value: One of the biggest differences is that a print subscriber can pick up your publication and look at every page before they buy it, but for digital content things are tougher. The best thing to do is to allow some free metered content, and creating a niche for paid subscribers.
To conclude, publishers have to convince their audience that what they are buying is unique, useful and entertaining. Then, once a user signs up, all publishers need to do is deliver.