Subscription Website Publishing

Two Email Marketing Tools That Increase Renewals and Revive Magazine Archives

If you sell magazines, you’re finely tuned into your niche competitors. You see them leveraging their digital archives, you see them trying new email marketing tools, and you see them building deeper elements within their archives that seem like good ideas, but you probably ask — is it working for them? Is their work making a noticeable difference to their bottom line?

Unless you can corner an executive from one of these magazines at a conference and ask them to divulge their secrets, it’s mostly a guessing game. Fortunately, we’ve partnered with a number of independent publishers to create a platform that can showcase, market, and deliver a profoundly engaging user experience. We’re the ones doing all the testing on these magazine platforms, so we have a couple of secrets to share.

The fear: I have archives of content, but I’m going to invest in a product nobody will ever see.

The truth: Information products that get used, get renewed. All you need are ways to get subscribers to your archives.

The secret: Two email marketing tools you probably aren’t using: special collections and library previews.

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Using Collections and Previews to Sell More Subscriptions

Your archive is your most valuable source of increasing renewals and engaging potential subscribers. 

Many publishers have the high-quality content necessary to power a successful digital media library. Still, 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 creating collections and previews, these two email marketing tools can transform those archives into incredibly valuable information products that they will use several times per month. 

These two email marketing tools also add new bullet points to your list of features when you sell a print + digital all-access pass to your magazine.

What is a Collection?

collection is a page within your digital magazine library, which has been hand-curated by your editorial team to feature the best articles on a single topic. The benefit of creating collections is to give your subscribers an easy way to find robust information on niche topics within your magazine.

The collection page is visible by all users so that it can be promoted in email; however, paid subscribers are the only ones able to view the articles linked within the collection.

Promoting a collection through email to a non-member may also help them use up article credits if your magazine has a metered paywall, thus increasing their chances of seeing a call to subscribe more often.

What is a Preview?

preview is an advertorial email that reviews content within a collection. It’s typically a long-form email written like a letter, that promotes the collection and the articles featured within it. 

Previews are sent to both non-subscribers and paid subscribers. The difference is that non-subscribers are teased by the content with the benefit of accessing everything they see when they subscribe. Subscribers, on the other hand, are enticed to click and discover the content to which they already have access.

Since collections should be created regularly, previews can be sent at consistent intervals and become a service of membership, letting members know that new content has been curated for their benefit.

Yankee’s Collections and Previews

It’s hard to imagine collections and previews without seeing examples of these email marketing tools, so let’s take a look at how Yankee magazine has transformed their back issue archive into a digital travel library that delights and engages digital members several times per month.

Let’s look at their collections first. They have one called Summer Destinations, which features articles spanning multiple issues and years, that feature their favorite New England beaches, lobster shacks and lakes. It begins with a description of the collection, then concludes with the list of articles within it. Another example is a collection of their published recipes called Comfort Food. Within it, they feature a number of their favorite comfort food recipes from issues spanning decades.


Any visitor to the collection sees this page exactly the same, except for subscribers, who no longer get the call to “Join Now” or “Learn More”. Instead, they can click “Start Reading Online” and they are brought to a web magazine styled interface where they have a table of contents for the collection, and can click “Next” and “Back” to see all the articles curated within it.

Next, let’s explore their email previews. They are written like guided tours when the topic is travel. The preview that promotes their Places to Eat collection begins with a guide to the best diners in New England, and finishes with a list of the other articles in the collection, including the best places to get chowder, pancakes, and lobster.

Speaking of lobster, the preview that promotes their Ultimate Lobster Collection begins with a mouth-watering dialogue about finding the best Lobster Roll in Maine, and finishes with links to articles that will help visitors not only find lobster rolls, but also make lobster rolls, and even compete in lobster roll eating contests.

But getting back to the Comfort Food collection, you’ll see that the preview for this collection spares no drool in describing one of the featured recipes without giving it away—we want them to click, after all. Click the image below to view the whole email.

These collections and previews are all created to engage subscribers, with the extra benefit of becoming a great source of new subscriptions.

Remember what I said before, information products that get used, get renewed. The more ways you can engage existing subscribers with your product, the longer they will stay. These two email marketing tools are the right place to start.

Can We Build a Digital Media Library For You?

We currently operate 37 digital media libraries in partnership with 11 of the country’s most successful independent publishers. We pair their content, audience database, and brand with our platform and best practices to create an incredibly engaging digital membership program that delights and entertains our basic and premium digital members. 

If you have a strong brand, deep content archive, and substantial audience database, we’d like to discuss partnering with you to build a successful digital media library that can power your brand for the next 100 years. Schedule a time to talk with us.

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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