How adding a free level is growing subscriptions for Small Boats Magazine

Success after success

Small Boats Magazine is going from strength to strength.

A niche publisher of in-depth articles on the world of small watercraft, it took a little time to find their digital stride. But once they found it, they found it.

They were already doing so many things right, and yet, adding a free level has only brought them even more growth.

Laying the foundation

Awhile back, Small Boats undertook a major overhaul.

They had already had some success with Leaky Paywall and IssueM. With the help of our partner 50Fish, they redesigned their site, revamped their SEO, rebuilt their content categories, added social channels and a handful of other features.

In the following year, they doubled their organic traffic.

(And with more traffic comes more subscribers, more advertisers and content sponsors, even ads for their classified section.)

But they still found more to do.

One more technique

We talk a lot about the benefits of adding a free level and Small Boats is a great example of why.

In addition to full selected samples of ‘premium content’, Small Boats allows casual readers to browse for interesting articles. They can read two before the meter runs out.

Then, a few paragraphs into the third, they hit the subscription nag. It prompts them to either fully subscribe or simply enter their email address (no credit card required) to finish reading the article they just started.

That’s it. Just one free additional article. No recurring promises.

And yet, in last six months, they’ve seen continued modest growth in their traffic. But the big winner has been Small Boat’s email list.

Their email sign-ups have increased by 20% each month.

Why does email matter?

People who sign up for your email list are 10x more likely to become paid subscribers.

Once they’re on your list, they’re in your subscription funnel. By sending them newsletters and promotions, you’re gradually nudging them along to signing up for the full subscription.

They get an email with teasers of your amazing content. They follow the teasers back to your site, where they quickly run out the meter, and are prompted (again) to subscribe.

If it happens often enough, they will eventually give in. And all without you having to lift a finger.

Emails can be automated, nag messaging can be targeted to reader type. With the right tools put in place — as Small Boats has done — it can all just happen.

Want to find out more about building your email list and filling your subscription funnel? Let’s chat.

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