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The Subscription Gap

The Subscription Gap

What is “The Subscription Gap”?

Here is a common scene among publishers: lots of free users and less paying subscribers. The obvious goal is to get more subscribed readers, though turning free users into subscribers is a difficult process, we call this crossing “The Subscription Gap”.

The subscription gap has been overlooked since the dawn of the internet and it’s time to change that. By taking small actions that introduces users to different subscription options can help move users from free, across the gap to become paying subscribers. Though this process could be different for each user, therefore offering several ways to bridge the gap will mean more free readers become paying subscribers.

How to approach “The Subscription Gap”?

There is no single way to move a free user across the subscription gap, which is why we suggest a variety of tools and techniques. The main goal is to get a free user to pay for content. This could be an introductory offer, or perhaps a few articles or a daily subscriptions to get their feet wet. Making the purchase process clear and simple ensures the reader will remember the interaction positively.

How to bridge the gap?

There are a lot of theories and little data to support strategies, but let’s consider a few ideas that can help us get started:

  • Account creation — The first step to getting a free user to pay for content is to have them create an account. Publishers can gate off content with access dependent on creating a new account. After the user account is created they can access any content within that pricing group. Now you have a means to communicate to that reader. Perhaps offering a free daily pass to access all content will help the reader see value in your content. However, emailing a user who just created an account to buy a yearly digital membership for $175 is too much. Just start by saying thanks and offer something much easier to digest for a first-time buyer.
  • Promo codes/Incentives — Everyone loves a deal. Entice your free, registered users to try out different subscription options by offering them a promo code. Again, remember to start small. Offering 10% off a yearly digital subscription might be too big. Don’t ask the reader to jump the whole gap in one try. However, if you have a reader that has taken you up on past offers for more incremental subscriptions, perhaps they are ready to make the jump. Each readers journey varies and it’s important to understand and respect where they are in that journey. Does your publication make t-shirts or coffee mugs, adorned with your brand? Offer a free coffee mug to users that sign up and make a purchase in the first week. Maybe offer gifts at different purchase levels. Give your readers the feeling that they are being rewarded for their activity.
  • Subscription variety — Not everyone can be enticed by a perfectly crafted email message with just the right offer J Perhaps your only opportunity to communicate with that user is at the point of sale. Imagine that user is served the paywall. Like your other free users, they have never purchased anything from your site. That user already knows that you offer a monthly or
    yearly digital subscription. If those are the only two you offer on the paywall it is highly unlikely the reader will purchase. They already know about those offerings and have not purchased them. But, if the paywall offered a daily pass or a bundle of articles with no expiration, the reader might be more interested. If they make a smaller purchase, you can now start to show the value of a larger, monthly or yearly, subscription.

wallit paywall subscription gap


Bridging “The Subscription Gap” is no small task. It requires sticking to a planned strategy and making the necessary adjustment along the way. The Wallit subscription management solution is exactly the tool publishers and content creators need to help close the subscription gap. Whether you’ve been using a paywall for years or are just thinking about it, Wallit is the perfect partner.

 

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Tim Hunter

Tim Hunter is Director of Marketing at Wallit. His marketing background is rooted in user experience across the digital landscape. Tim is passionate about the web and how we can make it work for all stakeholders.