Anne Holland

Focus Group Feedback on Selling Online Content

December 12th, 2001

The sacrifices I make for my readers! I was hanging out at Debbie Weil’s WordBiz focus group yesterday because she called and promised free food. Unfortunately it was gourmet pizza which I’m completely allergic to. So I sat there and chewed on the random olive instead.

Sooner or later, the discussion between her email newsletter readers ended up where almost all online content discussions end up these days. Does anybody pay for any content online? One exec maintained with utter and loud certainty that “I’ll NEVER pay for content! … unless my company reimburses me.”

Another WordBiz reader said that she would not be interested in paying for a subscription to general email newsletters — but if those newsletters offer special reports on niche topics that fit her, the sale is a home run. A third focus group attendee said of paying for an online subscription, “It would have to be really dynamite content that I really couldn’t find anywhere else for free. It would have to be relevant to me beyond the point of reason for me to pay for it.”

All of which made me realize that selling online content subscriptions, due to our current free heritage, is going to continue to be harder than selling offline subscriptions for a bit. Those of us in the game need to rally our best marketing tactics, and test very targeted landing (aka splash) pages so sales prospects clicking through from highly targeted campaigns, then see highly targeted sales pitches aimed at convincing them we meet their personal information needs *beyond reason* and in a way no free content online never could and never will.

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