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How to drive registered users to become paid subscribers

By Matt Broad, Director of Optimization Services – Piano @piano_io

Getting a user to register is far easier than getting a user to pay—users shown a registration offer have a 1.69% median conversion rate, vs. 0.26% for a paid subscription offer.

The good news is that registered users are more likely to become subscribers. But it can take some time for them to convert. The best practices below can help you attract more registrants and ultimately push them down the funnel to become paid subscribers.

Asking the right users to register

The first thing to recognize is that a registration offer may not be the right path for all user segments. So publishers must be strategic on how to segment audiences and determine who to convert quickly as registered users, vs. those who should only see the paid subscription offer.

Email is the leading referrer when it comes to acquiring subscribers, according to Piano data, which validates the registration experience for anonymous users who are coming from lower-performing referral sources (search, social, etc.). Those coming from email could be more apt to convert, so you might show them a paid subscription offer right away. However, you should consider introducing a guest pass or trial for users who arrive on-site from lower-performing referral sources.

Another way to segment the appropriate users to show a registration offer is algorithmically, or through machine learning. If you can determine a user’s likelihood to subscribe, you can ask those who aren’t as likely to instead register. It’s a common “first ask” in the customer journey and a solid tactic to engage the user with your publication and content.

Converting registered users to paid subscribers

When you do get someone to register, how do you keep them engaged and ultimately to become a paid subscriber? It’s not uncommon to wonder whether registered users will ever subscribe, but a smart strategy can ensure that the registration experience does not impact your conversion rates for users who are more likely to become a subscriber.

Some users convert quickly on their first day or first week as a registered users, but many more users will take a month or more to become paid subscribers. These numbers can help you model potential subscriber growth over time.

Some tactics you might implement to encourage paid subscription include:

Collect first-party data

By analyzing your registered user group, define how many have hit a content lock and have not subscribed. Do they warrant a different journey? There are always going to be users that just won’t pay, so collecting more first-party data to build those users’ profiles can help you tap into more advertising opportunities and generate revenue outside of subscriptions.

Make a ‘“crazy” offer

Offer a great deal at a steep discount because it just might be an offer your audience can’t refuse. Not all users will warrant this offer. However, by segmenting those that visit often but never subscribe, this may push them across the conversion “finish line.”

Target logged-in no-access users

Running promotions outside of your content lock is a good tactic to target users who are logged-in but aren’t subscribed to your site. Less intrusive on-site messaging can show users an offer while they’re reading “free content.”

A few more registration best practices

Whatever your strategy or how a user registered, treating registered users the right way will help lift conversion rates:

Create a clear value exchange

Whenever possible, connect the registration to the user benefit. It’s not just about registering, but becoming a member, getting these exclusive benefits, getting something tangible in exchange for providing your information. This messaging tends to increase conversion rate and make user consent more likely.

Minimize friction

Utilize email-only registration or social signups for ease of registration and collect additional information over time. You might consider a passwordless initial option to get users in the door, then you can capture other data later on in the user journey.

Be transparent

If you are collecting additional information, tell the user how you’ll use it and what the benefit is for them. For example, don’t just use their email address for ongoing subscriber acquisition emails. Give them something they want and will engage with, like an email newsletter.

Treat registered users like customers

It may take time, but registered users are likely to subscribe, so treat them as you would a valued customer. Create an onboarding experience for registered users as you would for a new subscriber.  Encourage engagement, highlight user benefits and provide relevant content recommendations.

A registration experience can unlock a lot of additional value for your publication, but only if you proceed with caution so you don’t impact your existing paid subscription offer. Treating these users like customers with a clear value exchange will ultimately help audiences cross the finish line to become paid subscribers.


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How to drive registered users to become paid subscribers