Paywalls: shall we try to make them more attractive than the Berlin Wall?
Johnston Press is experimenting with paywalls for some local websites. It's an interesting development - it's easier to have a monopoly over local news than national news, so if people see this content as valuable, maybe you can get them to pay.
Sadly, a quick glance at paywalls shows that publishers - and Johnston Press in particular - need to massively improve the way they promote the benefits of subscribing ...
Awful attempts to sell content subscription
For a start, if you're selling content, maybe make it look good? Don't refer to "the n/a site" ...
And let's sell the product. What's good about a premium subscription? What do I get, and how does it benefit me? I think some marketing advice is desperately needed here.
This is the other half of Johnston Press's experiment - pointing out you can only read the story in full in the paper.
Could this be more underwhelming? Let's not talk about the great content in the paper or the benefits of reading or anything ... And let's not make the upsell message stand out, either.
First things first - this is your main marketing message. So a greyish font on a lilac background does not stand out.
Second, try to SELL THE BENEFITS. I can get full access to the website - great. But why is this good? What are the events and supplements. I know this subscription will most be paid by companies, but that's no reason not to do some proper marketing.
(Click for a bigger version if you can't read it). I guess the FT may have tested this and it works. In which case ignore me. But to me it doesn't do a very good job of selling the benefits of registration for free (let alone subscribing). I can see some more articles. And some tools I've ever heard of that aren't described. Woo hoo.
Telegraph Clued Up
(Again, click to make bigger). Now we're getting somewhere. A description of the benefits (prizes, different puzzles, 5,000 to do), some proper thought into how the subscription is described and a strong call to action. Good.
Tmes Crossword Club
It's a bit hard to read, but look - a list of member benefits! That's how to sell ...
(Click to make bigger, plus disclaimer - I worked on this redesign). You can see what you would get in context, there's a description of the benefits AND a strong call to action. Which? lets you browse round all the content and just hides the best information - the ratings.
Are publishers embarrassed by paywalls? Do they not understand how to sell? Do they not understand how to sell online?
I'm not sure what the issue is - but some publishers who want people to pay for online content clearly need to give a lot more thought to their marketing ... They should stop DESCRIBING it, and start SELLING it.
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