Subscription Website Publishing

Increase Paywall Revenue Today

I was speaking with a colleague recently who had crossed over from the magazine industry to newspaper publishing and back, about consumer marketing trends. We noted that it will be interesting to see how lessons learned from the newspaper industry move into the magazine industry over time. Daily newspapers are both financially larger than the average magazine and get much higher prices per subscriber. Thus it makes sense that much pioneering work will happen with the prominent daily newspapers that can trickle down into the magazine industry.

My colleague mentioned a trend of variable retention pricing based on engagement level, demographics and other attributes that can be accumulated around individual subscriber profiles, and my brain started buzzing with all the opportunities this presents.

However, we’re not just looking at advancement in dynamic renewal pricing, but also in flexible and “smart” paywalls. If you’re offering up a paywall to the most engaged readers, you are also getting data that says they’re willing to pay a higher price. The more active a user, the more they desire the content.

All of these factors show flexible engagement: looking at engagement and deciding how much content to give away.

The biggest question we get is, how much free content is enough? You have to be careful when you’re a special-interest publisher comparing your own paywall model to the New York Times or the Financial Times who have historically given away much free content. Why? Because they publish a lot more content than the typical special-interest publisher.

Your goal is to establish a sampling mentality. How much access do you need to give to obtain a subscriber? For most special interest publications, we recommend giving away three article views per magazine per month. Our partners have found this to be a sweet spot.

Next, we determine the best renewal price, which depends on the type of content and engagement. This follows the principle that the more they consume, the more they’re willing to pay when the renewal comes up. 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 to which they have access.

Best practices like these are established through testing across the Mequoda network and often come out of our growth meetings with partners. These meetings are where we compare notes and share what we’ve learned from the 200 premium subscription, membership and club programs we currently have running.

If you’d like to benefit from this data, and would like to work together to develop a premium membership website that leverages your content archive and brand, we’d love to chat. Schedule a call with a member of our executive team to see how we can help make it a seamless and profitable experience for you.

By Don Nicholas

Chief Executive Officer

During his decades long career, Don has worked with colleagues, clients and partners to design digital publishing and marketing systems for more than 300 magazines, newsletters, memberships, clubs, and events. Don currently serves as executive publisher for Cabot Wealth Network, Food Gardening Network, Financial Freedom Federation, I Like Crochet Network, I Like Knitting Network, and Recipe Lion Clubs. His team's Haven WordPress CXMS offers publishers the industry’s most flexible and robust online publishing and marketing platform. Don and his strategy team have served as management advisors for virtually every major niche publishing company in North America including Meredith, Hearst, Trusted Media Brands, and hundreds of independent for-profit and nonprofit organizations. He has managed and led educational events for MPA, SIPA, FIPP and Harvard University. He has authored numerous books and hundreds of articles on journalism, publishing, technology and marketing. Before founding Mequoda in 2004, he served as founder and chief executive officer for Blue Dolphin Magazines and Lighthouse Communications Group. He started his media career as a journalist and producer working for the Armed Forces Network aboard the USS Enterprise. Don holds degrees and certifications in organizational management, journalism and electrical engineering from Capella University, Sacramento State University, and the United States Navy.

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