10 Paywall CTA Examples for Publishers to Grow Subscriptions

Readers want quality content and publishers need revenue to keep creating it. 

In today's publishing landscape, creating high-quality content comes at a cost. To keep producing valuable articles and stories, publishers rely on two main revenue streams: advertising and subscriptions.

In a recent survey by Reuters of over three hundred publishers, subscription revenue was ranked most important, higher than display or native ads.

For subscriptions to thrive, clear and compelling messaging is crucial. Studies show that strong paywall CTAs can significantly boost subscription rates. Personalized CTAs convert 202% more visitors into leads than untargeted CTAs.

We analyzed publishers' paywalls and messaging with Admiral's Paid Subscription solution, identifying 10 noteworthy examples.

1) New Year Wishes with Subscription Request - Crooks & Liars

holiday media subscription offer

Highlights of this holiday-themed CTA

  • The creative fits the season, increasing the sense of relevance to the reader

  • People make personal growth resolutions for the New Year; this offer connects while they are open to changes and new decisions

  • The copy strikes a positive note, suggesting this year can be better with a subscription. The copy speaks as a collaborative ‘we’ with the reader, in terms of a mutually beneficial opportunity.

  • The CTA focuses on supporting content the visitor loves, rather than ‘product purchase’ language. A visitor may not be actively looking to purchase something, but supporting a site they feel provides an important service, can reframe the transaction.

About Crooks and Liars

Crooks & Liars delivers progressive news and commentary on politics, social issues, and current events. They offer analysis, opinion pieces, and multimedia content like interviews and news segments.

2) Offering Multiple Tiers - Barnsley Chronicle

BarnsleyChronicle paywall for local news subscriptions

Highlights of this multi-offer Subscription CTA:

  • Offers multiple subscription options, which can lead to more overall subscribers, more total revenue, and allows publishers to get the advantages of price bracketing.

  • Studies show unique local content is ripe for paid subscription offers

  • Price points are made clear up front, and can be optimized with A/B testing

  • The CTA footer offers a “Why subscribe?” link to further explain the benefits and rationale for subscribing.

About Barnsley Chronicle

The Barnsley Chronicle is a local newspaper serving Barnsley, England, and surrounding areas. They cover local news, events, sports, and more, providing a local take on national and international stories.

3) Ad-Free Benefit Targeted to Adblock Users - Factinate

factinate offer paid subscription or allowlist

Highlights of this win-win offer directed at adblock users

  • The CTA presents a win-win option. The user gets to choose the experience they prefer, an ad-free subscription, or to view content free by disabling their adblocker.

  • Either option the reader chooses will support the publisher's sustainability.

  • The CTA is targeted to only show for adblock users, using Admiral’s detection and segmentation engine. Non-Adblock users can receive a completely different CTA.

  • Studies have shown that adblock users have higher retention rates for paid subscriptions, as much as 4X better.

  • This CTA footer offers a subscriber login link, the ability to dismiss the CTA, and a direct link to get help. This underscores the desire to help, to find the best value exchange between publisher and reader.

About Factinate

Factinate offers informative and entertaining content, packed with facts, trivia, and lists. They cover intriguing topics from historical events and figures to pop culture, science, and nature. The site also includes interactive quizzes and games.

4) Article Limit Alert with Metered Paywall - HistoryNet

historynet metered paywall limit

Highlights of this article notification and subscription offer

  • HistoryNet lets readers access free content until they hit a limit. Limits are customizable by the publisher using easy tools in Admiral’s visitor journey builder.

  • Once the free article limit is reached, a clear CTA encourages subscriptions. Setting a firm stop rate to a metered paywall is a best practice for paywall implementations. Study: 57% of publishers with a metered paywall stop rate of 5 free articles or less. 

  • This paywall promotes the subscription's perceived value by promising access to "25,000+ stories".

  • Historynet offers a Login prompt right above the button, for any subscribers that may be viewing the page from a new device or browser.

About HistoryNet

HistoryNet dives deep into history, covering a wide range of eras, events, and figures. Their content explores everything from ancient civilizations to modern conflicts, with in-depth articles, biographies, and military history sections.


5) Bottom rail placement and significant discount - Golf.com

Golf paywall cta

Highlights of Golf.com Discount and Bottom Rail Offer

  • Creative works well with the brand and site style.

  • They present the subscription price in comparison to the perceived value point. Buyer psychology studies  show left-to-right placement makes it more likely people will immediately do the subtraction to determine their substantial discount ($100 - $20 = $80 discount!)

  • Their subscription offers test multiple discount options to identify which works best for each audience segment. Here’s a look at a second, golfer-centric, option.

