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By Caroline Jackson

What Two Dots Taught Me About Premium Content

I am fully addicted to Two Dots. It’s such a well-designed little game and I’ve ate up and fully enjoyed playing all 285 levels that currently exist. I have even paid the app to play more (99 cents for 5 additional lives) or play better (paying 99 cents for 4 little barrels that let me excel at a difficult level).

My ravenous playing of Two Dots made me wonder, why am I willing to pay for this content but so often halt at the paywalls of other websites and apps? How are freemium game creators getting so many folks to pay up while so many other creators are  completely failing to get $$ in exchange for their content, even when it’s quality stuff?

Below are the questions I think Two Dots is considering that us media and marketing folks SHOULD BE asking ourselves. I think answering these questions before offering up premium content (like ebooks, articles, a white paper, etc.) for sale ($$) or exchange  (a user gives you their info or signs up for your newsletter in exchange for something from you) will make for more successful conversions.


How much do you need to give away for free to get something you want?


Two Dots and freemium games like it provide something of value completely for free but they offer something more or better when you’ve gobbled up all they’re willing to give away for free. What they’ve created and are giving away is compelling. So compelling that you’ll gladly fork over a little dough to get more when you’re offered it. One of the problems content creators run into is they do not have this balance figured out for their own product.

Consider what you have to offer and then divvy up the most addictive and unique portions of your content strategically. Half of your best stuff should come at a cost (either a monetary cost or in exchange for information, like signing up for a newsletter) and half should be given away to entice users and prove you have authority and value as a brand. All your content has to be worthwhile though. If you don’t feel confident that you can create compelling content for your ideal audience, hire a qualified content creator.

Realistically, how much will someone pay for this? And, why will someone pay that for this?


Can what you’re offered be found elsewhere with a quick Google search, or are you providing an unparalleled product? You can’t market (and sell!) something that users have no reason to pay for. In the case of Two Dots, I haven’t found a better designed game that replaces the satisfaction and enjoyment I get from Two Dots, so I’m willing to pay a quick and easy 99 cents to continue playing for just a little bit longer. That cost is low enough that it almost feels like nothing, and I have no real incentive to jump off and find some other form of entertainment. Over time Two Dots has made a lot of 99 cents off of me, but those small costs felt worth it at the time that I made each of those purchases.

Be honest with yourself about what your content is worth. Consider focus grouping your offerings. It’s possible you may be too close to your product to see how much it is really worth in the current marketplace. Also, if your content is easy to grab elsewhere for no cost, maybe there are opportunities to create multimedia content or offer unique expertise that won’t be able to be mimicked for free elsewhere. If what you’re offering is too expensive for your target market to easily justify buying on the spot, reconsider how much you are charging. If your brand doesn’t have positive word-of-mouth already, consider holding off on offering premium content at a cost until you increase your reputation.


How can you elegantly build in pay walls that don’t deter users? How can you make it easy for users to pay you and feel good about it?


Make it easy. The more hoops you make your potential customers jump through, the more opportunities they will have to opt out. And they will. The beauty of Two Dots is how easy it is to grab a few more lives and get a few more minutes of enjoyment. It happens in two clicks. So ask yourself, how many steps does it take for users to get through the process of paying for your premium content? If it takes more than a minute or two, you’re unlikely to get a purchaser on the spot and very unlikely to get a return customer.

Hire a user experience designer to help you put your premium content plan into action. They can help you determine where to put up paywalls and how to make buying as unobtrusive to the overall experience of your site. A fluid design will make users want to buy on the spot, and they are likely to return again and again if they are satisfied with the content AND were able to buy it swiftly.


What is the best delivery system for your content?


Two Dots is an app because users are likely to download the app and play the game on the go – at the bus stop, at the bar while waiting for a friend, on the toilet, whatever. They wouldn’t be successful at getting me to pay for content if I could only play on my computer. Alternatively, maybe your premium content lives on your website because you have found users (consider surveying them!) are more likely to want to ingest your content while sitting down at their computer. You need to determine what is the most convenient and realistic option for consuming your content.

Sites aren’t better than apps for delivering content and vice versa -but where you choose to house your premium content needs to be a conscious choice. Consider why you are offering what you are offering where you are offering it before you launch premium content.


Have some thoughts or questions about Two Dots, content creation or premium content? Want to gripe about which Two Dots level has you wanting to chuck your iPhone? Tweet us.

By Caroline Jackson