This article draws on best practices and data gathered from across hundreds of subscription websites and millions of user interactions.
For content producers, relationships are at the heart of every user interaction. And relationships drive subscription conversion. But in order to engage visitors and convince them to convert, you have to show them that yours is a brand they want to pay for.
For many users, that starts with registration — the first step that takes them past one-off or casual engagement and puts them on the path to long-term loyalty. Even users who aren’t ready to subscribe will often register — in fact, Piano has seen that visitors with very low subscription conversion rates register at nearly the same pace as those with high subscription conversion rates. And for those users, it’s a key step on the path to subscription: the average conversion rate of registered users is 10 times that of anonymous visitors.
At its heart, registration is the exchange of data for access. Which means registration loses value if you do nothing to escalate engagement and further develop the direct relationship initiated by the user — making the most of the valuable information they’ve provided.
Through email campaigns, targeted promotions, newsletters and other engagement initiatives, you can create ongoing relationships, while demonstrating the value of your brand and exposing users to the premium content or benefits they’ll get if they subscribe. If done right, that exposure will go a long way in convincing users you’re worth a further investment.
Making the Most of Registration
Five key best practices will help you build on your relationship with your registered users and enhance that value exchange.
1. Look into experimenting with guest passes.
For freemium sites, in particular, temporary guest passes — typically given in exchange for registration — make it easy for visitors to try out premium content and features for a specified length of time. Granting longer access periods and assuring visitors that “no credit card is required” can go a long way in increasing conversion rates further.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for more specific information — and to keep on asking.
By asking users for more focused data through custom fields — their wedding date and destination in the case of a bridal magazine, for example, or team affiliations for a sports publication — you can build on the exchange of data that you’ve already established and enhance your knowledge of users to better target your offerings. Through the use of progressive profiling, you can even collect this user information incrementally, continually creating deeper audience understanding with each visit and accumulating the kind of first-party data important to advertising and event marketing.
3. Think about incentivizing registration through features.
Though registration walls can be effective, enhanced functionality can also be a strong incentive to drive registration and show the value of your product as a whole. Visitors appreciate things like the ability to save stories for later and a personalized experience focused specifically on them.
4. Continue to build the relationship once it’s established.
Once a user is registered, continuing to nurture that relationship is key to making it last. That means including them on your newsletter mailing list and letting them know about upcoming promotions that are applicable to them — allowing them to continue building their affinity to your brand and giving them incentives to convert.
5. Get personal.
By tailoring targeted content to individual users, you can increase your chances of getting seen. Piano data shows that personalizing newsletters based on users’ content preferences increases open rates by as much as 150 percent and pageviews generated from emails by 120 percent.
However they arrive at your doorstep, registered users have one thing in common: they were motivated enough to come to your site in the first place and see enough value there to sign up and begin a direct relationship with your brand. With the right nurturing, you can build on that — eventually inspiring them to subscribe.
Want to gain more insights from Piano’s benchmarking data? Read Making Every Offer Count: Turning Users Into Subscribers in a Modern Media Landscape.