From Casual To Committed

The key to winning the subscription game is capturing the attention of your casual readers.

Most of those readers will find you by searching for a specific topic and finding a specific article or through a recommendation on social media. (That’s why you have a metered paywall, after all: to make all your content searchable and shareable without giving it all away for free.) On average the casual reader will read 1-2 articles on a visit.

To turn casual readers into subscribers, you have to entice them to explore more of your content and to connect with your publication. This is best done by building your relationship with them incrementally:

The first step is to encourage them to join your email list. Once they’ve done that, they are 10x more likely to become a paid subscriber.

So, how do you get them to that first step? Make it easy for them to engage with your material: add some related articles.

The Low-Hanging Fruit

To really engage the reader, you want to include recommendations based on what they’ve already committed to reading.

Fortunately, there are any number of WordPress plug-ins that will generate a list of related articles by category. So then it just becomes a matter of placing that list where it will be the most attractive.

There are two possible locations for this. The first is a classic: the bottom of the page. It’s a logical place: if they’ve read that far, they’re already interested and probably hungry for more information.

Land Line Magazine does this well. After the author blurb, they have a list of topical articles for the readers. (They also sneak in an email sign-up bar, just to plant that thought in the readers’ heads as they go.)

Of course, that’s assuming they read all the way to the bottom. If they do, you’ve pretty much already got them in the bag. 

But not all readers start with that level of commitment.

Snag The Scanners, Too

A study conducted by traffic analysis firm Chartbeat (and published in Slate Magazine) has determined that most visitors only read between 50% and 60% of any given article.

So why not place your recommended reading right around the sixth or seventh paragraph? It won’t disrupt the readers that want to read farther: we’re well used to graphics and ads interrupting the text. And it will grab the readers that are only there to scan the content.

Tea Journey Magazine is a great example of this placement.

The related articles slide in right at the point most casual readers would bounce.

Ease the Way

Once you’ve got them invested enough to read a second article, it’s easy to slide in an email sign-up. You can offer it passively, like Land Line, or as a pop-up.

Or you can follow the Tea Journey example and offer a free level after the second article. No payment required, just the low, low price of an email address.

Either way, you’ve moved them from just skimming to your subscription pipeline.

And all you had to do was add some related articles.

Looking for more ways to turn casual readers into paid subscribers? Let’s talk.