Subscription Marketing: How to Write a Winning Offer-Driven Spotlight

subscription marketing

How to write Spotlight emails that win your Six Sigma subscription marketing testing efforts

In the past we have reviewed how to use the concepts of Six Sigma in subscription marketing and testing and then creative offer testing for subscription pricing. We have shared the success that one of our publishing partners has experienced after launching a high-frequency Six Sigma email spotlight program focused on selling more magazines. This publishing partner saw a 70% increase in their TOPX (total orders per 10K email subscribers) from the program.

Earlier this week, we explored the formula behind winning  copy for content behind a metered paywall—one of the two creative templates responsible for the impressive increase in TOPX that this  publishing partner has seen. The Library Preview is editorially-driven creative that attracts consumers through thoughtfully featured excerpts of paid content from your site.

Today we are reviewing the other creative template that is being alternated with the Library Preview—the Offer-driven Spotlight. A Spotlight is a promotional email used in subscription marketing that features a single product. The idea behind this email is that you are able to shine a spotlight on one product instead of trying to sell numerous things at one time. There are multiple benefits to featuring one item, for example:

  • Creating a promotional calendar that aligns with the topics of your email newsletters
  • Better conversion tracking from email because there’s only one product to track
  • The ability to track different calls to action and copy and see which one performs best for a single product
  • More creativity when testing specific vs. non-specific subject lines
  • Easy A/B tests on copy
  • Room to support your promises with customer testimonials
  • Focus, focus, focus from your subscribers
  • Entices the reader to visit the order page that shows multiple subscription options

Consumers need focus and the Spotlight template helps them to do just that. You are providing consumers with one thing to pay attention to, and not only do you have the ability to add more detail and “reasons why” they should buy, but the customer can quickly determine if the product is of interest and either close the email or keep reading and click through. The single-product Spotlight email allows you to be more dynamic every time you send one out.

Spotlights have a significant amount of variation in both format and formula. Here are only a few of the types of Spotlights you can test with your products:

  • Long Form Offer Spotlight: This Spotlight tends to focus on the great value of the product and all of the access and benefits the consumer receives if they subscribe. The long form typically runs between 900 and 1100 words.
  • Short Form Offer Spotlight: This Spotlight focuses on the great value of the product, however, it only runs between 450 and 550 words.
  • Long Form Concept Spotlight: This Spotlight touts the benefits of subscribing on a personal level—how the consumer will become smarter, richer, faster by subscribing and reading this content.
  • Issue or Content-Specific Spotlight: This Spotlight highlights either the compelling content in the latest issue available to premium all-access subscribers, or a particular piece of content, like a special collection, that is available to premium all-access subscribers. We have found through testing that when done correctly, Content-Specific Spotlights highlighting a special collection often pull better than Issue-Specific Spotlights highlighting a recent issue.

Here are 4 tips on writing a winning Spotlight for subscription marketing:

  1. Choose one product to be the feature of your Spotlight and focus the email specifically on that product.
  2. Ensure that your Spotlight has a strong, engaging subject line and pre-header that will entice the consumer and convince them to open the email to read more about the great offer available to them.
  3. Use the strength of emotional copywriting to pull at your readers’ heart strings to convince them why they need this product to either save them money or improve their quality of life in some way.
  4. Don’t be afraid of long copy, as long as it’s good copy. In nearly every test we’ve run over the past 15 years online, long copy beats short copy. People need to be convinced, even if the product they are buying is only $10.

When testing offers in membership marketing, it’s possible to find the ultimate offers that can be rotated for maximum impact while you’re testing, but  the much bigger emphasis should be on the email creative testing that’s happening simultaneously with the offer testing. High-frequency email Spotlight testing is the only answer we have found to beat fatigue. We believe email Spotlights are where we’re making the most impact on increasing sales, and there’s an added benefit from identifying winning email creative—we’re able to roll the winning copy out in other channels like web and social!

Over the past two decades, we’ve guided more than 300 niche publishers through the process of transforming themselves from legacy print publishers into multiplatform operations that often dominate their industry niche and generate operating margins that surpass those created by their legacy print business. Learn more about how we can help you apply these strategies to your publishing business by scheduling a FREE consultation today.