Asking for an email address in exchange for content has become common across the Internet. And it turns out audiences don’t really seem to mind.
We surveyed 2,509 U.S. consumers in collaboration with the research experts at National Research Group, a global firm that works with the world’s biggest companies. You can see all the data over here, but what caught my eye was the following:
53% say they leave websites asking them to volunteer their email address or other information to access content. Put another way, nearly half of people will readily give up their email address or other information in order to access content.
Registration walls – where users have to register with their email address and other information in order to access content – can be a powerful tool for brand publishers’ efforts to build deep and ongoing relationships with audiences via content.
They can enable brand publishers to learn more about their audiences and provide a pathway to other key goals, such as directly selling them product, targeting advertising and marketing, collecting data that can help drive product development, open up access to email inboxes and in some cases, be a pathway to content monetization if that is part of a strategy. On a base level, email addresses are usually the most important information, but plenty of publishers – both “traditional” ones and those inside brands – also can ask for other data, including job titles or sectors. Data coming from registered users can also be combined with other types of data to build even more all-encompassing pictures of who audiences are.
A few brand publishers employing registration walls include:
- Hubspot’s Trends offering uncovers must-know business trends and emerging ideas via a newsletter, a video series dubbed the “Netflix for entrepreneurs” and access to troves of data. Some data is available to access in exchange for an email, a higher tier of membership costs money.
- Salesforce’s streaming offering (also dubbed the Netflix for entrepreneurs) features shows and podcasts, all of which require signing in to access.
- Think With Google, which features marketing research and digital trends from Google, designed for marketers and strategists, is a kind of think tank featuring Google data. It also employs a registration wall.
- Robinhood’s “Snacks” publication, which provides daily doses of financial news, is available only via email.
- Netflix Tudum has much of its content free to access, but for specific articles and videos based on personalized recommendations, users have to sign in.
There are relatively few examples, which is surprising. (If anyone knows of any more, please hit reply and tell me.)
Perhaps even more importantly, registrations are a powerful signal to show whether content is actually reaching the right audiences. Even if they turn away just over half of drive-by readers, it is likelier that they can create deeper, more meaningful connections with the readers that do give up their email in exchange for content. They can also be a powerful North Star to make publishing a more audience-centric business, forcing people to think about audience needs and wants first and foremost.
“The center of gravity has pushed into high fidelity, impactful, thoughtful content that builds audiences instead of content that people fill out forms to download a white paper where you have to put in the name of your first-born child,” is how Colin Fleming, evp of global brand marketing at Salesforce, put it recently.
The key is, as Fleming touches on, to ensure that audiences are given the most bang for their buck in exchange for their email address. This can be done in a variety of ways to ensure the value exchange feels fair: Access to high quality content, community features like comments or group chats, ability to sign up for newsletters and other emailed content, and so on.
The main challenge used to be whether consumers are willing to give up data in exchange for content. Our data shows that many of them are. The issue now is the hairier one of whether the content is good enough to be worth it.