Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have seen (and likely been blocked by) a paywall of some sort.
This infamous barricade that stops us from accessing content unless we pay to subscribe. And however valuable a subscription strategy may prove to be for digital publishers, a paywall may not be right for you, nor your audience.
But what if there’s more to it than that? What if you can establish alternative value exchanges that benefit both you and your readers, without them having to pay a penny?
Collect information in exchange for access to content to better understand your users, gather first-party data and increase ad-based revenue through targeting.
“40% of internet users are ready to share their data in exchange for access to a premium article.” - viewpay
Users fill out the form in your wall and sign up to your newsletter meaning data collection and increased engagement simultaneously.
Journal du Dimanche on the left, Euronews Spain on the right
Ask users any questions that will inform your strategy and decision-making. Even better, make the wall into an interactive format to increase engagement.
Mediacités: “This article in exchange for your opinion!... Why have you not yet chosen to subscribe?”
The ultimate data exchange whereby you convert your anonymous user into registered members with a custom reader ID, whose interactions with your content can be tracked at every visit across devices. Not only can data be collected in the form wall but also progressively over time, meaning you can highly personalize the user experience and gradually increase engagement and ARPU.
The Africa Report highlights the additional value gained for users by registering.
Instead of asking users to commit to a regular payment, you could employ a wall that suggests a one-off payment, whether than be donation based or pay-per-article
A philanthropic approach whereby you ask users for support to continue to do what you do. This is often employed by independent publishers who wish to leave content accessible for all but equally need the means to continue to do this.
Le Petit Journal - “Support the quality, independence and growth of your publication!”
The Guardian’s banner at the end of content, asking for support whilst understanding that not everyone will be able to pay a recurring fee.
What about users who wish to read a variety of content across multiple platforms? Subscribing to each wouldn’t be a feasible option here. Instead, micropayments could be employed to allow these readers to pay-per-article, choosing which individual pieces they’re willing to pay for.
The Daily Maverick, for instance, offers day, month and 6-month passes alongside their subscription offer.
Actions alone can bring value to your business. Of course, these likely won’t act as your main revenue stream, but they can provide support to any existing monetization models.
Watching an ad
Increase revenue through advertising by asking users to watch an ad in exchange for access to content.
Challenges takes this approach as a soft conversion step for volatile users prior to presenting the paywall.
“To read the rest of this article and access all of our content, watch this video”
Simply clicking on a button
I know what you’re thinking - how is this valuable to your business?
In fact, a wall that simply informs readers that you’re offering them the premium content for free can help demonstrate the value of your content and increase the visibility of your premium offer, which has been found to correlate with conversion rates.
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