Who would have thought that having people bypassing your paywall was good? Well, some media outlets have chosen to have more flexible and easier to bypass paywalls to gather information from those readers and offer them “ad hoc” subscription rates.
The phenomenon has a similar logic to that of film subscription platforms when they entered the market. When getting a film free via pirate websites became too much of a hassle compared to paying a small regular fee and having it all at a click.
The KIS principle: Keep it simple permeates the whole philosophy of letting certain readers bypass your paywall hoping that one day they will come across a fantastic subscription offer and, bored of cheating they decide to pay.
The idea is that these people bypassing your paywall are truly interested in your content, otherwise, why would they invest so much time and energy in bypassing it.
So, it turns out bypasses aren’t so bad and they could actually be good.
To know who those readers are you need to master segmentation techniques and be able to make the most of them. When you know who those bypasses are and can offer sexy enough subscription packages and attractive content based on their interests then you will find out that the chances of these bypasses becoming loyal readers are very high.
Furthermore, this segment of bypassers is great target for segmented advertising as their behaviour defines them mostly as tech-savvy avid for money-saving opportunities, which is an ideal field for Technology and IT gear brands to advertise.
Segmentation is key no matter what sort of paywall you use so let’s review your options and analyse the key aspects of each strategic approach:
Freemium paywall: you let some content be free and other “premium” so that only subscribers can read it. The logic behind this is that you should give a “taste of it” to the reader before he/she decides to go for the full subscription. It is one of the most popular styles of paywall used as it lowers risks of loosing too many visitors and the advertising revenue that comes with it.
Metered paywall: is a “pay as you go” sort of model. The reader will be allowed to read a certain number of pieces within a certain time frame. As bait, it usually begins with some free articles.
Dynamic paywall: an option inspired in ecommerce techniques. Dynamic paywalls are intended to entice readers who exhibit certain behaviours that indicate they are likely to subscribe to a publication. They monitor the reader’s journey and interest to suit the subscription offer most likely to convert.
Hard paywall: is a yes or no tactic. No one can read anything without paying. If your content truly has no competitors, this is your choice. And it is probably where you should decide whether you make it really “hard” to bypass or not.
If you are still unsure on how to combine tactics, segmentation, and paywall you may want to experiment with gamification.
Companies like National Geographic or the Spanish Media Group Vocento are using surveys, contests, and games on social media not only to be able to engage with younger audiences but also to improve their segmentation techniques and find out who they should target with what offer or publicity type at what time.
So, remember, there is not a single path for all. You must make sure you have the technical solutions and the right support to test, learn and fine tune your strategy and tactics.
Vocento has Protecmedia as their technological partner, while National Geographic and The New York Times rely mostly on internal teams. Find your own way, try, measure, and try again, as that is the only known formula to success.
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