Paying Readers Tripled - Political Blog andreas-unterberger.at Adds Single Item Sales to Complement Subscriptions
The well-known Austrian journalist Andreas Unterberger has been running his website andreas-unterberger.at since 2009. The "not entirely apolitical" diary of the former editor-in-chief of Presse and Wiener Zeitung is one of the most read blogs in Austria.
Subscriptions + Single Articles
In August 2018, in addition to his existing subscription model, Unterberger began selling individual articles with LaterPay. Previously, since 2015, he had been successfully offering individual sales with the Austrian payment system Selectyco. After Selectyco exited the market, Unterberger quickly found a new solution in LaterPay, and was able to integrate the platform with little effort.
The new offering with LaterPay was structured as follows:
- Every day, Unterberger publishes at least one new main entry in the "diary," priced at 36 cents per article. This is accompanied by several guest commentaries per week, priced at the same amount.
- Another section of the blog includes links to data and studies, which are available for an initial 36 cents per article. References to interesting articles in other media are especially in demand.
- All articles are offered with the "Pay Later" model, meaning that readers can access the content without registration, and only pay when the total amount of their tab reaches 5 euros.
- In addition to retail sales with LaterPay, the blog offers subscriptions for 10 euros per month or 100 euros per year. Content for subscribers is also free of advertising.
- "Diary" articles are subject to a fee for the first 48 hours after publication, after which they are freely accessible. In this way, Unterberger’s two most recent articles are always behind the paywall.
- Choosing the paid option also allows readers to comment on individual posts. "Diary" articles receive on average several hundred comments each - with some seeing as many as 600 comments.
2,000 new customers through single item sales
Every second Pay Later purchase led to payment
Average revenue per user (ARPU) of 55 euros
45% retention for paying customers
Customer base tripled in 1.5 years
Performance in Year One
- Sales in the first year grew on average by 40% per month.
- Sales saw a strong one-off growth in May 2019 due to the "Ibiza Affair" (a political scandal involving the former vice chancellor of Austria - and leader of the Freedom Party - and Johann Gudenus, a deputy leader of the Freedom Party).
- Pay Later purchases saw a stable payment rate of approximately 50%. Put another way, every second purchase through LaterPay resulted in payment.
- On average, payment was made 45 days after the first purchase.
- Retention among paying customers is high - 45% are still following the blog one year later.
- The average revenue per user (ARPU) of these loyal customers is 55 euros (compared to 100 euros per subscriber).
- Approximately 2,000 readers bought a total of 13,000 articles in the first year - a four-digit revenue generation.
Optimizing the Offer
Unterberger leveraged LaterPay’s analytics - which makes numbers and trends visible, helping to classify results and support the development of a customized approach in each case - to continuously optimize the existing offering. At the end of the first year - in June 2019 - the team reviewed the existing offering and made a number of changes to optimize it further.
- The price of diary articles and the ability for guests to comment was raised from 36 cents to 59 cents.
- The cost of recommended content, however, was reduced to 21 cents from 36 cents.
- As a result of this optimization, the average revenue level doubled (+118%).
Findings and Evaluation
Through his blog, Andreas Unterberger has succeeded in building a digital journalistic product that is successfully financed by paying readers. Where did that success come from?
- Exclusivity: All articles are debate or opinion pieces and as such can be read exclusively on the blog. New articles are always subject to a fee after publication and later become part of the freemium offer.
Regularity: Unterberger reliably publishes a new article every day.
- Commitment: The discussions in the commentary section of the articles are an essential part of the offer. Only paying users can comment immediately and participate in the developing discussions directly after publication.
- Permeability: Although a large part of the revenue comes from subscribers, early on Unterberger focused on the complementary sale of individual articles. The "Pay Later" model also makes it easy for occasional users to buy individual articles behind the paywall with minimal effort and pay for them later.
- Trust: In addition to the subscription, all premium content can also be purchased individually, without requiring immediate payment. This pays off, because the individual sales bring Unterberger additional revenues and new paying customers. In fact, the introduction of individual sales has tripled the number of readers who use the paid service.
"The introduction of individual sales has tripled the number of readers using the paid service."
The blog operator himself comments on the cooperation with LaterPay as follows:
"I am very satisfied with the cooperation with LaterPay. The most important thing is that the handling of the single article purchases and the cash flow does not require any effort on my end - apart from the necessary initial discussion with LaterPay and its programmers on how to best structure the process. I also don't get any complaints from my readers about the process. As a result, I can concentrate on my content and still finance the blog very well. And at the same time, I regularly get the message that there is not only a computer at work at LaterPay, but that optimizations are also constantly being considered there.”
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