How to Upsell Print-Only Subscribers into More Expensive Digital Packages

Learn everything from pricing to copy platforms, and watch the print-to-digital upgrades roll in

The beauty of the digital era in publishing is that it doesn’t just give you a new option for your existing audience to choose.

It delivers the opportunity to expand that audience, create several new premium products, drive more orders per promotion, and generate higher revenues via higher-priced options that publishers have never before been able to offer.

It almost sounds too good to be true, but we promise it isn’t. Mequoda has all the details, which are part of our upcoming Digital Magazine Publishing Workshop.

One of the critical issues we discuss at the workshop is what consumers really want from you. And as is often the case with consumers – and contrary to what publishers often believe – they don’t necessarily want to make choices among your products.

This has led some publishers to bundle all their magazine editions – print, digital, web (if available) and archive – for one all-access price. Other publishers  insist on pricing all three things discretely.

But as the title of this post indicates, Mequoda has discovered that publishers can meet consumers’ needs and, at the same time, make exponentially more money. As we’ll also discuss in the workshop, you can do this by offering print and digital editions, along with your archive of past issues, all priced separately, plus a bundle of all three for just slightly more than the most expensive of your individual products.

One of the most rewarding things about studying this phenomenon, which we refer to as contrast pricing, is watching the number of orders and the revenues pile up when you switch to this pricing model.

Register for the Digital Magazine Publishing Workshop now for the opportunity to dig into this data and see how it can grow your business!

Executing the strategy

Once you have your bundles and prices established, the next step is to actually promote them to your existing audience. Mequoda starts with an 18-effort renewal series that we introduced at TIME in 1995 – the basics never change! – and we’ve upgraded it for the specific purpose of promoting digital products to your print audience.

All efforts are sent in print and email, to ensure that every subscriber receives them, whether or not you have email addresses for your entire list. At an early stage in the renewal process, subscribers are offered only the full bundle, or combo package. The savvy subscribers who renew early get instant access to the digital editions for the remainder of their current subscription – an appealing incentive indeed.

At the same time, these subscribers are switched over auto-renewal via credit card, which should always be your goal going forward.

Later efforts offer a choice of editions, with the contrast pricing strategy clearly in play. Finally, if they haven’t jumped at a digital edition by the latest efforts, they’re probably determined to remain old-school, so the only offer is the print edition. As time goes by, of course, even the most devout Luddite becomes gradually accustomed to digital reading material, so your efforts may bear fruit a year later, too.

Again, we offer a deep dive into details, such as timing, premiums and copy platforms for this series, at the workshop. Register for it now to ensure that you reserve your spot!

Get all the details at the Digital Magazine Publishing Workshop

All of the above is a summary of our detailed method for marketing your products in the digital age. If you need more, we can deliver it: We teach it all in our one-day Digital Magazine Publishing Workshop, this year taking place on August 2 in Boston, when my executive team and I will share all of our strategies with you, far beyond marketing campaign management.

Because we teach it all in a single day, there’s no need for long hotel stays and no wasted time. Reservations for this one-day workshop are now being taken on a first-come, first-served basis.

Here’s what you’ll learn at the Digital Magazine Publishing Workshop:

What American Magazine Readers Really Want to Buy

As the author of the nation’s largest multi-year magazine study, The Mequoda Magazine Media Study, we’ll show you that consumers still value print products, and for which types of magazines they specifically prefer it. You’ll hear about the attributes of app-based magazines that appeal to consumers. You’ll also learn that consumers are divided on which platform is valuable to them – underscoring the need for triple platform publishing. You even hear about trends in spending for both print and digital editions.

This data will drive your decision-making going forward and provide a foundation for every publisher at this event to understand how Americans view magazine media and their consumption preferences. You’ll use our study’s results in designing products consumers will buy, read and renew.

And if you have any questions about this data, the author of the study will be on hand to answer them, interpret the data in the context of their experience working with hundreds of magazine publishers, and help you understand what it all means and what you should do about it.

The Five Magazine Editions You Can and Should Create 

You already know you need a digital edition of your magazine in order to make your content available when, where and how your readers want it. But did you realize that “digital” means different things to different people? It means you must have an iPad, Kindle Fire and Google Play edition.

As mentioned above, Mequoda has identified a full five editions of your magazine that you must publish to survive in the modern era: print, digital editions on the Apple, Amazon and Google platforms, and web. Never heard of a web edition?  It’s the most flexible, most widely available, most promotable, deepest version of a magazine – and 95% publishers don’t have one yet. The remaining 5% (The Economist, Time, The New Yorker, and our clients Biblical Archaeology Review and Countryside among them) know it’s the most forward-thinking edition possible: available on all devices, searchable, and the only edition in which you can directly promote specific articles from social media, search engines and email. We’ll discuss best practices for creating, delivering and marketing this edition.

