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Should You Put Subscription Revenue First?

As ad sales decline, subscription revenue is picking up the bill

Headlines have been brimming lately with news publishers taking back their profits with paywalls and paid content.

A recent May 2019 headline in the Wall Street Journal boasts: New York Times Posts Higher Profit, Adds 223,000 Digital Subscribers. A quote from the articles notes that the Times “ended the [first] quarter with 3.58 million paid digital subscribers. Including print subscribers, the Times had 4.5 million paying customers at the end of the quarter.” They’re well on their way to reaching their goal of 10 million subscribers by 2025.

This new confidence in digital subscriptions as a revenue source has started to turn the heads of magazine publishers who had been giving away premium content online for so many years. Magazines like Wired, Yankee, and others have all adopted metered paywalls that allow a few free articles per month, but require subscription after. For their most active readers, who frequently click on headlines through social media and email, the need for digital subscriptions become clear quickly.

If nothing else, it’s clear that publishers are no longer afraid to charge for content, and subscription revenue goals are at the forefront. And there are three reasons for it.

Most pundits would point you toward “fake news” as the sole reason for the influx of paying subscribers, but we would postulate that the fake news angle is simply one of a set of larger trends that are forcing us into a pivot point as users decided that paying for content is a good idea.

Here are the three things going on that are improving subscription revenue for publishers:

First, we all should be thanking Amazon, Netflix and other large online businesses who have trained customers to think that using their credit cards to secure access to great content online is normal.

Back in 2001, our biggest problem was consumer fear around using credit cards online. The travel industry made the initial breakthroughs with Amazon close on their heels. Most recently Netflix has become a massive subscription marketer with a trusted following for their video library on demand. Thousands of small publishers are now building digital libraries full of high quality articles, video and software tools using a similar business model.

At Mequoda we currently market digital content libraries powered by magazine and newsletter archives for our publishing partners. The irony here is that we as subscription publishers already have massive archives of content that is both incredibly valuable and often unused.

Consumers are telling us loud and clear what they want—are you listening? How much would you pay for that information? Download a copy of our 2018 Mequoda Magazine Consumer Study for FREE instead, to find out how you can improve your digital magazine rapport with subscribers.

The second big factor driving the consumer pivot to paid content is cheap high-speed bandwidth available on many devices. It’s easy to overlook the fact that consumers now spend thousands of dollars per year so they can access the Internet on their mobile phones, tablets and flat screens at home.

The consumer is now picking up the lion’s share of the cost for content delivery whether it’s being delivered or not. If you do the math you’ll discover that one of the reasons that publishing on the Internet can be so profitable is the shift in delivery cost from publisher to consumer. And this trend continues to move in our favor with Internet costs for the consumer and the publisher continuing to decline.

Finally, fake news and the mainstream media coverage of fake news has made consumers aware of quality in a new and perhaps frightening way. This is feeding their willingness to pay for content from a trusted source that has been curated and organized for easy access.

This is not news, as the Internet has always been a content cesspool based simply on its unregulated nature. For those of us concerned with special interest publishing from investing and health to crochet and history, quality is still very much a factor. Consumers want their recipes to taste good, their health information to be factual and their weekend projects to have positive outcomes. Travel reviews that are consistent—because they are curated by editors with journalistic standards—is finally trumping the flood of user-generated content that can be tainted by malicious players of all stripes.

The Internet is both creator and disrupter, and those who prosper in the 21st century will do so with high quality content and an effective and efficient subscription marketing strategy.

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.

Meet Us in Plymouth and Learn
How to Double Your Publishing Revenue

Join other senior publishing executives at the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop—where you’ll learn how to plan, execute, and optimize a profitable magazine-driven membership marketing system. And how to double your publishing revenue!

Secure your registration now, while seats are available and Early-Bird Registration is open.

Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop

May 20-21, 2020
Mirbeau Inn & Spa
Plymouth, Massachusetts

This two-day membership marketing secrets workshop is intense—it’s not for the faint-of-heart, and it’s only for magazine publishing senior executives who have the vision and resources to grow their businesses.

This event is also for curious publishing executives who want the membership marketing secrets for publishers revealed—so that profits, growth, efficiency, and total transformation will power a magazine business that leads the industry and is the envy of competitors and collaborators alike.

You’re familiar with the growth and prominence of the emerging membership economy—you can see it daily as you interact with Amazon, Netflix, or even your local gym. And luckily, magazine publishers can learn a lot from others who have “paved the way” to condition consumers to buy memberships.

This is no fad, it’s a bona-fide trend that you should know about, understand, and latch on to membership marketing secrets for your own business’ purposes.

You should first know what isn’t a secret—having a metered paywall at your website. Yes, thanks to many news-oriented publishers, metered paywalls have become commonplace and are a powerful way to showcase your premium content and convert website visitors into buyers.

But having a metered paywall is not a secret. Who doesn’t know about metered paywalls or already have one for their content?

