ELLE is an online French lifestyle magazine, producing content on fashion, beauty, health, entertainment and more.
The team first got in touch with Poool in Winter 2019 with the goal of increasing their revenue from subscription without impacting ad-based monetization. With 15 million unique users across France and high quality, specialized content, we were very happy to hear from them and excited to get started on developing their strategy with dynamic walls!
There were a few things in particular that persuaded the ELLE.fr team to work with us:
👉 Segmentation capabilities: the ability to divide audiences based on a user’s behavior or context is something very unique about Poool which gave ELLE the opportunity to create personalized journeys that are adapted to the user, maximizing chances of them converting to a subscriber
👉 Ability to employ different walls: ELLE.fr actually started with a data wall, before employing a paywall from November 2020. The Dashboard allowed them to do this with ease, integrating any wall into any user journey without needing the tech team’s support
👉 Various integration options: Poool’s walls can be integrated into a site in a way that matches the publisher’s strategy. ELLE, for example, chose to integrate their paywall in the front end, meaning search engines can still see their content and so SEO is less likely to be negatively impacted
👉 Autonomy for marketing teams: the Dashboard has been designed to make editing, testing, launching, etc very simple, giving marketing teams full autonomy from dev, and this is something that ELLE.fr really appreciate
Before launching, and as recommended by our very own Marion Wyss as part of Poool’s consultancy offer, ELLE carried out some very important, often overlooked work on reader engagement - the foundation of a subscription strategy. Specifically, the team optimized the quality of their content, visibility of their premium articles and value proposition.
This work is vital for ensuring that, when you launch your walls, you don’t simply convert the most engaged users but that you continue to grow and develop your subscriber base in the long-term, nurturing volatile and occasional users towards your conversion funnel. It also puts the focus on the value exchange that the paywall will create. After all, a user is highly unlikely to subscribe if they don’t consider your offers to provide them with value that’s worth paying for.
The next step was to carry out A/B tests using the Dashboard. Particularly for a publisher only just starting out with a wall strategy, this is an important way for ELLE to learn about their audience and discover which approach is the most successful in converting users into subscribers (but, of course, testing should become a continuous process, which ELLE have understood very well).
The test consisted of a newsletter wall followed by a paywall (A) vs a paywall alone (B)
From this test, they learnt that although B led to a slightly higher conversion rate, the newsletter wall was effective for engaging and nurturing those who weren’t yet ready to convert meaning that it was overall more valuable for the publisher.
Therefore, the team decided to work on the visibility of their paywall through increasing the number of premium articles and employing a hard paywall whilst simultaneously following a soft conversion strategy (e.g. newsletter walls) to improve engagement and nurture readers towards conversion.
Since then, ELLE have increased the number of subscribers by 250%, continuing to carry out tests to optimize their strategy and running temporary scenarios for seasonal offers, helping to reduce habituation.
👉 A/B testing of design and value proposition:
👉 Temporary scenarios for summer (the turquoise design above) and back to school (below) which can be set to start and end automatically within the Dashboard:
But what about the impact of a wall strategy on ELLE’s advertising revenue?
From day one, ELLE.fr were very keen to increase monetization from subscriptions but without negatively impacting their ad-based revenue. We really understand this at Poool - diversifying revenue streams is hugely important for online content producers today. Given this, our solution allows you to implement and optimize subscription and advertising models simultaneously.
Since launching in November 2020, ELLE’s ad-based revenue hasn’t even slightly decreased due to their subscription model. In fact, thanks to their more qualified and engaged audience, alongside their ever growing subscriber-base, they’ve been able to target ads, increasing monetization from this stream, whilst also improving the user experience through presenting readers with adverts that match their interests.
What’s more, ELLE’s wall strategy hasn’t damaged their SEO, which the publisher has worked hard to optimize over the years. Thanks to the flexibility of Poool’s solution, the team could integrate the block in any way they liked:
‘’For Elle.fr, moving content to a premium’ strategy didn’t hinder visibility on the News box, Google News or Discover. We use a front blocking method, with no HTML/JSON tag declaration."
- Alexy Souciet, SEO Manager @CMI France
Find out more about how to limit the impact of a wall on SEO in our white paper (available in French and English) as well as our webinar in French with Alexy and Poool’s CEO, Maxime Moné!
After just a year of launching their premium strategy, ELLE have made impressive progress and are really making the most of Poool’s dynamic solution. So we were interest in what the team have planned for the future:
👉 Expand conversion strategies to non-premium articles: just like anything, it’s important to continue to optimize in order to sustain growth. As such, we’re currently working with ELLE on optimizing engagement and soft conversions on free content, allowing the publisher to nurture users and gradually lead them to subscribing in the future
"Thanks to Poool, we’ve been able to launch a paywall strategy whilst easily and quickly reacting to the constantly changing pandemic world.
In addition to the simplicity of implementation, the Dashboard’s audience segmentation functionalities have become hugely valuable to our team, allowing us to build adapted engagement and conversion funnels, putting marketing intuition into practice."
- Jean-Philippe Siourd, Managing Director @CMI Digital
ELLE are an amazing example of how to successfully launch a subscription model. They worked hard on optimizing their site prior to integration, designing their wall to match their strategy and A/B testing possible scenarios, which is now all paying off in the form of an ever growing subscriber base.
They really have turned their audience into business!
Interested in doing something similar and launching a dynamic wall strategy without negatively impacting traffic, SEO and ad-based revenue?