How to get readers to pay?

A brief guide to ensure steady subscriptions

How to get readers to pay?
Increasing reader subscription |Photo by Blake Wisz on via Quintype

28 July 2020 – Reuter’s digital news publication report states that over 52% of news executives believe that reader revenue is going to be the main source of income going forward. We covered the main findings of the report on our blog here.

Unprecedented times call for unrivaled changes. While traversing this uncertain journey through the global pandemic, ensuring a steady income from reader subscriptions demands that publishers shift the focus of their lens on what suits their readers the best and yet at the same time work their way to also keep their readers/consumers engaged.

Let us look at some ways on how to toggle between ensuring a steady income and providing a quality experience to our consumers:

Collaborate and Co-create

First things first, bring your company on board with the changes. All stakeholders from editors, writers, developers, to project managers must be integrated to create flawless outputs.

Talk about your company/Talk your way

Readers opt for a subscription for very many reasons. Sometimes it is to access information that is available only when subscribed, other times it could be to support quality journalism.

You can convert the vision of your organization and couple it with points on how readers can help fund quality journalism. A telling example is how The New York Times experimented with having journalists explain in detail their reporting process in ads for subscriptions during some of their podcasts. Another example is the messages at the bottom of its articles which are long, conversational, and customized by topic and geography, in The Guardian.

The focus must relentlessly be on the interest of the readers. “Subscription fatigue” is real and much akin to news fatigue. Given that the readers are spoilt for choices and publishers are scrambling for congruous ways to ensure lucrative outcomes, the balance between the two must be gingerly trodden upon. The Wall Street Journal was able to increase subscriptions 10% by simply throwing light on the ease at which subscribers could cancel their subscriptions if need be.

Research from the Media Insight Project highlights the potential paths to subscription, which publishers can use to better target their subscription offerings.

Focus on your content

The single most important point of focus, your content. It cannot be repeated enough that content is what bridges the gap between the subscribers and the creators, and justifiably so. It is the content that must ultimately scream out to the readers for attention and thereby maneuver the readers to pay for it.

You can experiment innovatively with content and adhere to what ensures maximum reader retention and increased subscriptions. One of the most successfully implemented modes includes- providing explainers as cover for big stories. Readers prefer to consume information deconstructed to them, thus explainers always work, a classic example of how The Economist presents news. Another impactful way is going the ‘finite edition’ way. This seemingly works best in the current time, given the prevalence of information overload.

Revenue models differ for every publisher. Freemium models and metered paywalls are seemingly popular among newspapers and magazines. A sudden shift to reader revenue models may not be easy; readers may not be willing to pay immediately as a wide variety of quality journalism continues to be available for free.

Analyzing reader behavior and consumption patterns by using the right analytics is the key to break through the inertia towards paid content.

Furthermore, research from the Center for Media Engagement suggests that we may be thinking about the conversion funnel inadequately. The team behind the report found that

Readers are not heavily persuaded by images of the newspapers’ logos or messages about what they’d lose if they don’t subscribe. Instead, readers are more triggered by messages about what they’d gain from a subscription, such as access to premium-only content.

A recent finding from Reuters also concludes that publishers who build direct relationships with their readers are better able to convince readers to subscribe. Conclusively, a subscription is not a one-time sale but a long-term proposition. Building a strong relationship with your audience is essential to succeed. This calls for factoring in the ease at which content is created, shared, a paywall is executed and the result analyzed. We’ve got it all covered in our products Bold, AccessType and MeType.

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This article is reprinted from the Quintype newsletter with permission from Quintype.

This story published by 1 August,2020

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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