Free or Premium? The decision-making process for your articles in a freemium strategy.
Should this article be free or reserved for subscribers?
It’s a common question for publishers launching a freemium model, one of the most popular approaches for employing a subscription strategy where content is divided into free and premium.
For a metered paywall strategy, the answer’s pretty well defined (although this still depends on the publisher’s strategy)…
- Some publishers block after a user has accessed a certain number of articles
- Others present the paywall once the quota of sessions is reached
- And the Peruvian publisher, El Comercio, defines metering as blocking content 24 hours after a user’s first visit
Hard paywall models are equally clear-cut: all content is blocked.
- Financial Times is perhaps the most well recognized example of this model
- Whilst others employ a softer version where the hard paywall is preceded by a soft conversion step, as is employed by Alternatives Economiques who first block a user with a newsletter wall before a paywall on the second article.
But, for publishers employing a freemium model, it’s a little trickier. Given that content needs to fall into either free (unlocked and available for all) or premium (blocked with a paywall and reserved for subscribers), the question comes down to how to best place an article.
There’s a few things to consider, best summarized by this decision tree:
It goes without saying that this tree should also be adapted to your individual strategy, content and audience.
The goal of free content:
- Increase engagement
- Prove the value that you have to offer
- Encourage re-circulation
- Promote your premium offers
- Optional: generate leads for subscription through soft conversion strategies, including registration and newsletter sign up
The goal of premium content: