Cover Story: Making Content Pay
MarketingProfs features all original content, mostly free, but with a stable of premium content available only to "Pro" members. The company believes strongly that free content should be as high-quality as what resides behind the paywall. "We want our prospects and would-be buyers to be so wowed by our free offerings that they can't wait to see the stuff we actually charge for access to," Handley says. "We want them to joyfully migrate up to paid membership—and the best way to entice them is by constantly producing great stuff all along the way." Among the corporations whose employees subscribe are Microsoft, IBM, GE, Cisco, 3com, Amazon and Adobe.
Just as quality, free content drives audiences to the Pro level, MarketingProfs has found that people willing to pay for Pro membership are more apt to buy additional content (such as online training product MarketingProfsUniversity) or attend paid events. "They are more likely to become [even] more involved with MarketingProfs as they move along that path," Handley says. With 367,000 registered online users, the pool of potential subscribers is large. While MarketingProfs does not release numbers of paid members (Handley says they are a "significant subset"), the company converts about 5 percent of new basic-level members to Pro each month.
The company recently expanded its paid offerings into training and research, but has no plans to put more of what it gives away behind a paywall. "We have found the paid and free content can be cozy bedfellows," Handley says.
The Deal LLC
Content behind paywall: Deal Pipeline information service
Rate structure: Enterprise information services, magazine and journal subscriptions
The Deal started way back in the "Internet bubble" days as a daily newspaper covering financial transactions. While the company's legacy product, The Deal magazine, still exists as a biweekly print product and website, the primary focus of the company has shifted from b-to-b publisher to information services company. A product called the Deal Pipeline, featuring more than 100 daily articles produced by a newsroom of 70, is designed to be a tool in the workflow of bankers, attorneys and financiers involved in mergers and acquisitions. While the bulk of the company's revenue comes from content licensing, paid subscriptions to The Deal magazine and a monthly journal, Corporate Control Alert, also generate revenue.