How To LaterPay: Do’s and Don'ts from 8 Years’ Expertise
TL;DR: It is entirely possible to make money with paid content, but you have to follow certain rules and patterns. There is no magic bullet, but rather its a process and a mix of low-friction and high-friction models that will ultimately give you an edge over those who have placed all their eggs in one basket. For eight years, LaterPay has been experimenting with and optimizing paid content strategies, and we’d like to share with you what works - and what definitely does not work.
At LaterPay, we make it easy for people to buy digital content and services - and we do so in a simple and elegant way. Our secret sauce is in customer on-boarding - converting users into paying customers. They can then easily be on-boarded to other revenue models or simply shifted over to your existing monetization models. We have proven that our customers acquire new paying customers, generate incremental revenues and drive new subscriptions (without cannibalizing existing subscription revenues).
But how should publishers and content providers make money with online content? How should you go about integrating LaterPay into your revenue generation strategy? And how can you best prepare in order to be successful with that strategy? Below, we address many of the common situations and questions our partners encounter as they implement the LaterPay platform. We’ve deliberately kept the responses short - so that it’s easy to navigate - but in each case, we also link to further reading materials. We strongly encourage you to explore those as well.
Low-friction models are essential to generating transactional revenues
The path to sustainable revenue streams will always be a combination of a-la-carte and flat rate models. With subscriptions, publishers get an initial burst of revenue, but then the rates start to plateau as subscriptions capture all the loyal audience available. But subscriptions only address a fraction of the readers, while leaving out up to 98% of occasional users and fly-bys.
Low-friction models, in contrast, engage everyone. They start slowly and then build over time as they continue to engage new customers. Getting the user to make that initial transaction in a transparent and appealing way is what sets LaterPay apart - and what makes a huge difference in how users perceive the buying experience. They appreciate the choice and control that they get. It is about user trust and choice, which makes low-friction models user centric - and it is easy and fun, which leads to great results. As a result these models build an additional revenue stream that, once it ramps up, keeps on coming.
Manage your expectations - right from the start
Successfully monetizing your content and building sustainable revenues requires a change in mindset. Driving engagement and building digital revenues is a process - not a one-off activity - and mastering this process is essential.
You should expect to take as much as 18 to 24 months in order to build a sustainable revenue model comprised of low-friction models and subscriptions. Hoping that you can put up a paywall and within 6 months bring in significant revenues is essentially setting yourself up for failure. Plan on having a steady stream of content that you can monetize, expect to be busy calibrating your offerings, and commit to testing different approaches and tweaking the results.
How to be successful with LaterPay
We’ve taken the expertise and experiences from over eight years exploring the micropayments and the transactional space and distilled it into a series of insights that cover industry best practices and lessons learned.
|DO||Have a Team|
|You will need a dedicated team to run your monetization program and payment solution. Your tech team can be involved, but the heart of that team needs to be on the business and product side - the people who write the articles and those who run Product.|
|DO||Have an Audience|
|You need either high numbers of regular users or very exclusive niche content for a small but very engaged community. Without one of these, you’ll either lack the traffic or the content. A paid content strategy is no substitute for reach.|
|DO||Interpret the Data Provided by Analytics|
|It’s important to understand and interpret the transactional data that is being generated. You need to understand how people react to your paid content offering so that you can improve it.|
|DO||Follow Best Practices and Proven Experiments|
|LaterPay consultants are available to advise on setting up and optimizing your content, adjusting your pricing models and creating user conversion funnels. It is up to you to decide whether you will listen to these proven methods.|
|“Put up a paywall” is not a strategy - it’s just a tactic. A strategic approach to paid content is to sell your content in a variety of ways to address different audience preferences, from fly-bys to loyal users.|
|DO||Have the Right Content|
|You need to offer content that’s relevant to your audience. It must be exclusive, enticing or relevant in order for your audience to engage. And you must be publishing enough content as well - having just two articles doesn’t cut it to create engagement. People want to choose what they read every day.|
|Harness the power of emotional events that impact your audience, one moment in time after another. Use Contributions (voluntary payments) to capitalize on what is truly relevant to people - an event in their community, a worthy cause or a timely issue - and leverage this time-limited emotional relevance to drive engagement and ultimately revenues.|
|DON'T||Expect Audiences to Stumble into Your Paid Content Model|
|Spread the word out across all of your properties - social media, newsletters, promotions - and make sure that your marketing team is looped in to maximize visibility and impact.|
|DON'T||Expect Too Much, Too Fast|
|You need a full 18-24 months to build up your revenue streams from subscriptions and low-friction models. If you’re not ready to embark on a two-year journey to develop steady, sustainable revenue, don’t bother.|
|DON'T||Set It and Forget It|
|There is no catch-all model that works right out of the box, there is no magical setting that is going to start churning out money from day 1. It’s an iterative process, where you listen to and interpret the data, and from that determine how to adjust your offerings.|
|DON'T||Forget to Share Your Plans|
|This partnership is a two-way street - it requires collaboration and communication. Every time we have integrated with a partner and we have not been kept in the loop, they inevitably come back with problems and issues.|
How to implement low-friction models
LaterPay makes buying and selling content effortless for everyone - even at the smallest amounts. By trusting users and giving them choice, we convert users to paying (and happy) customers. We remove the barriers and distractions that stand between a user and a purchase. In a nutshell, we offer the best available solution that makes it easy for you to acquire new users, build engagement and drive reader revenues.
Here are some examples of successful low-friction models to get you started:
- Fuel the funnel with single article purchases. Single article purchases can help onboard readers turn them into paying customers.
- Use time passes to bring back the digital single copy. Time passes enable publishers to offer timed access to all the content on your publication.
- Consider asking for contributions and donations. Readers often want to reward quality content, and their donations and contributions can provide an additional method of monetization.
- Sell ad-free access. Users hate online advertisements, so why not give them a choice as to whether or not they see them?
Ultimately, it is essential to be realistic, particularly in the early stages. When you move from a house to an apartment, you need to reset your overall expectations - what you can bring, how you will live, and so forth. In the same way, when moving from analogue publishing to the digital world, you cannot expect to compare apples to apples. The revenues will come, but they require a different approach and a new mindset - managing your own expectations and leveraging the insights I’ve set out above will keep you on the right track for a successful integration.