I was recently at the Ricoh Marketing Innovator Symposium in Boulder, Colo., which attracted a range of attendees from the print, brand and agency worlds. One of the key takeaways from the event centered around the generational divide — different age demographics don’t just want different messages, they want different messaging platforms and different forms of communication altogether. The reality is that age does matter and using the wrong platform with the wrong demographic will ultimately hurt a publisher’s ability to effectively reach — and market to — those individuals.
There’s no question that 2018 has seen many publishers make a push to increase revenue from subscriptions and paid content, which many see as a necessity in the face of digital advertising’s many uncertainties. Subscriptions have become the talk of the media industry. Yet most of this talk focuses on upping subscriptions in the consumer publishing space. What often goes overlooked is that many B2B media companies have established substantial revenue streams from paid content and are just as eager as their B2C counterparts to grow this business line.
B2B publishers do face a unique challenge in their paid content efforts. Historically, many, if not most, B2B publishers have offered their content to readers completely free of charge, made possible by the underwriting of advertisers. B2B publishers may need to train their audiences to have new expectations.
Just throwing up paywalls across content that was previously free to access, however, isn’t going to be a long-term strategy for success. Paid content — content people are actually willing to pay for — needs to have a clear value proposition. It needs to help a professional in a specific industry complete their work more efficiently, run their business more effectively, or succeed in their career. And publishers need to be able to directly indicate how their content is useful in that endeavor — or readers aren’t going to pay for it.
Getting Started with Paid Content
For B2B publishers looking to either begin or expand their paid content strategy, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Think Beyond the Subscription
Yes, the paid subscription is the most obvious “paid content” model, but it isn’t the only one out there. For some publishers that have always offered free, qualified subscriptions, going to a paid model might not even be feasible. Encourage your staff to get creative. Webinars, white papers, interactive guides and alert services are just a few ideas to get started.
Focus on the Quality of Your Editorial
“Content is King” might be an old cliché, but the reality is that it’s true. If you want people to pay for your content, it needs to be powerful, relevant and interesting. Use the tools available to take a hard look at exactly what people are coming to your website to read. And don’t just focus on the pieces that get the most clicks — look at what readers are spending a lot of time with and see if you can create products around those information streams.