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May 3, 2019, 10:32 a.m.
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LINK: www.wired.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   May 3, 2019

It’s been a little over a year since Wired.com launched its metered paywall, which allows readers to access four free stories a month before they’re asked to subscribe. (In a special offer right now, you can get a print plus digital subscription for $10 for the first year; subscribers will see no ads on the site.) In a post on Friday, Wired editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson outlined some of what the team has learned in this first year.

It was mostly good: “We increased the number of new digital subscribers in the first year by nearly 300 percent over the year before,” Thompson writes. “We don’t know if they’ll resubscribe (please do); we don’t know if they’ll ultimately pay higher prices (please do); we don’t know if it’ll be as easy to get the next batch of people to join (please do).”

Wired tracked the stories that ultimately induced people to subscribe. There were surprises here, Thompson writes:

About half the stories are the kinds of pieces I would expect to lead to subscriptions: meaty features that got lots of traffic. But some, including #2 [“The genius neuroscientist who might hold the key to AI”], didn’t get that much readership. Others either weren’t features or weren’t quite so meaty. And it’s interesting that two of the top 11 were essentially buying guides—though very well-done ones. So what’s the lesson here? I think it’s that people will subscribe after reading all kinds of stories if they’re done well.

People were much more likely to subscribe if they were coming from one of Wired’s newsletters.

The propensity to subscribe by people who enter Wired.com on a mobile device is rather low — unless they come in via a newsletter. (To give one data point, a visitor who reaches us via search is 1/19th as likely to subscribe as one who comes in from a newsletter; a reader coming in from Facebook is 1/12th; and a reader coming in from Twitter is 1/6th.) That’s one reason why we’re launching all kinds of new newsletters, tied to specific sections of the site.

Offering free gifts also didn’t seem to work that well — and one particular special offer landed with a thud:

We also, at one point, tested a partnership offering a free short-term subscription to a partner brand that shall remain nameless. The result? Our response rate tanked. Perhaps because people worried that their credit cards would just get scooped up by someone else and auto-renewed into eternity.

The full post is here.

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