Have you ever assembled a piece of furniture and, right when you thought you were done, you found yourself with a single screw left?

Rhetorical question. We all have.

Today, we’re providing you with a checklist so that the same doesn’t happen with your paywall!

1. Ensure users have the chance to discover the value of your premium content before the paywall

2. Include brand colors, selecting a single color to represent subscription

3. In a freemium model, label premium content to reduce frustration

4. Integrate other funnel steps into the paywall

5. Work on optimizing paywall visibility rate, aiming to balance frustration and engagement

6. If you’ve already collected key data points, make use of it to personalize the paywall and user experience

7. Communicate a strong value proposition on your paywall

8. Make sure your paywall is mobile-friendly

Prefer to read in the language of Molière? 🇫🇷 C'est par ici


1. Ensure users have the chance to discover the value of your premium content before the paywall

Think of subscribing like dating - you wouldn’t ask someone to marry you without first inviting them on a date. You need to give readers the chance to discover your content and value before blocking them with a paywall.

In other words, target the right users with your paywall, those that have already had the chance to discover your content. For less engaged users, we’d recommend soft conversion strategies and leaving content open to allow for content discovery.

Segmenting your users according to their level of engagement will allow you to do just that.

🏆Best in class example: Apple TV

Build the best paywall for high conversion rates

Why is this a best in show? The user is able to watch a free episode before being blocked.


50 paywall examples to inspire your subscription strategy | The Audiencers
Paywall benchmark examples from around the world

2. Include brand colors, selecting a single color to represent subscription

The idea here is simply about increasing premium offer visibility by making any promotional banners, buttons and the paywall easily recognizable.

Interestingly, yellow has become a classic color for subscription in France, likely because of its fluorescent nature.

🏆Best in class example: The Irish Times

Build the best paywall for high conversion rates

3. In a freemium model, label premium content to reduce frustration

Increasing premium content visibility is an essential step prior to the paywall to reduce frustration and prove the value of subscription. This can be done by simply labelling premium content with a tag in the same color as all other materials promoting subscription.

Find out more in our article on The Audiencers:

Paywall visibility rate: the essential KPI you should be tracking in your subscription strategy | The Audiencers
Tracking and optimizing both premium content visibility and paywall visibility rate will help move users through the funnel towards subscribing in the future.

🏆Best in class example: El Païs, Digiday and ELLE Magazine

Build the best paywall for high conversion rates

Notice the yellow tag 'Abonnées' (subscribers) on ELLE Magazine's site, the red 'Member exclusive' label on Digiday, accompanied by a locked padlock, and the small yellow icons 'E' on El Païs' premium content.


4. Integrate other funnel steps into the paywall

Reduce potential friction points (clicks, scrolls and data collection) that might prevent a user from subscribing by integrating subscription offers, payment or form fields into the wall.

🏆Best in class example: Alternatives Economiques

Build the best paywall for high conversion rates


With this wall, users are able to pay for subscription without leaving the page, maximizing on impulsive conversions. This led to a 40% increase in conversion rates for the French publisher.

Newsletter Walls: How a French publisher is innovating to increase its subscriber base | The Audiencers
This French print and digital news publisher has developed a unique engagement strategy involving newsletter inscriptions and registration walls to boost ARPU and de-anonymize audiences.

5. Work on optimizing paywall visibility rate, aiming to balance frustration and engagement

This refers to the percentage of traffic on premium content who actually see the paywall. Of course, whilst it's important that visitors are exposed to the paywall to encourage conversion, it's equally essential to allow readers to discover the value of your premium content. It's a balance between frustration and engagement.

Although we see publishers at both ends of the scale, we've found 80% to be the optimal paywall visibility rate, but A/B testing is recommended to find the optimal percentage for your publication.

🏆Best in class example: The Economist

Build the best paywall for high conversion rates


Why? Entice readers so that they want to “get to the end of the story” by subscribing, or offer registration as a soft conversion step that reduces frustration by allowing readers to access content for free


6. If you’ve already collected key data points, make use of it to personalize the paywall and user experience

Use data points such as name or content interests to make the paywall and user experience more suited to the individual.

🏆Best in class example: Harvard Business Review

Build the best paywall for high conversion rates

7. Communicate a strong value proposition on your paywall

The "Why" - your readers should understand why you are publishing content and why they should pay for it.

🏆Best in class example: The Wall Street Journal

Build the best paywall for high conversion rates

Why do they publish content? To provide trust-worthy journalism that solves a pain-point for readers

What makes you different from others in the industry? The reader makes decisions daily, and WSJ will help them to make more informed decisions, more easily with trustworthy journalism, implying well-researched content written by experts.


8. Make sure your paywall is mobile-friendly

It’s harder to grab mobile user's attention, and the small screen as well as the context of content consumption will have an impact on your paywall’s success rate. You should therefore adapt your strategy:

  • Reduce steps in the conversion funnel by integrating them into the paywall
  • Ask for less information in forms and ensure fields are auto-filled
  • Provide e-wallet payment options such as Apple Pay to instill trust and facilitate payment
  • Make use of a user’s existing accounts on Apple, Facebook or Google to make account creation simple

🏆Best in class example: Le Petit Journal

Build the best paywall for high conversion rates

Le Petit Journal kept their mobile paywall simple, adapting to the smaller screen and ensuring that the CTA button and value proposition are the center of attention.

Discover more best practices for optimizing conversion rates on mobile in our dedicated article:

How to Optimize Subscription Conversion Rates on Mobile
Whilst there’s more traffic on mobile, there’s significantly less conversions. Why is this? And how can you increase conversion rates on mobile?

Discover more of our content on paywalls:

6 Ways To Optimize Your Paywall Conversion Rates.
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Benchmark examples from some of the most successful content producers currently employing a paywall.