Monetizing Content with Subscription Commerce

Monetizing content with subscription commerce

By Brad GustavesenApr 15, 2021

Monetizing your content with subscription commerce comes with unique challenges. Learn how to overcome difficulties with a headless CMS and commerce platform.

Your website has great content. So great, in fact, that you’re thinking of monetizing it by selling memberships and subscription products. But before you jump right to selling subscriptions and collecting recurring payments, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared to handle the unique challenges of subscription commerce.

The best way to simplify content monetization and subscription commerce is to ensure that your content management system (CMS) and commerce platform can work together. That way, you can update content quickly across your platforms while simplifying the payment process for consumers. When the two work hand-in-hand, you can easily harness the power of subscription commerce to monetize your website content.

Why choose subscriptions for content monetization?

There are plenty of ways to make money from your content. You could run ads, participate in affiliate marketing, or offer sponsored content. While all of these are viable ways to earn an income, selling subscriptions can provide you with the most benefits.

For starters, subscriptions don’t force your business to follow advertisers’ requirements. If you use monetization methods like AdWords or affiliates, you essentially have to work with a partner and follow their (sometimes strict) guidelines, even if it’s at the expense of good content.

With a content subscription, you work for yourself. You have the freedom to focus on creating high-quality content without worrying about appeasing your partners. You’re free to create content that’s tailored specifically for your paid subscribers, helping to increase engagement and provide a better user experience.

Subscriptions also allow you to learn more about your customers. Since you manage the subscriptions, all the user information is stored on your CMS and commerce platform, not in some massive database at Google or Amazon. You can use this information to better understand your target audience and provide more valuable content for them in the future.

Of course, content access subscriptions don’t have to be the only type of product you’re selling. Beyond this, you can create membership products that provide your customers with much more than just access to content. For many sites, memberships include deliverables (think welcome packs, pricing discounts, membership kits, or other perks) as well as other items.

Key takeaways:

  • With other methods of content monetization like AdWords and affiliate programs, your content must sometimes follow strict guidelines.
  • Content subscriptions give you more freedom to create content geared toward your specific audience without worrying about partner regulations.
  • Subscriptions give you more access to customer data, helping you create content that’s more engaging for your unique audience.

Challenges of subscription commerce

Subscription commerce might come with more freedom than other types of content monetization, but that also means it’s more for you to manage. Instead of getting checks directly from affiliates or ad managers, you accept payments from the customers directly. In other words, you need to handle billing internally.

Subscription commerce comes with a few more challenges than traditional one-time sales:

  • Automatic recurring billing – Unless you want to manually invoice potentially thousands of customers every month (depending on how many subscribers you get), it’s best to get a commerce platform that can automatically bill customers on a recurring basis.
  • Managing customer information and preferences – Subscription commerce requires a lot more information. You need to manage customer profiles that include their basic information, billing details, preferences, and subscription level (if you have multiple).
  • Infrastructure to handle customer service – Subscription commerce comes with a lot more questions than one-time sales. Customers might need to change their subscription status or alter their account information. If you’re not prepared to handle the increased customer interaction, it could hinder your business performance.

To make the billing process simple for both you and your users, you’ll need a commerce platform specifically designed to handle the unique challenges. Of course, that’s just another platform you’ll need to manage.

As if it wasn’t hard enough to get designers, developers, content creators, and marketers on the same page working in your CMS, they’ll all have to work together to manage the commerce system as well. If you have multiple content platforms you want to monetize, that means you’ll need a commerce platform (or multiple) that can handle all the various revenue streams.

Key takeaways:

  • With a subscription model, you need to handle customer billing internally.
  • Subscription commerce comes with unique challenges like recurring payments, information management, and increased customer inquiries.
  • A commerce platform adds another system for your team to manage in addition to your CMS.

Combine CMS and commerce platform for best results

Adding another system doesn’t have to be as challenging as you might think. Many CMS and commerce platforms can work together to make the content subscription process as straightforward as possible.

