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Janet Roberts

Free-to-Fee Tip: Don't Give Away the Store
By Janet Roberts



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NEW YORK - While most of you were working hard on your newsletters this week, I was sequestered in a New York University classroom with a bunch of online publishers who have figured out how to sell subscriptions to their Internet content and others who are still looking for the right way to do it.

I was at the one-day jam session "Selling Subscriptions to Internet Content," sponsored by MarketingSherpa.com, where every speaker shared paid-subscription experience and advice.

I'll be sharing information over the next few weeks from the various sessions and interviews.

First, though, here's what kept surfacing over and over about mixing free and paid content, either in your newsletter or on your Web site: Keep them separate and unequal.

All of the publishers who spoke at the conference offer free material as well as premium paid content. For some, the free content is the diet version of the paid story. For others, the free and fee materials don't cross paths at all.

ChangeWave.com, a premium investment-advice site, offers a free newsletter and Web content with general news, opinion and analysis. To get specific recommendations and advice, you have to pay a minimum $79 for a three-month trial subscription.

Building trust is the best way to convert a free reader to a paying one, said ChangeWave Founder Tobin Smith.

"We start with free to build trust. WaveWire is our weekly trust-development business. You have to have a differentiated voice. You start to develop value for free. ... (Once you do that), you have earned the right to make an irresistible offer, to make them better off in a way that emotionally engages them."

To see how ChangeWave does it, click here.

A transcript of the "Selling Subscriptions to Internet Content" conference will be available in June. Check it out in advance here.

Ezine-Tips for May 24, 2002

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