Converting free website users to premium subscribers
The Marketing Challenge:
How do you convert users of a high quality free website to premium subscribers? That was the problem facing TheStreet.com with their premium offering, RealMoney.
Thousands of users had become accustomed to getting RealMoney’s expert online stock market and investment news content for free. Now they were being asked to pay $19.95 a month to get more in-depth advice from the same source.
Craig Huey knew that he had a triple challenge. Not only did he have to (1) convince prospects that they’d be getting content that would be worth the price. He also had to (2) be sure not to drive away readers who could easily feel manipulated if they felt they were being asked to pay for what they had been getting for free. Plus, to (3) convince those unwilling to pay a premium price that the free content on RealMoney would continue to be worth a daily visit to the website.
The Creative Solution:
Craig recommended an online direct response letter from TheStreet.com’s senior vice president targeting the hard core information seekers that frequented TheStreet.com.
This long-copy direct response approach was contrary to traditional Internet practice, but Craig has proven that direct response techniques were a perfect fit with the Internet.
The more difficult challenge was coming up with a creative theme to accomplish the three big marketing goals. This was accomplished by positioning the numerous advisors on RealMoney as a high level investment think tank that strategies the market throughout each day. The reader was invited to join them by email, receiving real-time advice as the think tank members conceptualize it.
The content that would continue to be free was positioned in the letter as “news and observations” by the RealMoney staff, including up-to-the-minute stock data, research, and investment “tools.”
A 30-day free opt-out trial was created to let prospects try the premium service. Additionally, two special reports were offered as further incentive to try RealMoney for free for 30 days.
That combination proved to be a winning pitch. Readers rushed to sign up, creating the largest investment premium site in America. Web hits on the free site continued to be high, as well. These results exceeded the client’s expectations by over 200%.
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