“Click and you shall receive”; the current model for accessing online content. Though with less than ideal revenue being generated from digital properties, as well as a decline in print ad revenues, publishers are hoping to change that model. Slowly, more are introducing reader funded content beside their current free content. Often times, reader funded content is being introduced abruptly and/or without warning, leaving the users confused. Paid content is a new product offering and should be introduced accordingly.
If you need some tips on how to launch a product, look no further than Apple. Notice how they never quietly introduce something new? One of the biggest product events of the year is when Apple brings together fans and shareholders to announce their newest product(s). They have been able to make product announcement events something its users eagerly anticipate. Though after the announcement, intense marketing campaigns continue to promote the new product(s). They don’t treat the launch as a “one-and-done” type of event. What’s even more interesting is the “next big thing” is generally an updated version of the iPhone. Nothing to speak of really, but they create a buzz about it and meanwhile create excitement among consumers.
A hurdle that publishers of all sizes face is not whether to offer reader funded content, but rather struggle to understand it as a new product and market it appropriately. The focus instead seems to be on getting the paywall up versus clearly communicating to loyal users to better outline the product and plan. By abruptly introducing a paywall, publishers are essentially saying, “Surprise!! Now you have to buy this digital content”. That approach certainly won’t make users feel like they are part of this new product release. If anything, they could feel a bit lost or confused. By sharing an enthusiastic message with users that clearly states the purpose and value of the product can create a buzz, done well in advance of the launch. One email might be helpful, but a strategic outreach campaign with several touch points will surely be more effective.
Setting goals and having a game plan are also essential to a solid product launch. These will certainly look different for each publisher, but should help to achieve the goal of stable reader funded revenue. Goals are essential as they provide a barometer for success. A game plan is likely something that begins weeks before launch and, like any good marketing initiative, carries on for the life of the product.
Reader funded content is definitely going to be a part of digital revenues in the future. To ensure that it is a successful part, make sure to give it the attention it deserves. Treat your users to an amazing experience and they will treat you back.