In a few short years, paywalls have transformed from a novelty in online media to a virtual necessity.
The New York Times – which itself has one of industry’s most successful paywalls – ran an article about the international paywall phenomenon in 2013, hitting on some of the key reasons that paywalls have becoming a worldwide phenomenon. (Underscoring the international nature of the phenomenon: The story was bylined from France.)
In addition to listing the swelling number of media outlets opting for paywalls, the article quoted Douglas McCabe, an analyst at London-based Enders Analysis.
“The outlook for digital advertising for all but the very largest sites looks increasingly challenging,” McCabe said. “Therefore, it is critical that news services experiment with subscription models.”
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Define how much content shall be shown, to whom, how and when.
Use Webtrekk Analytics to find the best variant.
None of this is news to the news industry, which has for years been contending with the online migration and the challenges that come with it. While no one has yet discovered a magic formula to turn online visitors into loyal, paying subscribers, the Webtrekk Digital Intelligence Suite can help news publishers optimise their online platforms and drive their profit.
Using Webtrekk Testing, you can create A/B tests to determine the best content combinations. Should you show the headline and sub-headline of a paywalled article? What about a teaser – how much text should you show, and should it come straight from the article? And should first-time visitors see something different than past subscribers?
With the Digital Intelligence Suite, you can test conversions for your variants and quantify how each one performed. Let’s say, for example, that Variant A is set up so that new visitors can read the only the headline and sub-headline before hitting the paywall, while Variant B shows new visitors the headline, sub-headline and the first 35 words.
This level of detail is critical, especially with how allergic many readers are to paywalls, even today.
Press+, an online subscription services provider, published some of the statistics that keep publishers up at night. Citing the Press+ data, Jeff Hartley of the Morris Publishing Group writes that just 3% to 4% of unique visitors hit a paywall for the average publication. That’s low – especially when considering that just 0.5 percent of those visitors convert.
In other words, if the average site has 10,000 unique visits in a month, only 300 to 400 are reaching a paywall, and only two of them – more like 1.5 of them – are actually converting.
With Webtrekk, you can drill down into your data and know with certainty which variant works best, and optimise accordingly.
Of course, you don’t need to stop there. Maybe Variant A works best on visitors in the Politics section, while Variant B is a winner for people browsing through Sports.
Think back to the quote from above: It is critical that news services experiment with subscription models. This has never been truer than it is now. And while you conduct your experiments, Webtrekk is a good partner to have in the lab.