Voting Poll Results, Plus Answers to FAQs

Dennis Faas's picture

Regarding our vote on February 15, 2012 --

I have read approximately 1,000 comments from readers, along with their ballots. I will provide insight with regard to the findings, as well as address some issues.

This post is approximately 1,500 words. I realize some of you won't want to read all of it and just want the results. So, I would like to begin by saying this:

According to the results of the vote, I am pleased to announce that Infopackets will remain online. Moving forward: all users will retain access to everything that they have now and well into the future. This includes free access to 2 feature articles a day and 2 freeware picks a day, etc. However, those willing to contribute to the site will have access to additional content, as well as access to new and exclusive features to the site. I will explain all of this further down.

With that said, let's look at results of the vote.

Based on the question:

"[Due to a Google change in policy which has dropped our website traffic by upwards of 50% in the last year], our website (Infopackets) will run out of funds by June 1st, 2012. If we are unable to acquire appropriate funding by that time, we will be forced to shut down the site ... Would you be willing to contribute $5 a month (or the equivalent of $60/yr using multiple payments) to keep our website online and allow us to continue publishing?"

Here are the results (at the time of writing):

  • 6,564 people clicked to read the story describing our circumstances
  • Of those 6,564 users that read the article, 2,551 voted
  • 1,759 (68%) of users voted "I cannot contribute anything at this time"
  • 720 (28%) of users voted "I can contribute by credit card or paypal"
  • 72 (2%) users voted "I can contribute by check"

Note: The vote we held did not allow users to view the results of the poll unless they cast a ballot. Therefore, the vote was 'blind' and results were not coerced / skewed. Users were not allowed to vote more than once.

As previously stated, I estimated that we need roughly 1,000 people contributing $5 a month to allow us to stay online and continue publishing past the June 1st, 2012 deadline.

In short: the $5,000 a month revenue would ensure our online survival, as well as make way for web site development (new features). Currently the web site costs $4,500 to maintain as-is, and our revenue has been cut by an estimated 65% for the past year.

Based on the above data, the 792 users willing to contribute $5 a month falls short of the required 1,000 users needed to meet our goal. However, this is a very good start and I have some really good incentive ideas to get more people on board so that we can reach our goal of 1,000 users. Therefore, I believe we can continue publishing and stay online.

Some ideas include a special introductory rate (example: 15% off of the $5 asking price for a limited time), as well as giving away premium software in return for contributions. I will address that near the end of the article.

Explanation of Results / Comments from Readers

First, it's important to understand that a vast majority of our readers are made up of 50+ year old users.

With that in mind:

  • Many users reported that they are either living on a fixed income or pension, disabled, or unemployed. Thus, the proposed $5 a month contribution to our website is not possible. Many of these users voted "I cannot contribute anything at this time."
  • Many users mentioned they prefer a 1-time, 2, 3, or 4-time a year payment rather than on a monthly basis. We can easily accommodate this.
  • Some users suggested that a lower contribution amount will net more users willing to contribute. I will address this further down.
  • Some users said that they are expecting their financial situation to change in the near future and will contribute later. These users voted "I cannot contribute anything at this time."
  • Some users suggested using a payment system similar to that of the Windows Secrets website where users can contribute any amount once a year. I will address this further down.
  • Some users didn't understand why Google dropped our traffic and thus voted "I cannot contribute anything at this time." We have since published a detailed article as to why this happened, and you can read it here.
  • Some users suggested charging $1 or $2 a month ($12/yr or $24/yr) because other websites are charging the same. I will address this further down.

Many Things to be Considered

I've had about 1.5 weeks to review and digest the feedback from users. Here are my thoughts.

When I came up with the idea of using micropayments, there were many things to consider. The biggest issue of course is whether or not we'd have enough people agreeing to contribute, and whether or not we'd be able to continue publishing past the June 1st deadline. The next biggest hurdle was figuring an amount that was affordable for most folks, yet would be enough to make it all work.

I realize that not everyone can afford even $5 a month. Here is my reasoning for choosing that number:

1. First of all, I think our publication is worth $5 a month. Many people agree. In addition to ensuring our online survival, the $5 contributions we're asking for will also be used to add more content and many new features to the site.

