Paywall case study: Rasmussen Reports
By: Peter Keung | June 13, 2013 | Case study
Electronic media company Rasmussen Reports is best known for their US elections polling, but they do public opinion polling on a wide variety of topics, releasing new poll results on its website daily. Their multi-tier paywall subscription system has successfully helped them generate website revenue at different levels of user engagement.
There are 3 subscription levels on the Rasmussen Reports website:
- Public: access to all top story headlines, daily presidential tracking poll, commentary, daily update e-newsletters
- Rasmussen Reader: full access to all current articles
- Rasmussen Platinum: detailed demographic breakdown of poll results, preview of upcoming polls, access to full article archive
The paywall is implemented completely within the eZ Publish content management system, with an integration with an external payment processor.
Editors can mark whether and article is private or public with a simple dropdown list.
Articles available only to Platinum users are saved in a distinct section of the site.
From awareness to signing up
Throughout the site, there are banners indicating to users that they can sign up for an account to get a more enriched site experience.
There are multiple entry points to the sign-up process within articles, on the homepage, in sidebars, and in the main navigation. A/B testing has helped us determine the most useful messaging.
Different messaging is shown to different users; for example, public users see this banner:
... whereas Rasmussen Reader subscribers sees this banner:
Once users start the sign-up process, they are presented with two tiers, each with monthly and yearly options:
Promotions and trials are periodically run via a promo code system. Promo codes are easily defined in INI files where basic settings such as expiry date and trial period can be set:
[Promocode-election2012] Description=Yearly subscription through December 2012 TrialPeriod=72 InitialPrice=24.95 ExpSubscribe=31-10-2011 ExpRenew=31-10-2011 ExpirationDate=01-01-2012
We use Payflow Pro to manage recurring payments and payment information (so that we don't have to store any credit card information on the site itself), while we manage all other elements within eZ Publish: the shopping cart, pricing, users and user groups, and the permission system. Key subscription information is stored within the eZ Publish user account, including the account expiration date, a history of all account changes, and the Payflow Pro profile ID.
For site users, they can manage their account within the familiar site interface:
Here, they can renew their account, update their login information, update their credit card information, cancel their account, and manage various site notifications.
Behind the scenes, we have a handful of maintenance scripts to accomplish the following:
- Notify users of upcoming subscription expiry
- Expire users
- Upgrade and downgrade user accounts
- Cancel and re-open accounts
- Check Payflow Pro for failed payments and expired credit cards
This case study was part of the eZ Sessions #7 video presentation. Watch it below: