By now, you know that paywalls are starting to gain traction and for some publishers, they play a key role in reclaiming revenue lost to the decline of traditional ad models.
It’s no longer a question of whether or not the paywall should be part of your revenue strategy but more a question of what type of paywall works for you.
It’s important to remember that your digital transformation is not one-dimensional. But it’s equally important to remember that each component of your strategy has its own set of requirements. You can be sure that a paywall alone does not make a revenue strategy—refer back to the 5 additional ways to make more money we’ve discussed. But, you do want every part of your revenue strategy to fulfill it’s greatest potential.
So, when we are talking strictly about paywalls, what works?
1) The Metered Approach: You want to give people the opportunity to discover and sample your content before asking them to pay for it. Think grocery store sample days: would you have bought that extra sharp cheddar from the cheese house you never heard of before if you hadn’t savored that tasty morsel presented on a toothpick by your local grocer’s friendly sample girl or guy?
Of course, there are several versions of the metered approach and your version should reflect the needs of your audience. Which leads to . . .
2) Targeted Paywalls: Yes, context awareness applies to your paywall, too. Analyze your users’ activities, target those who demonstrate authentic and invested consumption of your content AND reward them with versions of a paywall that suit their preferences and show appreciation for their commitment to you.
3) Paywall Perks: Don’t limit your paywall to content. Provide additional products/perks through paywall arrangements—not only to integrate your paywall with your additional revenue strategies, but also to provide incentive for users to embrace it.
4) Diversified Options: When you spend time on context awareness, it becomes clear that your audience has a diversity of preferences when it comes to their reading habits. Some want a subscription. Some just want to pay per article. Others want something in between. Present them with options and you are likely to glean more paying readers.
5) Multi-channel Delivery: We’ve talked about this for your overall content strategy—and it’s equally relevant for the paywall portion of your strategy. Make sure your readers can get the content they want, when they want it, where they want it and they will be willing to pay for it.
But it’s not just about logistics . . .
It’s easy to get caught up in the characteristics of the ideal paywall and overlook methods for supporting it. Rob O'Regan makes a compelling argument for giving your attention to paywall support in addition to logistics.
Specifically, he suggests that the use of paywalls requires more diligence in two arenas:
Marketing: Apply context awareness in the scope of lead nurturing.
Customer Service: Put simply, make it easy for your online customers to manage their accounts and preferences online. Also, provide the level of service that digital customers have come to expect—meaning traditional print approaches to customer service aren’t typically adequate for the digital audience.
Consider your paywall or your potential paywall strategy in the context of these characteristics and your paywall will be be well on its way to better than snuff.