We recently launched our reader revenue project at La Voz de Galicia.
Here are several things we’ve learned in the first two months:
1. More and better content means a higher-quality audience. This means more people hitting the paywall. It seems obvious, but it is comforting to see that the business works in this way.
2. The content that generates audience is not too different from that which makes users reach the paywall. I have to admit we imagined the differences would be greater than they really are.
Perhaps we exaggerate when we imagine a group of brainy digital users who only read local content of maximum transcendence and great articles of global geopolitics with a high propensity to subscribe. It is not like this. Intensive users and flybys are more similar than we thought. Again, it is good to check on your own site to see if the content generating an audience is not the same one that generates intensive consumption.
3. The content your subscribers read is very different from that read by your large global audience. It is a good preliminary analysis exercise to check the difference between what your general audience reads and the type of content consumed by those who have already subscribed.
Chartbeat allows us to make this comparison. The differences are substantial: There is very little SEO traffic and not much from social media when it comes to subscriber analysis.
4. The habit of reading content and buying subscriptions (or any other articles, I’m afraid) are different. Yes, there is a clear correlation between intensity of consumption and propensity to subscribe, but that doesn’t mean the weekly audience peaks are the moments in which more users decide to subscribe.
For example, Saturday mornings, typically a low audience time, is one of the periods with the highest number of conversions. Just as a reminder, these are lessons learned in less than two months, it is clear that we need more time to confirm certain trends like this one.
5. Once you have launched the project, it is time to review everything and start over. Test, test, test, and do not be afraid to make all the changes you think will help you learn something new. From a theoretical point of view, the logical thing to do is learn from your mistakes.
6. The onboarding process is important and more difficult than you can imagine. Especially in a case like ours, working in a country in which the culture of payment for content is still very scarce or non-existent, the main challenge is to be very clear. The user, even the one who loves you and is willing to support your editorial project, needs to understand what is happening, why everything won’t be free from now on, what she is buying, and what the new game’s rules are in detail. Again, what we consider on paper has to be contrasted with the real experience of our users.
7. Do not spend a lot of time making theoretical predictions. There are a lot of benchmarks and interesting studies that offer an idea of where things are going.
However, the only real conversion and retention numbers are those you will discover by experimenting in your own community. It is essential to work with predictions and objectives, but at the end of the day you will realise that sometimes you’ve been excessively pessimistic and, at other times, the greatest optimist.