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

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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