Publishing enables brands to speak directly to audiences and showcase expertise and authority, but it also presents them with a great opportunity to forge strong direct connections with their audiences via email and other channels.
As brand publishers look to deepen their relationships with readers, registration walls are becoming a key component of their publishing strategies. Among the clients we work with and editorial executives we speak to, interest in registration walls is growing quickly, through which brands collect email addresses (at a minimum) to in exchange for access to content.
While it’s not a new idea, it is still one that is rarely utilized in the world of brand publishing. Asking people to pay with an email address to access content is a common feature among traditional news publishers, who can then use audience data to build a fuller picture of their readership to offer a compelling product to advertisers. For publishers that offer paid subscriptions, registration can be, as we’ve written about, a “powerful interim step on the path to conversion.”
Registration walls can be a powerful mechanism for brand publishers to learn more about their audiences and collect valuable first-party data. However, asking audiences to offer up data in exchange for content also then means creating content that is of high enough quality to ensure that there is a value exchange happening. Asking people to offer data and then not following up with engaging, valuable content can be a recipe for disaster, and risks turning off audiences entirely. But if a brand has in place a process and resources for consistently producing high-quality content, registration walls can be extremely helpful.
How reg walls help brands build deeper connections
Based on our experience working directly with brands in a variety of categories on launching and growing editorial initiatives, as well as feedback from readers and subscribers to Toolkits, we’ve noted a growing interest in the benefits of registration walls for brands. Brand publishers have found that registration walls can help them:
Provide a pathway to directly selling product.
For brands with e-commerce businesses, registration can be a step towards selling product directly. Because people are logged in and “known,” they already have deeper engagement with the brand in question. They can be marketed to, and they’re also likelier to be willing to convert into paid customers. Brand publishing can be a way to acquire customers at a much lower customer acquisition cost than other marketing tools, and registration can be another tactic to help deepen that relationship.
Create stronger audience connections.
A lot of traffic to brand publishers can be “fly by” traffic, which stumbles on a piece of useful content once and never returns. Offering value in exchange for email addresses (and potentially, other information) can help deepen the relationship between a brand and its readers, and provide a step towards more consistent communication between the two.
Collect data to drive product development and businesses.
The death of the cookie is nigh. For brands who increasingly find that they don’t know much about their readers, asking for data in exchange for content can be a powerful way to gain valuable information and insights about who is consuming their content. This data can be used in a variety of ways. For one client we work with, this data is used to fuel product development directly – what articles audiences gravitate towards are powerful signals for this company’s core product. For another client, this data are direct leads for its business development team, who can tailor their outreach based on what content people are consuming.
Provide access to email inboxes.
Emails are very useful to brand publishers. It helps build a habit among readers and is one of the most direct ways to engage with audiences. Registrations usually collect email addresses, which can then be used in a variety of ways. Publishing teams can create newsletters and other emailed editorial formats and have a direct relationship with readers in their inboxes. Email addresses can also be used for promotions and other marketing activity by the brand. They can also be used for surveys or other insights that can help brands hone their products or offerings.
Provide a pathway to eventual content monetization.
Some brand publishers do successfully sell content. For example, Hubspot-owned the Hustle has a paid offering called Trends, which has a weekly newsletter that focuses on business opportunities. Registration walls are a step towards eventually asking people to pay for content, and can be a good way to get readers to commit without diving in completely. In other cases, paid content can be offered in print, as Stripe’s (now defunct) magazine, Increment, did. Data from traditional publishers has shown that logged-in users convert to paid users at a higher rate.