One of the rising trends in digital media publications is subscription-backed content and the practice of implementing meters for webpages and digital publications. This allows companies to limit and/or block access to content until a consumer signs on – whether it be through a subscription, email registration, etc. When partnered with strategic planning, metering can help convert your anonymous visitors to known customers. The strategy adds value to your content and creates additional value that is advantageous for your advertisers. Metering practices vary by company and even within individual publications, but the process for creating and applying them can be standardized. Take a look at our five-step meter activation process:

Step 1: Identify the Content

Identify the content that you would like to meter. Your strongest content, or your most popular series, is a good place to start. Choose the content that you find most valuable, or work towards creating new content that is unique and helpful to your consumers.

Some examples of content of interest for visitors can fall under:

  • Industry reports, stats, or study results
  • Members-only articles or issues that have a unique point of view
  • Webinars on Industry Topics and Best Practices

Take note that metering the content that consumers can find elsewhere, unmetered, will inevitably drive them away from your site.

Step 2: Designate the Meter Type

Designate which type of meter will be most successful for your brand. There are two main ways to meter your content:

  1. Paywall: This form of meter requires consumers to pay a certain amount in order to access the content. For example, you could charge consumers $10/month to access the daily news articles.
  2. Regwall: This meter doesn’t require consumers to pay, but it blocks content until someone registers. Registration information is determined based off of what you’d like to know about your visitor. One caveat is that the more information you are requesting, the less likely the visitor will want to complete the form.

There is no general right or wrong meter. Rather, you should choose the meter which is suited best for your content and audience. Doing so will determine the overall success of the meter. You ultimately want the meter that aligns with your business model and growth strategy.

Step 3: Build Your Meter Series

Once you have the meter content and determine which type of meter you are going to use, the next step is to build out the steps in your meter series. This will involve what kinds of site block you’d like to have, the tone of your messages and the frequency of the messages before a final paywall/regwall goes up. For example, you could have a few initial meters welcoming visitors to your site and giving them 10 free articles per month before hitting a paywall. Next, you could incorporate a count down intermittently throughout their visits, such as stating there are 7, 4, 3, 2, 1 free articles left and to join now for unlimited access. Another option could be to immediately hit them with a registration wall on the initial visit. Each brand will have an individual strategy. Most of your metering series customization will go into this step.

The best way to form a strategy is by diving into your audience and understanding your visitors’ behaviors. Some questions to ask that will help create a strategy include:

  • Do we want to provide limited access outside of the meter?
  • How many times can someone access our content before it triggers the hard block?
  • How many messages do we want to display before the hard wall is triggered?
  • Are there channels that we want to set as exempt from the metering rules?

Step 4: Implement Your Meters

Implement your meters by creating the actual copy, buttons, links etc. and test them. Now that you’ve laid the groundwork for your meter steps, you can create the specific messaging, style, images, etc. for your meters. Make sure you always test your meters before making them live to ensure they are displayed correctly in your site interface.

Once everything is set up the way you want it, the meters can be activated.

Step 5: Analyze Each Meter’s Performance

Review the performance of each of your meter messages and how your audience is interacting with them. To fully maximize your strategy, consistently monitor and modify the meters – from messaging to style to frequency – in order to effectively target your audience. Some common key performance indicators to review when monitoring a live meter include:

  • The number of conversions
  • The amount of consistent site/page visits
  • Increase in known website traffic

Testing out different metering strategies is extremely beneficial in order to identify how your audience responds. Understanding the performance of your meters will help you to develop new meters in the future that will attract your audience and drive revenue.