2. There are processing fees associated with payments. Paypal, for example, charges 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, plus an additional 2% for transferring the money into our account when they convert from USD to CAD. I live in Canada and Paypal is consistently 2% higher than market rates, so we lose money every time we transfer it to the bank. All said and done, the initial $5 offering now equates to roughly $4.45. It doesn't seem like much, but when you multiply the numbers by 1,000 (for example), it really starts to add up. At 1,000 people contributing $5 a month, there would be $500 in processing fees each and every month.

That said:

  • Some users suggested that lowering the contribution amount will net more users willing to contribute.

This may be true, but after some number crunching, I believe that this is not viable.

For example, let's assume we cut the cost from $5 a month to $2.50 a month. Using the poll data from the vote: let's also assume that out of the 1,759 that voted "I cannot contribute at this time", 30% of those agree to contribute $2.50 a month. (Note that the 30% is based on the 30% that already voted "I can contribute," and is also based on previous marketing history / conversion rates). That said, 30% of 1,759 would yield additional 527 people willing to contribute $2.50 a month.

Now, let's factor in the processing fees. The $2.50 contribution equates to ([$2.50 * 0.029] + 0.3) = .37 in fees, which brings us to $2.13. Now, subtract another 2% on currency conversion, and the $2.50 is now $2.08.

Thus, the 527 users could bring in an additional $1096 a month. To make things fair, we'll assume that the majority of people will want to pay the same rate, and so the 792 users that initially voted they could contribute $5 are now paying the same $2.50 ($2.08 after fees), which equates to (792 * $2.08) = $1647 revenue.

Add the two groups together and we have $1096 + $1647 = $2743. That is just barely past the half-way mark of the required goal of $5,000.

  • Some users suggested using a payment system similar to that of the Windows Secrets website where users can contribute any amount once a year.

This is a great idea, however, Windows Secrets has 4 times the readers we do, which means that a payment system like this would probably work great for them, but not for us because our reader base is 1/4 the size.

For example, let's assume that a good majority of their readers are paying a minimum $1 or $2 a month ($12 or $24 a year) -- and based on the comments that I read from the many users that voted, this seems to be the case. Thus, if we implemented this type of payment system, I believe that it would not be viable. I base this on my last example where I used $2.50 a month in my calculations (which equates to a 1-time payment of $30 a year).

  • Some users suggested charging $1 or $2 a month ($12/yr or $24/yr) because other websites are charging the same.

Using the previous examples, this is not viable. Also, I feel that our content is worth more than that, especially if you factor in the fees involved in processing a payment.

Furthermore, some sites charging $12 a month don't publish on a daily basis (like we do), and their articles contain considerably less content. The quality of our content, I believe, also speaks for itself.

In short, comparing our site to others in this respect is like comparing apples to oranges. I also believe that if you set the price too low, people just won't see the value in the content and won't contribute. This is also a very important factor to consider.

With all of the above in mind, I have some special incentive ideas that will help to get more people on board (see below).

Special Incentives: Introductory Rates, Premium Software, Free Giveaways, etc

We will be offering special incentives so that we can achieve our goal of $5,000 a month in revenue.

For example, we'll be offering a discounted introductory rate -- say, 15% off the asking price of $5, which brings it down to $4.25/month, or $50/yr), plus premium software in return for your contributions, and the like.

We could even bring down the price slightly more, if users decide on a 1-lump sum payment for the year.

We will also have giveaways where those who cannot contribute will have access to our additional content.

I will address this in a future article.

Reminder: for those who cannot contribute to the site: I understand that many of you are in dire situations (as are we) and thus contributing financially isn't an option. At this time I would like to remind everyone that they will still have access to everything they have now (including 2 feature articles a day, 2 freeware picks a day, etc), and will continue to have this access well into the future.

Thank you all for voting and I truly appreciate all the kind comments I received over the last few weeks.

Note that we are not accepting contributions / payments at this time. I will be publishing updates with regard to this in the coming weeks. Thanks very much for your understanding.


Dennis Faas
CEO | Owner, Chief Editor

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