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Six best practices for growing reader revenue

  • 3 min to read
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Growing reader revenue has never been more important. Many of our partners have asked: "What are some fast, effective things we can do to grow digital subscriptions?" When you break it down, converting readers to paid subscribers relies on: meter, offer, and promotions.

While there are great resources out there, it's tough to know where to begin. Here are six steps to take to find what works for you.

1. Identify your meter strategy

To build a successful reader revenue stream, the majority of news media publishers will need to limit access to content with a meter that asks the user to subscribe. Some strategies include:

  • Basic meter: Five free articles per month.
  • Hard meter or hard paywall: No free views.
  • Freemium: Select content is paywalled, other content is free.
  • Registration wall: User is asked to create an account and log in.
  • Dynamic smart meter: Intelligent paywall that adjusts meter limits and offers based on user behavior.

Dynamic smart meters, such as iQ Audience+, allow you to maximize both ad and subscription revenue by offering different user journeys.

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To track the effectiveness of your meter strategy, measure your Meter Stop Rate (unique users stopped by the meter divided by total unique users). The most successful publishers stop five to ten percent of users with a paywall.

Need help? We'll work with you to determine which meter is best for your business goals. Sign up for more information.

2. Close any loopholes

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Consider placing additional content behind your paywall so more users see subscription offers:

  • Social Media referrals
  • National AP content
  • Coronavirus content

Apply a hard paywall for exclusive content such as your e-Edition. If you're an iQ Audience+ partner, you can go a step further to discourage certain behaviors like Adblockers and Private browsing with specialized messaging.

How do I do this? For iQ Audience+, all variables can be found in the Access Control application in BLOX CMS. For Subscription Pro, the primary meter settings are on the site root of the url map under Paywall.  Need a walk through? Submit a ticket at TownNews.com/Support.

3. Create aggressive introductory offers

When it comes down to the moment a reader chooses to subscribe, 45% finally convert because of an attractive offer. To grow digital subscription units quickly, create aggressive introductory offers that increase up to higher monthly rates.

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  • $1 for 3 months
  • $3 for 3 months
  • 99¢/week for the first 4 weeks
  • $1/month for 4 months

Annual and six month offers provide better retention and a higher Lifetime Value, but will not yield as many conversions. Annual rates vary widely, anywhere from $19.99 to $199 or more for one year of digital access.

Interested in a FREE design refresh for your TownNews paywall? Submit a ticket TownNews.com/Support to learn more.

4. Present offers in simple, attractive terms

Whether you're describing a special offer on a paywall, in an email, or a display ad, the following applies: present a great offer—in the simplest terms—in the most attractive way.

Adding additional taglines can make the offer look even more attractive by putting the price in perspective. For example, if you have a $49 annual offer, compared to your regular rate of $9.99 per month, you could position the offer in a number of ways.

Try this not that

How do I do this? In the BLOX CMS Admin, go to the Subscription application, click the setting icon (the cog wheel in the upper-right corner) and go to Services. Locate the active digital service. See this step-by-step doc on editing purchase rates and promos. To update the wording of the offer, edit the active digital service name and description.

Need a walkthrough? Visit our help center, or submit a ticket at TownNews.com/Support.

5. Update your paywall messaging regularly

Periodically change the message "headline" on your paywall to avoid it becoming wallpaper. Just as we wouldn't leave an ad creative the same for months, changing the offer message can spark interest.

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  • You've been selected to receive this special offer. Log in or sign up to continue reading.
  • You've read your last free article. Here's a special offer to support journalism like this.
  • We can't do it without you. Become a member and help support journalism at a special rate.

Running a special sale is also an opportunity:

  • You have run out of free stories. To continue reading, take advantage of our LOWEST offer yet!
  • We can't do it without you. Support local journalism with our BEST DEAL EVER!

How do I do this? iQ Audience+ partners: In the BLOX CMS admin, go to Access Control, click the settings icon and go to Messages. Subscription Pro partners: submit a ticket at TownNews.com/Support.

6. Highlight subscription entry points

Make sure opportunities to register or subscribe are easy to find on your website, and stand out among everything else. Highlight a Subscribe button prominently in:

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  • The main navigation of your website, preferably in a warm color.
  • Sidebars, boxes or buttons inside of articles.
  • Promotional ads in your email newsletters.
  • Subscription offers sent to your email list (make sure recipients have opted in.)
  • Display ads targeted to non subscribers.

How do I do this? Need a walkthrough or custom design work? Submit a ticket at TownNews.com/Support.

From identifying your strategy for your meter to making it easy to find the subscribe button, these quick tips will help you get the word out and increase reader revenue.

Bridget Sibthorp-Moecker is the director of audience for TownNews.

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