We’ll also discuss how print media is still not only viable, but critical in a successful publishing system. Don’t forget, it’s not just about consumption but about distribution; without your print edition, you can’t keep your product legacy newsstand channels such as bookstores, grocery stores and specialty stores. Similarly, your three digital editions keep your brand in front of consumers on those platforms.

We’ll also discuss the attributes of each of these five editions, what makes each one special and how to market each one. Please believe me: It’s not as hard as it seems.

The Prices, Offers, and Incentives You Must Test Now

In this session, we put it all together for you from A to Z. We’ll share our data on decoy pricing and give you models that demonstrate the magic it delivers, discuss the details of orders and renewals for the different offers on the spectrum mentioned above, and show you how publishers exactly like you have profited from the strategies described here. In short, there’s much more to offers, pricing and incentives than there is room here to discuss them. How do auto-renewals impact renewal rates? Is there hope for a traditional pricing model? Find out in this session.

We’ll also walk you through a 13-week test program built on the same strategies we’ve used to build direct mail campaigns for decades. By the end of this session, you’ll understand all the variables and offer construction that still work in the digital age: hard and soft offers, introductory pricing, auto renewal, payment gateways. You’ll also learn the best practices that are required in a world where credit card continuous service is becoming the norm.

How to Run an Integrated Multiplatform Marketing Campaign

Now that I’ve described the overall concept of a Mequoda digital marketing campaign above, you may be wondering how it all works in real life. That’s just one of the secrets we share in this session: How our case study client improved revenues 6X in three years.

We’ll also show you which offers you can use, based on the options we discuss in the previous session, so you know what to test as you get started. Our approach to a full year of marketing allows you to run 52 campaigns efficiently, fights fatigue and maximizes overall circulation, revenues and retention rates.

How to Upsell Print-Only Subscribers into More Expensive Digital Packages

The single biggest revenue opportunity available to publishers switching from print-only to a multi-edition magazine system for print, tablet and web editions lies in upselling your legacy subscribers into a multi-edition (or as we call it at Mequoda, multiplatform) package.

Based on the fundamental renewal principles that our executive team has used for decades, we’ve created an 18-effort postal and email renewal program in which we use offer, price, platform and incentives to maximize the number of customers that will choose to upgrade from being print-only postal renewals to multiplatform, continuous-service customers who now enjoy unlimited access to your premium content on all five platforms – and renewal mailing costs become obsolete!

You’ll get the same renewal program, upgraded for the digital era, that we introduced at TIME in 1995, and used at ComputerworldModern DrummerPC World, Consumer Reports and all of our highly successful niche publishing clients. You’ll learn exactly how to implement it and how to work smoothly with the leading fulfillment companies.

A Step-by-Step Roadmap for Making the Digital Transition

We know we’re proposing a significant change in the way you create, distribute and market your magazines. We know it sounds daunting – and we don’t recommend that publishers cherry-pick our strategies, or try to execute the Mequoda Method without the training we deliver in this workshop. So we’ll take all of the strategies you learned earlier and lay out a project timeline in which we identify all the milestones necessary for your transformation journey.

You’ll follow along through all the steps necessary for changing your production flow, and we’ll discuss how new bonus content like extra articles, videos and slideshows can be incorporated into your digital offerings.

We’ll also walk you through the process of becoming partners with Apple, Amazon, and Google; how to select the right software; and how to troubleshoot the approval process.

You’ll even get a timeline for building a magazine website featuring all the features and functionality required for your profitable new system, accessible on all screen sizes and read in linear fashion. Everything from generating new issue announcements to promoting individual articles is included in this master schedule for your entire production, distribution and marketing programs.

12 Case Studies of Publishers Like You Who Have Blazed the Trail to Success

At end of the day, all of this theory is great – but we don’t stop there. You take home a list of 12 mentors you can follow as they execute this revolutionary publishing system every day, from Countryside to The Economist, from Loss Prevention to The Dark Report.

We’ll discuss the product offerings for both B2B and B2C publishers on our mentor list, studying their platforms via a multiplatform brand wheel, and discuss content strategy, audience development channels, pricing and revenue strategies.

All of our case studies will be from live, cutting-edge mentors that you can follow after the program to use as a benchmark set for setting your own policies and for developing test ideas – so you won’t be left behind as the new magazine world continues to develop.

This is also a great opportunity for burning questions and drilling down into the way our examples apply to you.

You know that the magazine industry is evolving at an explosive rate, and that traditional publishers must keep up to thrive, or even survive. At the Digital Magazine Publishing Workshop on August 2, 2016, you’ll learn the strategies that hundreds of publishers already know, and that thousands more will be embracing in the years to come.

I urge you to register now, before all seats are filled. As much as we’d like to offer this workshop to more publishers, we just don’t have the time as we always put the needs of our 20+ Gold Member Organizations first – clients who have learned the Mequoda Method and value our help in implementing it for them.


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