Sites to Behold – and Bring in Customers

SIPA’s New Report Gives All The Latest on Subscription Websites That Sell

Here are snippets from the much-anticipated, just-released, 53-page SIPA Management Report titled Building Subscription Websites That Sell: A Marketing Perspective. The report features six archetypes—newsletters, magazines, reference, application, membership and periodical—numerous case studies, an evaluation device and a conclusion. It can be found on the Members Only section of the SIPA Website.

In the newsletter section:
While the credit-card upfront strategy obviously brings fewer people into the free-trial funnel, those that do accept have qualified themselves and are not simply “a bunch of tire kickers.” Publishers that implement a free trial without requiring a credit card get more people into the funnel, but the conversion rate is a lot lower. That may be fine if the content is “nice to know” rather than “must have” information.

In the magazine section:
The large online community created by the forums and blogs, however, is the real strength of the Website. The audience loves to contribute to forums to share what they’ve learned and what they’ve made, post their projects, and participate in contests. “We don’t have a lot of widgets on the site,” says Reilly. “Interactively, we mainly have our forums and the opportunity to comment on the posts, as well as the sponsored contests.”

In the reference section:
The content on also includes the Creative Inspirations series, a collection of exclusive documentaries about top creative pros. The series allows members to get an inside look at how the experts think, how they work, and how they got to be where they are today. “Nothing inspires creative people as much as other creative people,” Hanson says. “These are some of the most popular videos among our subscriber base.”

In the application section:
“Our strategy has been to take all the material we’ve been providing for years and years on paper or other formats, put it on the Web, and then provide a navigation system so our subscribers can find what they need whether they’re analyzing a problem, doing training, or creating a job description,” explains [Bob] Brady.

In the membership section:
The most important functionality of a membership Website is to be able to search, browse, store and retrieve data from the online database—accessible, for example, by geography, job title or industry sector in the case of employment sites or by certain personal qualities in the case of dating sites. The user can filter the information to access only what he or she deems relevant at the time of the search.

In the periodical section:
Periodical Website publishers continue to seek online advertising revenue, but that market appears to be grossly overestimated except for isolated cases where the content and the advertising are extremely targeted. Many publishers, therefore, are turning (or returning, as in the case of The Wall Street Journal) to a paid-subscription model and simultaneously embracing the new digital reading devices—Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iPad and others—a strategy that is continuing to evolve.

In the conclusion:
Subscription Websites may fail, however, if they have too much information or are confusing (e.g., putting several publications on a single subscription Website), the functionality isn’t good, they ignore the importance of user activity—comments and forums that generate huge amounts of content—or they cost too much to maintain.

Authors Phil Ash, publisher of KCI Investing and the National Institute of Business Management, and Jane Zarem, a contributor to Folio: and Audience Development magazines and a senior editor at Mequoda, put together this excellent guide for companies big and small that want to monetize their Websites to full capability.

The report makes its debut today in the member section of the SIPA Website. This is the second in a series of new SIPA management reports, following the SIPA Independent Publishers Legal Handbook.

Sign up for a free trial membership
and get access to this report!

Building Subscription Websites That Sell: A Marketing Perspective
is free and accessible only to members.
As a member, you’ll also get the monthly Hotline newsletter,
Conference handouts and other Management Reports.
You’ve got nothing to lose and a lot to gain!
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Learn how to choose the best subscription pricing & single-copy pricing strategy for your subscription websites & subscription apps when you download a FREE copy of How to Use Contrast Pricing to Increase Subscription Revenue.

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