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Digital Magazine Publishing

Magazine Subscription Marketing Ideas for Selling More Print and Digital

We talk a lot about digital magazine subscription marketing around here, and unwittingly neglect your very important print publications. Once you’ve established your subscription price strategy, the next problem to solve is the offer you make in your magazine subscription marketing campaigns.

We talk a lot about digital magazine subscription marketing and often include ideas and pricing strategies for selling all-access memberships that include your digital edition, your print edition, and your digital library. Once you’ve established your overall subscription price strategy, the next piece of the puzzle is to establish the offer you make to first-time subscribers, and how best to promote and organize your magazine subscription marketing campaigns.

Through nearly two decades of testing online, we’ve determined the success rate of various offers, and have found that offering a deeply discounted introductory hard offer to new subscribers works best. If we are promoting a consumer magazine that offers a full-price subscription for $50 or $60 per year, we will offer introductory pricing at $10 or $12 for the first year.

If you’re set up to sell your subscriptions with credit card auto-renew and would like to significantly increase the number of new subscriptions you sell online, here are 3 key strategies that we’ve seen work over and over again, in nearly every market our clients and partners serve.

Learn the secrets behind today's most rapidly growing niche publishers. Download a FREE copy of How to Develop a Multiplatform Magazine Business Plan, and discover how large your magazine business could become and how much of an investment will be required to build your business to maturity.

1. Choose the Right Offer for Magazine Subscription Marketing

We have found through years of actively testing and selling magazine subscriptions online that offering a deeply discounted introductory hard offer beats soft offers more than 90% of the time. If a magazine subscription has a full price of $40-50 per year, we will typically offer an introductory first-year price of $10, with renewal at the full price one year later. Our conversion rates on these low price introductory offers are at least 50% thanks to having credit card continuous service configured on our digital magazine publishing systems.

Beyond the low price introductory hard offer, there are additional offers we occasionally test, just to keep things fresh and ensure that the current low introductory approach continues to hold up. More on these additional subscription marketing offers that you can test here.

2. Lead with Content (Collections and Previews!)

Your magazine archive, ideally digitized into an HTML magazine library, is your most valuable source for engaging potential subscribers. Many publishers have the high-quality content necessary to power a successful digital media library, but they stop at digitizing their archive and make one of two fatal mistakes: giving it away for free, or not marketing the content within it.

Back issue archives left un-organized provide very little value or engagement for the digital consumer. By turning these archives into collections and previews curated from your magazine content, you can transform your archive into an incredibly valuable informational and promotional product. 

Learn how to create “special collections” in a web library that attract and retain more subscribers, and how to write a great digital library preview.

3. Topgrade your Spotlight Frameworks

At Mequoda, we call any promotional email that features a single product or membership a spotlight. The idea behind the spotlight email template is that the publisher is shining a spotlight on one product—most typically their all-access subscription or membership.

Spotlights have a significant amount of variation in both format and formula. A few of the types of spotlights you can test include short-form offer-driven spotlights, long-form offer-driven spotlights, long-form concept spotlights and issue or content-specifc spotlights. Additionally, we’ve created several spotlight frameworks that we recommend you continuously test and topgrade as part of an overall six sigma subscription marketing approach. Learn more about these spotlight frameworks and learn more about six sigma subscription marketing.

What additional magazine subscription marketing ideas do you have for selling more print and digital subs? Let us know what’s working for you, and if you’ve tried any of the above ideas in the comments below.

Learn the secrets behind today's most rapidly growing niche publishers. Download a FREE copy of How to Develop a Multiplatform Magazine Business Plan, and discover how large your magazine business could become and how much of an investment will be required to build your business to maturity.

By Kim Mateus

Chief Strategy Officer

Kim Mateus is Chief Strategy Officer for Mequoda Systems and the Mequoda Systems Content Network where she oversees strategic planning for the organization's 200 plus premium subscription products. Over the past decade, she has guided the development of more than 20 subscription marketing systems including I Like Crochet Network, New England Network and Your AAA Network. She and her team maintain an exhaustive best practices database of subscription marketing techniques and business processes that she uses to advise her clients and optimize the more than 60 websites that make up the Mequoda Systems Content Network. Kim is a frequent speaker at industry events and serves on the board of the Specialized information Publishers Association.

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