Subscription bonus perk by Golf site

About Golf.com

Golf.com offers an array of content tailored to golf enthusiasts. From breaking news on tournaments and players to insightful instructional articles, equipment reviews, course evaluations, captivating feature stories, opinion pieces, and travel guides, Golf.com is a go-to destination for all things golf.

6) Appeal to Niche Fans: Disable Adblockers or Subscribe - Leite’s Culinaria

LeiteCulinaria paywall CTA for digital subscription offer

Highlights of this multi-option value exchange to support niche content

  • The message is focused on supporting unique, niche content readers enjoy, while presenting multiple options, either ad-free or ad-supported.

  • Leite's Culinaria uses strategic messaging like "We have to eat too!" combining personal language that resonates with culinary fans while reinforcing the reality that a value exchange is required for site sustainability.

  • Options are provided: subscribe and pay for an ad-free experience or disable adblockers to support the site's work through ad revenue.

Very cool: Owner David Leite helps his readers see the value and experience of an ad-free subscription through this recorded video.

Leite's Culinaria Ad-Free Subscription Explainer

About Leite’s Culinaria

Leite's Culinaria is a haven for food lovers, offering recipes, cooking guides, and kitchen tips. They also review cookware, gadgets, and food products, and explore culinary topics, food culture, and travel destinations.


7) Limited-time Christmas Discount - Gateway Pundit

Gateway Pundit holiday subscription offer

Highlights of the holiday discount subscription offer

  • Limited-time discounts can drive higher conversions.
    • 61% of U.S. consumers say that the most important way a brand can interact with them is by surprising them with discounts. - CapitalOne
    • One-third of shoppers report holiday purchases were driven by promotions. - Wordstream 

  • Capitalizing on the seasonal creative catches attention and reinforces that this is a timely offer that may soon expire.

About Gateway Pundit

Gateway Pundit is a conservative news and opinion website offering breaking news, political commentary, and investigations aligned with conservative values. They cover current events, elections, cultural issues, and alleged political scandals from a conservative perspective.

8) Value and Benefits Focused CTA - OMG Blog

OMG Blog paywall for ad-free digital subscriptions

Highlights of the benefits and value-focused CTA

  • Comparing the cost to a cup of coffee helps reinforce the value and appeal to budget-conscious visitors.

  • Three benefits are promoted:
    • An ad-free, easy reading experience
    • Faster load times
    • Moderation-free commenting

  • OMG Blog incorporates humor, pop-culture references, and a casual tone into their CTA copy, reflecting their content style and audience.

  • Rather than a generic “Subscribe” label on their button, they restate a key benefit (ad-free) and the price point ($3). A/B testing the button copy can help drive higher conversions or find the optimal price point.

About OMG Blog

OMG Blog delivers pop culture and entertainment news with a hilarious twist. They cover celebrity happenings, gossip, viral trends, and interviews with a dash of satire.

9) CTA offers a first-month free option - USA Today

USAToday paywall offers paid subscription or allowlist options

Highlights of this USA Today CTA

  • USA Today presents a straightforward approach to addressing ad blockers.

  • They offer two options: disable adblockers to support their work or subscribe for an ad-free experience.

  • Offers a "Today only" option. 
  • This clear and concise approach respects readers' choices.

About USA Today

USA Today is a major news outlet covering a wide range of topics, including national and international news, politics, business, sports, entertainment, and more. They offer breaking news, in-depth features, analysis, and lifestyle content.

 10) Free is good, whether Free content or Ad-free - Virtual Piano


Highlights of Virtual Piano subscription offer

  • Reminds visitors that ads support their access to free niche content

  • The CTA offers a choice of free content or ad-free experience

  • They humanize the motivation, explaining how ads pay for creative staff and developers, all focused on providing value for the visitor.

  • This appeals to multiple visitor segments: budget-conscious, experience or privacy-focused, or those who want to support the people who deliver value.

About Virtual Piano

Virtual Piano lets you play music online with a virtual keyboard. Choose from various piano sounds, customize the layout, and learn with sheet music and tutorials. Connect with other music enthusiasts in the community section.

Growing Paid Subscriptions is easy, and...

...you can start without an investment in premium content.

You can get started with an ad-free subscription offer this week, and Admiral can do all of the heavy lifting.  With Admiral's Subscription Management solution managing subscription growth is a snap. From CTA offers, checkout, account reporting,

Admiral has experience with many publishers, large and small, across content verticals and niches. We can assist in transitioning current subscribers while prioritizing the satisfaction of your website visitors.

Find out how easy it is to leverage subscription benefits, target segments, paywall metering, and custom buyer journeys.

Schedule a demo today.

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