The complexities of converting readers into subscribers

By Aarthi Rayapura June 21, 2017

Excerpts from an article by Lucinda Southern in DigiDay

Driving direct connections with readers has become increasingly important. For publishers with subscription models, converting those readers into subscribers — like everything in digital media — has gotten more complicated.

News UK estimates people need to come into contact with the brand seven times before subscribing. Before last August, when The Times of London launched an open-access model where people can read two articles in exchange for a name and email, tracking these seven visits was harder. The Times now has approximately 1 million registered users, allowing it to more easily identify reader journeys and start to personalize them. Now, half the digital subscribers are registered users, according to the publisher.

“Before, conversion was teaser-based — which articles generated the best traffic back to your site — then you work around that buying process and improving the funnel,” said Chris Duncan, managing director at News UK, adding that now Facebook’s algorithm is tuned to keeping people on the platform, and paywall publishers can be punished in search results.

Elsewhere, a number of publishers, including The Economist and the FT, use metered paywalls to try and drive subscriptions. The Telegraph holds back about 20 percent of content for Premium subscribers. Individual business models aside, at a strategic level, subscription models focus on smaller targets of valuable readers rather than maximum reach and scale, said Douglas McCabe, CEO at Enders Analysis.

“Calculating the right service bundle for a premium digital proposition — and the balanced and flexible means of measuring, tracking and optimizing it — is a complex editorial and management judgment,” he added. “But more distribution options, more data and more content manifestations have of course made it much more complex.”

Read the full article in DigiDay

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