Unlocking Revenue: Why Digital Publishers Need to A/B Test Their Paywall Strategies

In today's digital landscape, publishers face increasing pressure to monetise their content while keeping their audiences engaged. One common revenue-generating strategy is through paywalls, which limit access to premium content until readers pay a subscription fee. However, implementing the right paywall strategy can be challenging, and knowing what will resonate best with readers is difficult. That's where A/B testing comes in. In this blog post, we'll explore what A/B testing is, how it works, and why digital publishers need to use it to optimise their paywall strategies.

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing, or split testing, is a technique used to compare two versions of a webpage or application to determine which one performs better. In A/B testing, two versions of the same webpage or app are created, with a tiny difference between them. These two versions are then randomly shown to different groups of users, and the results are compared to see which version performs better.

How does A/B testing work?

A/B testing involves several steps:

  1. Identify the objective: The first step in A/B testing is to identify the objective. This could be anything from increasing the number of subscriptions to reducing bounce rates. Once the objective is identified, the publisher can decide which elements of the paywall strategy to test.
  2. Create the variations: The next step is to create two or more variations of the webpage or application. Each variation should be identical except for one element that is being tested. For example, one variation might have a green "Subscribe Now" button, while the other has a red "Subscribe Now" button. Other elements that can be tested include the paywall's placement, the paywall message's length, and the content types behind the paywall.
  3. Split traffic: Traffic to the webpage or application is then randomly split between the different variations. This can be done using software such as Google Optimize or Optimizely.
  4. Collect data: As users interact with different variations, data is collected on their behaviour. This can include metrics such as bounce rates, time on site, and conversion rates.
  5. Analyse the results: Once enough data has been collected, the results are analysed to determine which variation performed better. The publisher can then use this information to optimise their paywall strategy.

Why do digital publishers need to A/B test their paywall strategies?

There are several reasons why digital publishers should A/B test their paywall strategies:

  1. Increase conversions: By A/B testing different elements of their paywall strategy, publishers can identify which elements are most effective at converting readers into paying subscribers. For example, they may find that a shorter paywall message with a clear call-to-action converts more readers into paying subscribers than a longer message with multiple calls-to-action. This can help publishers increase their conversion rates and generate more revenue.
  2. Improve user experience: A/B testing can also help publishers improve the user experience by identifying which paywall elements are causing readers to bounce or leave the site. Publishers can then modify these elements to create a more seamless and engaging experience for readers. For example, they may find that a paywall that needs to be more intrusive or difficult to navigate is turning readers away.
  3. Optimise revenue: By A/B testing different paywall strategies, publishers can identify which ones generate the most revenue. For example, they may find that offering a freemium model with a limited number of free articles followed by a hard paywall generates the most revenue. This can help publishers optimise their paywall strategy to generate the maximum revenue while keeping readers engaged.
  4. Stay competitive: In today's crowded digital landscape, publishers must optimise their paywall strategies. A/B testing allows publishers to stay ahead of the curve by identifying the most effective paywall strategies.


In conclusion, A/B testing is a valuable tool for digital publishers looking to optimise their paywall strategies. By testing different elements of their paywall strategy, publishers can identify which elements are most effective at converting readers into paying subscribers, improving the user experience, optimising revenue, and staying competitive. With the right A/B testing tools and strategies, digital publishers can create a paywall strategy that effectively monetises their content.


About Evolok

Evolok helps online publishers increase their revenues and drive audience engagement using Evolok’s end-to-end SaaS solution, which provides paywalls, subscription management, user segmentation and identity management.  Evolok delivers a selective ecosystem to drive user engagement and mobilization. Evolok helps its clients increase readership and revenue by engaging and personalizing content, protecting valuable content through paywalls, utilizing login and social data to know customers incrementally, and targeting products and pricing to boost subscriptions.

If you need any help with your subscription journey or are thinking of migrating your publishing business to the subscription business model, contact us today. 

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