For example, imagine you’re a user on your site. The content is spectacular, so you click to subscribe. Instead of simply opening a checkout screen, you’re taken to a separate e-commerce site to make the purchase. The whole process feels disjointed, and nobody likes to be taken to random websites without their knowledge. So, instead of completing the subscription process, you just close out the screen and go about your day.

This is what happens when the CMS and commerce platform don’t work together. When users browse through your content catalog, they’re enjoying your CMS. When it comes time to purchase a subscription, they need to go through a separate commerce platform, which isn’t ideal for user experience.

Now, imagine a different scenario. When the user clicks on the “subscribe” button at the bottom of the content (managed by the CMS), they can input their profile and billing information right from the same site. The account, billing profile, and transaction are all completed by the commerce platform, and the user is redirected to a “Thank You” page within the CMS. The commerce platform and CMS are integrated, which creates a seamless user experience.

Key takeaways:

  • Separate CMS and commerce platforms make for a disjointed user experience.
  • Combine your CMS and commerce platforms to make a seamless transition between looking at content and checkout.

Benefits of going headless

Choosing subscription-based content monetization is all about freedom. You can create the content you want without worrying about advertising or affiliate partners regulating your website practices. But all that freedom could be for naught if you choose a CMS and commerce platform that dictate your site design and management.

Create the perfect user experience

Traditional platforms are rigid. The CMS and commerce platform might only work with certain website designs, forcing you to sit in the passenger seat when it comes to creating a user experience.

Headless commerce platforms offer much more flexibility. A headless platform is when the CMS and commerce platform are separated from each other and the website. Everything works independently and pulls information from one another. That lets your team manage each aspect individually for unlimited opportunities for creative control.

For example, your creative teams can manage the CMS and create the ideal user experience without worrying if your commerce platform can handle the design. Instead, the CMS can simply pull information from the commerce platform with an API and vice-versa, ensuring that everything works seamlessly no matter what your design looks like.

Manage multiple platforms

Many content-based businesses manage several platforms, including various websites and mobile apps. With traditional CMS and commerce systems, managing all those platforms gets rather difficult, especially if the platforms have vastly different offerings.

Since headless systems aren’t coupled, you can even manage multiple websites with vastly different content and billing models from the same CMS and commerce platform for even more simplicity. Even if you wanted to manage subscriptions on your content site and products on your e-commerce site, you can do it without multiple CMSs and commerce platforms.

Simplify team collaboration

With traditional platforms, your design team would have to wait for the developers to finish their work to ensure the content layouts will work with the commerce platform’s requirements. Traditional platforms make the process very linear, with each department waiting for another’s approval. Frequently, work would be passed back and forth from one group to the other.

Headless platforms solve that problem. When everything works independently, your teams can work on their parts of the project in their own time without worrying whether the pieces will fit together. Designers can create exactly the layouts they want without imposed limitations from a commerce platform. It streamlines efficiency and boosts creativity.

Since the process works more efficiently, you can make changes to your content and commerce platforms much faster, helping you adapt to market changes or your own growing business.

Key takeaways:

  • Headless CMS and headless commerce platforms offer unmatched flexibility and let your team design the perfect user experience for your unique audience.
  • You can manage multiple websites and platforms from the same CMS and commerce system.
  • Headless architecture boosts efficiency since teams don’t have to rely on other departments to make sure everything will work with the design choices.

Monetize your content with subscription commerce

Subscription commerce is much different than relying on AdWords or affiliate marketing, but it allows you to have much more freedom with your content to create a user experience designed with your unique audience in mind.

The best way to monetize your content using subscription commerce is with a headless CMS and commerce platform. Headless commerce platforms like Slatwall Commerce and Kentico Kontent will offer your team unmatched flexibility to provide users with a seamless experience.

To learn more about how Headless CMS and headless commerce can be integrated to create unique customer experiences, contact the experts at Slatwall today.

Written by
Brad Gustavesen

I’m CMO and partner of Slatwall Commerce. I’m responsible for building awareness of the Slatwall Commerce platform as well as working directly with agency partners, technology partners, and other services in the e-commerce ecosystem.

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Kentico Kontent and Slatwall Commerce work together.