5 Subscription Management Software Requirements

For every publisher who dreams of creating a subscription website, choosing the right subscription management software can be a daunting task

When we set out to launch the I Like Crochet digital magazine website (the first of its kind) and tablet edition, we knew we wanted to build a state-of-the-art publication management system. We needed subscription management software that handles subscriptions to both the web and tablet editions, and we needed it to handle the entitlement for the orders placed on the I Like Crochet website for the tablet edition alone, or the combo edition that includes both web and the tablet.

This was a daunting task, and many publishers are facing the same issues.

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Below is a list of 5 key requirements to consider when building your publication and subscription management system:

1. Automatic renewal credit card management

One of the big advantages to selling magazine subscriptions in the digital world is the ability to make offers that require a credit card to drive what is often called auto renewal or continuous service offers. While this was revolutionary a decade ago, it has become commonplace now and is used for every form of online subscription product. When we were building the ILC website, it was critically important that we had the capability to make credit card continuous service offers to be renewed as they came around for expire each year.

2. Website issue and library user experience

A key attribute of the digital magazine experience is that the content can be filed in such a way so the users can access the magazine in a traditional linear way, where they start with the cover, the table of contents and then proceed to read the rest of the magazine.

Web magazines also provide the opportunity for the same content to be categorized by topic. In the case of I Like Crochet, a user has the option to access all of the hat patterns that are available as part of their membership, versus simply accessing magazine content by an issue archive. Our research has shown that a deep archive of projects, patterns, articles, photos, videos, or other minimum information units adds tremendous value in the mind of the consumer when purchasing a digital magazine subscription.

3. Integrated tablet edition

Regardless of the great experience of the digital magazine on your website, it’s still very important to give users the option of a tablet edition that has been fully optimized for the Apple, Kindle, and Google tablets. Although the web edition is the universal “Swiss army knife” that in a fully responsive environment is device agnostic, there’s no substitute for the features – scrolling text, embedded videos, full page control – that a talented designer can bring to bear when they know exactly the size of the screen on which the magazine will be displayed.

On a less tangible front, making your digital magazine available in one or more tablet editions brings the gravitas associated with Apple, Amazon, and Google newsstands, which truly convinces users that your digital magazine is really “a magazine.”

At Mequoda, we’re fond of relating the story about the Economist, wherein the web edition of their magazine was great, but things didn’t truly take off for them until they were able to add a tablet edition to their mix.

4. Contrast pricing

Contrast pricing is another element critical to digital magazine success. Once you have two digital editions of the magazine (a web edition and a tablet edition), you can create a pricing structure that emphasizes the value of accessing the content through both media. ILC offers a $19.99 price on their tablet edition, a $29.99 price on their website edition, and a $34.97 combo price for both. As we’ve written about before, the combo offer is predominantly the number one choice for consumers, with 40 to 60 percent taking that option over buying either the tablet edition OR the web edition.

To implement this strategy, your digital magazine subscription management software must support a native, fully responsive web edition, fully integrated tablet editions, and must offer entitlement for Apple, Amazon, and Google tablet editions.

5. Credit card security

The digital magazine subscription management software program that you choose must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Even though our Mequoda Haven CXMS data center is certified to the highest levels of security, we prefer that all credit card information be stored with our payment processing partner, and that we can still manage renewals using a continuous service offer. Further, we require two-way authentication for real-time approvals to manage website access. Our goal for I Like Crochet, and all the magazine websites we build, is maximum automation and minimum customer service, while giving the user exactly the information they need and the access they’ve paid for in real-time.

Choosing the right solution is something you’ll do once every five years or so. And if you’re a publisher who maintains multiple websites, making the correct choice becomes even more important. We’ve watched numerous multi-website publishers trap themselves into a path that was too expensive to upgrade easily and efficiently because of the way they expanded the system in a nonstandard manner.

When you choose the right subscription management software for your digital magazine, you’ll have all the features and functionality you need to maximize revenues.

Are you ready to evolve your print magazine to include a state-of-the-art subscription website and web magazine and application? If the answer is yes, let’s schedule a 30-minute call to talk about the options and the best path forward for your organization based on its audience, content and your organization’s capabilities.

Do you have anything to add, based on your experience? Leave a comment. 

    Andrew J.

    As a new subscriber to Mequoda Daily, have you also addressed the requirements of a “full-spectrum” fulfillment system including web, tablet AND print?


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