How To Convert Free Subscribers To Paid members
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How To Convert Free Subscribers To Paid members

A comprehensive guide to converting free subscribers to paying members.

When it comes to subscription-based publications, 'conversion' is the name of the game. Clearly, it is not that simple but as creators, one needs to purposely move forward with the aim of transforming free subscribers into paying members. It is a fact that consumers often lap up content when provided for free but the art of turning them requires some meticulous planning and discerning that one elusive factor that makes your content monetary viable for your users. So, how do you begin and what steps should you take? Let's break it down:

1) Identify your most valuable offering
2) Associate it with the user's necessity
3) Create a sense of urgency
4) Offer promotional terms
5) Do not overwhelm them
6) Make the free-paid transition easy and flexible
7) Keep them informed of all modifications


1) Identify your most valuable offering
Before you begin requesting your users to convert into paying members, it is imperative that you understand the exact nature of your offering and the value that you provide. Find answers to questions like, what is the one thing that sets you apart from others? Why should a subscriber pay you? What is that one insight that only you can provide? These questions would help you frame the perfect offer for your users and make your message clear and succinct.

2) Associate it with the user's necessity
Once you have identified the most important aspect of your work, it is important that your users find it relevant and of use. The idea is to frame your offering in a way that a user realizes the importance of your work and associates it with their own needs. For example, if you write about ways of becoming a better writer and provide writing tips, then you need to associate it with your user's need of learning new writing techniques. It is only when a user finds that your offering matches their needs that they take the step towards becoming paid members.

3) Create a sense of urgency
There's a reason that you often come across phrases like 'Limited Time Offer', 'Try It For 15 Days For Free', 'Your First Month Is On Us', etc. The use of these terms evokes a sense of urgency amongst the users and in some ways, the fear of missing out kicks in. These terms work in two ways. Firstly, it provides the users an opportunity to experience the product for themselves and make an informed choice about the offering. And secondly, they are primed towards conversion as they know that the free usage would eventually come to an end. This dual effect, quite often, helps achieve a lot of conversions in real terms.

4) Offer promotional terms
It is not only important that you build a sense of urgency but it is also imperative that you provide reasonable incentives. Promotional offers, early-bird discounts, low rates for the first 100 users, etc. are useful incentives for a user who is convinced of your work's utility but still requires a slight push towards conversion. It creates a sense of bargain among your users and you can take it as a fact that a good bargain is something no one likes to miss.

5) Do not overwhelm them
As you start sending out emailers, you need to strike the perfect balance between useful information and promotional emails. A lot of either leads to user fatigue wherein, over a period of time, they lose interest in your offerings not because it becomes irrelevant but because the information barrage becomes overwhelming. Also, do not switch to paid subscriptions suddenly. Like putting a fish in a tank you have to be patient and let the idea stir a bit. Start by letting them know about your plans of converting your content as premium and provide them with dates regarding your move. Prepare the ground for the transition so it doesn't come as a shock for your audience.

6) Make the free-paid transition easy and flexible
As a creator, it is often a good idea not to have all of your content pieces as premiums. You should always have some content available for free as these pieces help you attract new users and potential paid subscribers. That being said, a customer always feels better knowing that there are options available. So, make sure that you allow them to switch from paid members to free subscribers and vice versa easily and comfortably. Not only this increases the trust factor in your audience, it shows that that you are not working just for the money but are also invested in the art of what you do.

7) Keep them informed of all modifications
Last, but not least, keep your audience informed of your actions. Be it the launch of subscriptions, new offers, new content, change in prices, or anything else, keep your audience on the same page. Make them a part of your process and work with them as if they were the most important stakeholders in your work.

To conclude, the key to conversion lies in the fact that you work with your audience, for their benefit, and to their ease. An audience-oriented publication that offers flexibility and incentives to the audience is better poised to reap the benefits of subscription-based revenue models, and they are the best placed to inspire loyalty as well.