And simply having a website where you publish content is not the answer to staying competitive these days … let alone blowing your competition out of the water.

For that, you need to attend the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop! You’ll not only learn about the membership marketing secrets, but you’ll also discover all the online publishing myths that often distract or derail many publishers from keeping their eyes on the prize—growth and profits!

When you attend the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop, you’ll be among the publishing industry’s elite—those who are ahead of the trends and will know exactly how to optimize your publishing efforts, based on the latest business intelligence. There will be plenty of time for networking, too, so you can get to know your fellow publishing professionals!

The 7 Membership Marketing Secrets for Magazine Publishers

So that you don’t have to wait until our event, here’s a list of 7 membership marketing secrets:

  1. Web Magazine
  2. Web Magazine Library
  3. Curated Special Collections
  4. Leveraging Existing Content Platforms
  5. Content Previews
  6. Email Marketing Frameworks
  7. Landing and Offer Page Frameworks

And of course, much of the “secret” is not just having a list, but fully understanding what’s behind these secrets and learning what to do about them, so that your own publishing system is in alignment with all these secrets.

When you come to the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop, you’ll learn about all of these in detail—and you’ll learn how to plan, execute, measure, and optimize your very own magazine-driven membership marketing system.

I promise you this now, too—when you register and attend our event, you’ll get 3 bonus membership marketing secrets. And while my colleagues prefer me to hold these bonus secrets back until you register, I can tell you they involve growing your audience, growing customer engagement, and growing revenue.

You’re probably wondering how I can make the claim that you’ll double your revenue when you register for our Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop. Well, Mequoda has been around for more than 15 years—and we’ve helped many magazine publishers over that time, including Prime Publishing, Yankee Magazine and Hearst Magazines … and we’ve counted AAA Northeast and the Biblical Archaeology Society as clients (non-profit membership organizations that both have magazines!).

The Agenda for Discovering the 7 Membership Marketing Secrets for Publishers

You’ll leave this event with a clearer vision and plan for transforming your magazine publishing business. Here is the agenda for the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop:

Wednesday, May 20

  • Creating a New, Successful Membership Product
  • 3 Ways to Build Your Audience Marketing Database
  • Offer- & Price-Testing Strategies for Maximizing Revenue
  • How to Organize and Outsource Your Business Processes

Thursday, May 21

  • Building an Integrated Membership Marketing System
  • 4 Key Metrics for Measuring Your Success
  • Modeling and Budgeting Your Five-Year Plan
  • 3 Bonus Membership Marketing Secrets Revealed

For a full description of all the sessions, click here to download your FREE Program Guide.

This entire membership marketing secrets event will be led by me, Kim Mateus, as Chief Strategy Officer at Mequoda Systems. In 2004, I started with Mequoda as employee #2, and have since overseen strategic planning for many of Mequoda’s publishing partners. Having guided the development of more than 20 subscription and membership marketing systems, my team and I monitor and maintain a robust best-practices database of marketing techniques and business processes that helps power all Mequoda partner marketing programs. My focus on client content strategies is a natural extension of my journalism education and background.

And here is a high-level summary of the entire Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop:

WHO: Besides senior executives like you from magazine publishing companies, the Mequoda Systems team who will join me at this membership marketing secrets event are veteran publishing professionals themselves—you’ll have plenty of time for networking with your fellow publishing executives and with the Mequoda Systems team:

  • Don Nicholas, Chief Executive Officer
  • Bill Dugan, Chief Copywriter
  • Nancy Horan, Chief Systems Officer
  • Eileen Shea, Content Marketing Director
  • Norann Oleson, Analytics Director

WHEN: May 20-21 (it’s NEVER too early to sign up!)

WHERE: Mirbeau Inn & Spa in Plymouth, Massachusetts

For inn room reservations at preferential rates for our attendees, click here or call 833-MIRBEAU (833-647-2328) for room reservations.

WHY: Because the magazine publishing world is fast-changing and keeping up with trends can be a full-time job—this membership marketing secrets event will help you focus on only the key initiatives that will help drive growth for your business.

For a full description of all the sessions, speakers, and the venue for this event, click here to download your FREE Program Guide.

I’d tell you to “mark your calendar” for this event, but if you only do that you might miss out—we only have a limited number of seats for this exclusive event, so sign up right now.

I hope to see you in historic Plymouth, Massachusetts, in May 2020!

Sincerely,

Kim Mateus
Chief Strategy Officer, Mequoda Systems
Program Leader, Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop

P.S. If you already know that this event is for you, sign up right now while seats are still available (this is a small event—we really only have space for a few dozen people). Register now for the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop!

P.P.S. Prefer not to wait until 2020 to benefit from all these membership marketing secrets? If you have a sizable team at your organization who should hear all about this, email me at kim@mequoda.com and let’s chat about accelerating the process for you and bringing this membership marketing secrets workshop on-site at your company.

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