The owners of Thurrott.com knew they had a loyal audience and they also knew that in order for the website to continue to do what its readers loved - write news and reviews on personal and small business technology, they needed to monetize it to stay in business. For a little more than a year, the popular blog and namesake of the technology blogger, Paul Thurrott, garnered over 1 million pageviews per month on Thurrott.com.
We knew the audience was loyal but we needed to understand more in order to develop the new paid blog experience. HEEDGROUP called for loyal readers to participate in a multi-part primary research study in order to gain first-hand knowledge of what they loved about the blog, the primary editor and eventually weighing in on the idea of paying a subscription for blog content. We also knew that on average a blog that suddenly puts up a paywall can expect to lose 50% of the traffic. We needed to work on a solution that would keep the audience loyal
The research was eye-opening as it always is...
Through a series of questions, we had first-hand audience feedback on content features that they felt were of extreme value to the readers. We were able to start to categorize what the audience told us what they would be willing to pay for in order to read. After the primary research study, we we redesigned the blog with eCommerce functionality for subscriptions while at the same time developing a communications plan to rollout the new business model and warm the existing audience to the paywall while at the same time enticing new readers to the blog.
Image 1: The HEEDGROUP team prepared a survey to benchmark sentiments towards different content features.
We understood the audience's sentiments about Thurrott.com by talking to them.
Multiple conversations with the audience helped HEEDGROUP and Thurrott.com make good decisions on how to introduce a new paywall to an audience that was used to getting the content for free.
When we finally redesigned the blog experienced with a new paywall, it was a huge success. Almost no audience was lost, and there was minimal negative feedback because we listened and involved the audience throughout the business evolution.