Businesses that operate exclusively online are growing at a faster rate than ever.
Forbes reported that Netflix, the online video streaming service which operates using a paywall, “added 19 million subscribers in 2014, bringing their global subscriber base to 57.4 million.”
Edmund Lee of Bloomberg’s Tech Blog reported that the New York Times’ paywall has “helped turn the paper’s subscription dollars, which once might have been considered the equivalent of a generous tithing, into a significant revenue-generating business.”
It is clear from the proven success of paywalls with popular subscription sites that paywalls are becoming a critical component to e-commerce operations.
However, a paywall software can provide much more than just content access. There are several key elements that a business should look for in their paywall software to increase its impact on the overall site.
The CMS is the backbone of any media business. Accordingly, a business looking to implement a paywall is not going to want to have to perform a complete site overhaul and redesign of their CMS in order to integrate a paywall feature.
The ability to add paywall software into an existing CMS is something that a business often cannot compromise on. Paywall software must be available as an addition that will enhance their online business, not one that will create a bigger problem in terms of site development.
Its functionality must also be such that the paywall software has the ability to complement the existing software. Paywall software that can seamlessly integrate to become a cohesive additional unit is much more valuable than independent paywall software, especially when it can be combined with other site features.
For a paywall, to simply prompt payment is not enough for a business to most effectively utilize it. Paywalls can also serve as a way to take the valuable subscriber information and incorporate management services into that.
For example, paywall software is responsible for collecting information like dates of subscription, names and emails of customers, and methods of payment. When all of this information is stored in the paywall software, it only makes sense that the business should be able to integrate management features that will make this trove of information useful.
Gathering this information in a categorical and organized way provides companies with the most critical information they need to do their job. For example, a manager would be able to see which customers are due for a renewal reminder and which customers should be billed this week.
Further, the paywall can be made to actually follow-through with these tasks. Merging management features with paywall software creates a seamless way of using your paywall software to do much more than gather information.
Just as the paywall can be designed to incorporate subscription management, it can also be designed to include a feature to generate reports. These reports can take gathered information and create easily interpretable data that can be highly useful to business operations.
For example, a paywall would have the names of all new subscribers for the past years, as well as the current year. Accordingly, it is possible for the paywall to be made to report on things like percent increase or decrease in subscriptions, the amount of revenue the subscriptions generate on an incremental basis and any other information a user deems necessary.
Reports can also be made to show paywall usage to determine what type of content is being looked at by subscribers, or to show which content generated more new subscriptions so that the business can determine which content is best at converting more subscribers.
These kinds of reports provide the business with a snapshot of their operations, which can help management make informed decisions based on the most relevant data.
For paywall software to be as helpful as possible, it must also provide protection to the business and the customer. Clearly, it serves the business-side of the operation by limiting access to content only to paying customers.
However, a paywall that does not have the right security features has the potential to be “hacked”. The Observer and many other easily-accessible sites offer step-by-step guides that detail how paywalls can be hacked.
For a business to have a useful paywall, it needs a design that is impenetrable to hackers as well as updates that keep up with developments that may make it vulnerable.
Customers are trusting your business with personal information like their credit and billing information. A secure connection and secured data storage within the paywall is of the utmost importance to a customer.
Without this key feature, businesses are exposing their subscribers to unnecessary risks.
If the business were to be hacked, the business can be sure that their subscriber rates would plummet due to the breach of privacy and unnecessary hassle created.
The loss of trust and associated loss of business could be the end of what was a profitable B2C relationship.
Some businesses that are looking to implement a paywall may wish to allow a certain amount of access to the site or content before the customer is prompted to pay for continued access.
They may wish to utilize a paywall only for certain content, while the rest of the site can be free to access.
Therefore, a paywall that has the optimization to be customizable to fit the unique needs of that business is critical.
Paywalls have the potential to function as much more than a command to prompt customer payment. They can become the intermediary that takes some of the most useful information about an online business, and transforms it into a way to manage, interpret and protect their business.
For a business, the paywall software used on their site has the power to change their business operations and lead to positive contributions to their bottom line. As such, it is important not to compromise on any of the key features.
For more on paywall software and its capabilities, check out our Pros and Cons of Paywall Software blog.