The Subscription Eco-system Behind a Strong Monetisation Strategy

✔ Step 1: The Drawing Board

At the initial stage, you may have a number of questions regarding monetisation. You may want to implement a subscription model but you have not decided who your provider should be or you are not sure what type of subscription package you would like to offer. Create a checklist regarding potential suppliers who can provide you and your audience the best online experience.

Review their client list.

Review your potential suppliers’ case studies.

Compare the information you are given against third party articles and revenue reports of the company’s clients to see how they have done post-implementation.

Once you have refined your software provider list down to a few companies. Try to meet their implementation and project teams to find out how flexible their offering is, as well as how their technology could benefit your business. Ask about the previous projects they have worked on as there may be a number of features which may not be immediately visible but may just be what you want for your corporate strategy.

At Evolokfor example, we take pride in providing solutions which integrate with a wide range of different technologies. Being technologically agnostic helps our clients save time and money, as well as opening up doors for integration with a variety of other CMS, analytics, social and CRM platforms.

Once you have decided which company best understands your company ethos and project requirements, you can go to the second step.

✔ Step 2: The Decision Making – what type of model to implement?

This is the moment when you decide what subscription model best fits your publication.

Deciding this requires detailed in-depth analysis of your offering and your audience.

Michael Rushton, an Economics Professor at Indiana University and an expert in the art of pricing, talks at length about two distinct monetisation strategies publishers can adopt: subscriptions or advertising.

Rather than an exclusive “either/or” tactic, why not consider a third option? Why not keep ad revenue and the subscription model by opting for a metered model?

At Evolok, we always start with a Discovery Phase when working with our clients. Together with them, we analyse and understand their customers based on our demographic research and behavioural statistics.

This process has been refined from our work in implementing metered, porous subscriptions for a wide range of clients, from Europe, North America, Africa and South America. Due to our experience, we know the importance of choosing the right solution for each of our clients.

Once you have defined why and how your subscription model should work and how porous it should be, you can define targets on your subscriptions’s requirements and audience engagement.

What is the impact of a metered model ?

  • It allows you to increase revenues in two different ways: through ads and subscriptions.
  • It’s more friendly to your occasional readers who would like to experience your brand before becoming a subscriber
  • Depending on the administration console, it may be easier to adjust according to the particular needs of the publication. It is easier to offer a different paid for experience, compared to your competitors, all based on variables such as the metering limit and which articles are put behind the meter.

 ✔ Step 3: Testing the Waters: how to manage your audience’s expectations

Introduce your readers to the paid for environment step by step. Write about paywall initiatives of other newspapers, start forums and discussion points to see what your audience think. This can also help you understand which type of content/experience your audience are more likely to pay for.

The testing phase can also help define your future monetisation initiatives. How many articles would you like to give for free in the first months? Would 20 be a good starting number before a user hits the paywall? Is a high degree of porosity going to bring you more readers? How many of your current articles are shared on social media networks? Are your journalists actively engaging in meaningful conversations with your audience?

Testing the waters and receiving feedback is one of the best ways to refine your future strategy. The New York Times newspaper dipped their toes in the waters before plunging themselves into the paywall ocean.

Test, test, test, Tim Griggs, Executive Director, Cross-Platform Monetisation at The New York Times said  even the things you think are a given.

Gannett has also adopted a culture of product testing prior to launches and new initiatives.

Everything we’re doing, we’re doing in a testing context, Gannett Digital News Chief, Maribel Perez Wadsworth, said. We never launch just one offer without trying a second to be able to compare.

✔ Step 4: Implementation: getting the project off the ground

Once you have a better understanding of your online brand positioning you can start implementing the paywall.

I would personally advise you to work with a company with vast experience in software/web development and implementation. This will make the transition from freemium to premium content easier for you. If you want to move positions from 20 free articles per month to 10, migrate archived content, or try various flexible paywall solutions then it would be wise to invest in a software company which can promise you flexibility. In the long run, it will save you both time and money.

✔ Step 5: Customer Feedback and Refinement: tweaking the subscription model to make it your own

Every business should keep their customers firmly in mind when implementing a monetisation strategy. Your customers are central to the decisions made before, during, and after implementing a paywall/meter.

How much you care about your customers is reflected in your brand and results in increased revenue. The more personalised an experience you offer, the happier your customers will be, and the more likely they are to share their experience with others.

Regarding the impact of paywalls on customers, Reuters’ Blogging Editor, Felix Salmon stated that most of the current paywalls are too inflexible, imposing a number of options on visitors regardless of what the visitor wants or how the visitor behaves and that few publishers have a deep understanding of their users behaviour. 

Due to Evolok’s project experience, we understand the core role of the customer within a monetisation strategy. This is why we have created Access and Identity Management, User Profiling, Social Sign on and Single Sign On options. These features not only make your customers online journey much faster and easier, but it also gives you deep, granular information about their online behaviour once on your website.

What does this mean?

  • It allows you to make strategic decisions based on facts and statistics even after the Discovery Phase, as you get to learn more about your customers both individually and as a demographic, even after implementing the paywall
  • You get to know the layers of your audience and their behaviour: at what moment they decide to register on your website, when they decide to subscribe, to become customers, what they share and when they decide to leave your platform
  • Your marketing team can design more personalised, more targeted user experiences
  • Customers have a better experience, receive better advertising and more relevant content
  • You spend less time and money on helpdesk support due to efficient user self service.

Stay tuned to Evolok; a breakdown of the next steps will follow in Part 2.

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