Unlocking Success: Salem Reporter’s 5-Month Journey to Audience and Revenue Growth

In this episode of the Paywall podcast, we dive into a case study on Salem Reporter, a local news publisher that has seen significant success in growing their revenue and audience through a strategic approach. Here’s what we discussed:

Background on Salem Reporter:
  • Salem Reporter is a digital-only publication based in Salem, Oregon, focusing on local news.
  • They have a strong emphasis on hyper-local newsletters and have implemented a free registration system and subscriber only newsletter.
Challenges with the Previous System:
  • Salem Reporter initially faced technical issues with their previous system, including problems with content access and support.
Transition to Leaky Paywall:
  • Tyler from Paywall Project began working with Salem Reporter and switched them to Leaky Paywall in May.
  • They implemented a one-and-one strategy, allowing one free article per month and then requiring registration to access 1 additional article and their free newsletter.
Revenue Streams:
  • Paid subscriptions
  • Salem Reporter sells advertising directly and partners with local businesses for ad sales.
  • They also generate revenue from obituary submissions, offering a cost-effective alternative to traditional newspaper obituaries.
  • Salem Reporter is exploring newsletter ads due to their high open rates.
Newsletter Strategy:

  • Salem Reporter’s free newsletter includes personal introductions, articles with images, and a section on local town hall meetings.
  • They prominently feature options for readers to pay for obituaries and subscribe in every newsletter.
  • Their subscriber only newsletter is simply an afternoon edition that captures the days news for more timely news delivery.
  • Salem Reporter has seen success with this strategy. In the last 30 day window they gathered 71 paid subscribers, 640 free subscribers, and a 57 active paid trials.
  • The ratio of paid subscribers to free subscribers is over 10%, which demonstrates the effectiveness of their approach. This does not include paid trials.
  • The seamless user experience and timing of registration requests contribute to high conversion rates.
Key Takeaways:
  • Simplify the user experience by using a one-and-one strategy (one free article before registration).
  • Personalize newsletters with a human touch and make subscription offers clear.
  • Offer a subscriber only newsletter.
  • Prioritize local advertising partnerships over ad networks.
  • Build a relationship funnel by offering a free newsletter with upgrade messaging.
This case study showcases how Salem Reporter achieved success in growing its audience and subscription revenue by implementing a strategic approach to content access and user experience.

Unlocking Success: Salem Reporter’s 5-Month Journey to Audience and Revenue Growth
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