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Free or Premium? The choice-making course of for publishers in a freemium technique | What’s New in Publishing


The method for selecting whether or not an article ought to be free or blocked by a paywall in a premium subscription technique

Ought to this text be free or reserved for subscribers?

It’s a standard query for publishers launching a freemium mannequin, one of the vital in style approaches for using a subscription technique the place content material is split into free and premium.

For a metered paywall technique, the reply’s fairly effectively outlined (though this nonetheless relies on the writer’s technique)…

  • Some publishers block after a consumer has accessed a sure variety of articles
  • Others current the paywall as soon as the quota of classes is reached
  • And the Peruvian writer, El Comercio, defines metering as blocking content material 24 hours after a consumer’s first go to

Arduous paywall fashions are equally clear-cut: all content material is blocked.

  • Monetary Instances is probably essentially the most effectively acknowledged instance of this mannequin
  • While others make use of a softer model the place the exhausting paywall is preceded by a smooth conversion step, as is employed by Options Economiques who first block a consumer with a e-newsletter wall earlier than a paywall on the second article.

However, for publishers using a freemium mannequin, it’s slightly trickier. On condition that content material must fall into both free (unlocked and out there for all) or premium (blocked with a paywall and reserved for subscribers), the query comes right down to how one can greatest place an article.

There are some things to contemplate, greatest summarized by this resolution tree:

It goes with out saying that this tree must also be tailored to your particular person technique, content material and viewers.

The aim of free content material:

  • Improve engagement
  • Show the worth that you must supply
  • Encourage re-circulation
  • Promote your premium gives
  • Non-compulsory: generate leads for subscription via smooth conversion methods, together with registration and e-newsletter enroll

The aim of premium content material:

  • Encourage readers to transform, particularly with the content material above the paywall
  • Present further worth that your readers can’t get free of charge
  • Improve engagement for subscribers to keep away from churn
  • Be a product in itself

How are you going to know that you simply’re making the precise resolution between free or premium?

There’s an especially helpful KPI that we’d suggest monitoring to make sure you’re making the precise alternative…

Site visitors on paid (premium) content material.

The premise behind this indicator is easy – out of 100 articles consumed…

  • What number of are free (not blocked by a paywall)?
  • What number of are premium (blocked by a paywall)?

Notice that this metric shouldn’t be confused with the amount of premium content material produced. You might, as an illustration, make 80% of the articles revealed into premium however solely have 5% of site visitors on such a content material, particularly in case you don’t work on the visibility of those articles.

Why is site visitors on paid content material an vital KPI to trace?

The primary version of The Digital Media Overview, a examine run by Poool and GESTE, revealed a correlation (to a sure level) between site visitors within the subscription funnel/conversions and the visibility of premium content material.

If a writer has lower than 10% visibility of blocked content material on their website, they gained’t have any, or only a few, visits to their subscription web page. Nevertheless, if we transfer to 10-40% visibility of paid content material, the quantity of site visitors within the subscription tunnel and the speed of conversion will each enhance.

Notably, although, outcomes recommend that something above 40% of site visitors on premium content material results in the correlation not being legitimate, one thing that reveals the significance of different elements in a profitable conversion technique, such because the publishers worth proposition, consumer expertise or engagement.  

Though we’re focussing right here on a freemium technique, this metric is relevant and useful to any premium mannequin. For example, with metered approaches, site visitors on premium content material means that you can perceive whether or not you’ve set the optimum quota of free articles provided previous to the paywall.  

How are you going to monitor this indicator?

Unsurprisingly, step one is to determine the several types of content material in your analytics too to have the ability to evaluate the 2.

  • For Google Analytics: create a customized group and filter primarily based on free vs premium content material
  • For AT Web: use a web site indicator to do the identical factor as above
  • Monitor this indicator for normal readers in addition to for subscribers
  • We’d suggest monitoring each over time and evaluating the outcomes with you user-to-subscriber conversion charge.

You’ll find yourself with a graph trying one thing like this:

Added bonus:

How are you going to enhance the visibility of premium content material?

The idea is that you must produce extra premium content material to extend the visibility of such a content material. However this isn’t essentially the best choice.

As a substitute, you’ll be able to work on ensuring that the premium content material that you simply do produce is clearly displayed and fore-fronted in your website.

  • Place premium content material on the homepage
  • Suggest premium content material inside free articles
  • Add a ‘tag’ to premium content material to indicate that it’s reserved for subscribers, alerting the consumer to this truth earlier than they even open this web page
  • Promote premium content material in newsletters, on social media, and so forth
  • Construct customized journeys for customers accessing premium content material via a accomplice’s web site akin to information aggregator websites, similar to JDD did with upday

Madeleine White
Content material Advertising Supervisor, Poool



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