Convert Metered Paywall Visitors into Subscribers


In the words of David Ogilvy, “a good advertisement is one that sells the product without drawing attention to itself.” When selling a web magazine, one of the best ways to do so is by giving away enough content that it sells itself, but not so much that visitors don’t convert into subscribers.

The most significant benefit of a web magazine is that it can and should be deployed with an archive of back issues in the form of a web magazine library. This library is what can become your greatest lead generator if you create a metered paywall, or at the very least, create library preview pages. I’ll show you how to excel at both below.

5 Ways to Excel at Using a Metered Paywall for a Content Library

1. Our best practice for most niche publishers who have decided to launch a metered paywall is to give away three views per magazine per month. Our publishing partners have found that this is a sweet spot that remedies all of the obstacles above.

2. Make clear that the content is premium when they are reading it, with an alert or pop-up on the bottom of the page that tells them it’s premium and gives them the number of remaining premium articles they have access to.

3. Design the paywall to be easily read, understood, and acted upon. That means designing in landscape for desktop and in portrait for mobile.

4. Include an email field in the metered paywall floaters; that way, you can register their email and sign them up for your newsletter, and if they abandon the paid order, you’re still able to engage with them.

5. For our premium publishing partners, we create four versions of each paywall floater to let the subscriber know where they are on their journey. The first three have links to log in, continue to the article, and a button where they can subscribe. The only difference is the counter (which says if you have read 0 articles, 1 article, 2 articles, or 3 articles). The last one has a message that they have viewed all their articles for the month, including a link to log in, a “not now” link that redirects to the home page, and a button to subscribe.

5 Ways to Write Winning Metered Paywall Copy for a Content Library

1. Start with a compelling 300- to 500-word excerpt from a piece of paid content on your website that tells a full and complete story, but still leaves the audience wanting more.

2. Following the excerpt, add a sales pitch that promotes the remainder of your paid content. This sales portion can range anywhere from 300 to 1800 words, making it a highly testable element of the template. You should tout the other paid content available with a subscription, along with all of the other benefits of subscribing.

3. Any emails that lead to a metered paywall should be formatted in a manner similar to a post rather than a typical promotion and should have both a headline and a subhead. The goal is for the entire piece to look and feel more editorial and less like promotional material. In fact, these previews can be recycled as posts on your website portal.

4. Ensure that your preview has a strong subject line and pre-header that will grab the reader’s attention. It is also essential that the subject line and pre-header do not read as a “promotion” but instead feel more editorially driven and highlight the content within the preview.

5. Consider the overall structure of the paid content on your site and how you can best create a paywall preview that promotes your unique offerings. For example, our team currently writes the Library Previews for a premium content partner who has over 50 separate collections available in their web library.

To compile a preview, our team chooses one article from a single curated Collection and writes a summary of that article that still feels like a complete story. In the middle of the piece, we tout all of the other items in that particular Collection that the consumer would have access to with a paid subscription. At the bottom of the preview, the text leads into a larger pitch about all of the Collections, as well as all of the other benefits and features of a library subscription.

The Library Preview not only teases premium content, but also uses up the 3 allowed “free” articles per month fairly quickly, hitting the paywall faster and incentivizing the reader to subscribe.

If you have an archive of back issues that you’d like to turn into a profitable source of new revenue, please reach out. We can show you how to increase your audience, revenue, and profits using the Mequoda Method. It’s how the most successful special interest publishers you know are thriving on the web. Schedule a 30-minute consultation with a member of our executive team today.


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