Digital Magazine Subscriptions Becoming More Specialized

digital magazine subscriptionsTiers, incentives, and other components of digital magazine subscriptions target types of readers

Do you have any “super-subscribers”? A recent report in Capital New York explores the idea of digital magazine subscriptions enhanced for your most loyal readers, citing brands like People and O, The Oprah Magazine as examples.

Mequoda Members are familiar with these calibrated systems of digital magazine subscriptions, which are typically integrated into tier-based models and contrast-based (or “decoy”) pricing that build up to a publisher’s premium content.

However, you can’t just slap a “Premium Content” sticker on a higher-priced subscription plan and call it a day. As we’ve explored in case studies on the likes of Cook’s Illustrated, finding the best matches between readers and products takes work, but it’s well worth it.

Cook’s Illustrated is a perfect example of a premium content subscription because it rewards its core readers with – wait for it – actual premium content. Foolproof recipes they won’t find anywhere else, expert reviews from America’s Test Kitchen, and the results of exclusive blind taste tests.

For their part, though People, O, and other titles are taking it to another level with digital magazine subscriptions, trying to further monetize whatever makes them unique, desired, and valuable to their best readers.

Check out what Time Inc.’s People is offering on its two levels above print and digital subscriptions:

All-Access, $135/year

  • Print and digital editions
  • Tablet and smartphone apps like CelebFood and CelebWatch
  • People Premium with exclusive stories, giveaways, and perks

VIP, $205/year

  • Three deluxe gift boxes curated by People editors
  • Six-month gift subscription in print and digital
  • Invitations to special events (200 VIP sweepstakes winners participated in the “Oscar Fan Experience” last night)
  • Print and digital editions
  • Tablet and smartphone apps like CelebFood and CelebWatch
  • People Premium with exclusive stories, giveaways, and perks

Combined, All-Access and VIP subscriptions total 500,000.

People puts on a heavy emphasis on events, which we push at Mequoda, as well. And the events don’t have to include the Academy Awards to be effective. For niche publishers like you, digital magazine subscriptions can include events that appeal to niche audiences.

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

O, meanwhile, calls its own tiered plan “O’s Circle of Friends.” Here’s how it breaks down:

$39/year: print and digital editions, a one-year gift subscription, coupon access, and a weekly “behind the scenes” email newsletter

$99/year: a box of beauty products curated by the editors, print and digital editions, two one-year gift subscriptions, coupon access, and a weekly “behind the scenes” email newsletter

$199/year: product-testing privileges, a surprise gift, a birthday card signed by Oprah herself, a box of beauty products curated by the editors, print and digital editions, two one-year gift subscriptions, coupon access, and a weekly “behind the scenes” email newsletter

According to Hearst, O’s Circle of Friends is 10,000 strong.

“To use a tired phrase, it just seemed like a no-brainer, especially for this brand, because there is such a wonderful sort of sense of loyalty that the reader has to the brand and certainly to Oprah,” O, The Oprah Magazine Editor-in-Chief Lucy Kaylin told Capital New York‘s Nicole Levy

“You just have to think in such a detailed and deep way about the nature of your brand and what is the sort of stuff that’s going to resonate with your reader. Oprah’s message is so loud and clear, and she’s such a vivid emblem of our operation, so we were able to interpret her pretty easily … And for those brands that don’t have a face and a persona to go with their brand, it’s just a question of thinking about what’s essential to who you are and what is it that people come to you for and then figuring out what it is they would like to receive in the mail.”

These brands rely on surveys, social media, and email to gauge “super-subscribers” interest.

Have you experimented with plans on your digital magazine subscriptions? Let us know in the comments!

To read more about specialized digital magazine subscriptions, visit Capital New York.

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