Audience Development vs Subscription Marketing: How Specializing Leads to More Revenue

audience development

Dividing up your attraction and monetization metrics can hugely impact your bottom line for the better when it comes to improving audience development and subscription marketing

Adam Smith, the father of economics, believed that economic progress was most possible by the division of labor into specialist groups. That an organization could be hugely more efficient by breaking down production processes into many small tasks, performed by specialists.

As we’ve grown over the years, we’ve learned a lot, but more recently we’ve learned just how right Smith was. As we’ve started managing internal audience development and subscription marketing for five of our clients, it’s caused us to re-think all the 60 systems in the Mequoda Subscription Marketing Network and how they are organized.


If you’re a frequent reader, you’re familiar with ACEM, which is our way of teaching you the order in which a business is built. First you attract visitors, capture their email address, engage them through email and social media, and then once you’ve done all that to build the relationship, you monetize it. Most people go right for monetize and skip over the first three steps, which is hugely inefficient.

In some cases, businesses have an audience development manager who is attempting to accomplish all four tasks, but if you follow the thinking of Adam Smith, that’s way too much for one person to specialize in.

So what we’ve done internally on our team, who manages ACEM for our clients, is divide it into two teams, AC and EM.

AC is tackled by an audience development team, which EM is tackled by a subscription marketing team.

The two teams have similar skill sets, and could cross back and forth, but the tasks they complete on a day to day basis are different in nuanced ways, especially when it comes to copywriting. For example, for A&C, attract and capture, the copywriting is low friction and light because you’re giving away content. For E&M, engage and monetize, you’re going much deeper because the goal is for people to spend money.

Audience Development Team Responsibilities

The audience development team is responsible for audience growth by attracting new people to the website and converting them into email subscribers. They are experts in search engine optimization and make sure every published article is fit to be found in Google using a multi-point SEO scorecard. They measure and track these results, as do they keep track of email capture rates and make efforts to improve those through testing copy, images and titles of conversion architecture elements.Their duties include but are not limited to:

  • Audience growth
  • Traffic and growth metrics
  • Blockbuster management
  • Email capture optimization
  • Google visibility

Subscription Marketing Team Responsibilities

The subscription marketing team is responsible for generating revenue from all the hard work the audience development team did to attract and capture the email addresses of new visitors. To do this, they manage a healthy email editorial and promotional calendar with the main goal of increasing revenue per email subscriber. They actively manage Six Sigma marketing campaigns to find the best performing copy for each product, and conduct testing on order pages. Their duties include but are not limited to:

  • Increasing revenue per email subscriber
  • Six Sigma marketing production and campaign management
  • Order page development
  • Marketing content development

Getting back to ACEM, it comes with its own metrics, which is also divided up between the teams:

  • Your attraction metric can be defined by your Google visibility: How do you rank in the Google search engine? How many keywords are you targeting? How many of those keywords are you getting ranked on? How big is the keyword universe that you’re competing in?
  • Your conversion metric is defined by your capture / conversion rate: How well are you turning website visitors into email subscribers? How many people come to your website and leave only after they’ve given you their email address? Check out our recommended 3C conversion architecture.
  • Your engagement metrics are your email retention rates: How many of your email subscribers and social media followers are staying and engaging? Are your numbers going up, or down?
  • Your monetization metric is your revenue per email subscriber: How many orders are you getting from that email list you’ve been building? How many people click through your email and actually buy something?

Not only is specialization great for growth, it’s good for morale because while there are surely people on your team who like to be the jack of all trades, most people enjoy their jobs better when they can focus and specialize.

Depending on the size of your organization, you might come to a point where you need an audience development team and a subscription marketing team. If you’d like to discuss how you can outsource your marketing programs to us and leverage the size of our organization and specialization, let’s set up a call to chat about your needs and opportunities.


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