The Tablet: Key to Your Online Empire, Not Just Your Digital Magazine

Mobile Internet users still want your subscription website

With all the talk about tablets and digital magazines these days, it’s tempting to think of the desktop or laptop, and the website you worked so hard to establish back when those were your only options for publishing on the Internet, as buggy whips – soon to be obsolete.

After all, our 2013 Mequoda Tablet Study found that a full 55% of respondents own or have access to a tablet. Yes, that means you’d better be building a digital edition of your publication.

But it doesn’t mean that your website itself is going out of style. Remember, in the Mequoda universe, it’s a site where you can do a lot of fun and profitable things, such as publish some free content, including a blog which you use to drive traffic; host a store where you sell magazine subscriptions and other products; and even provide a home for your magazine content.

You’ll recall that Mequoda’s fictional publication, Hidden Gardens, like many others, has its magazine content available on its website, behind a paywall, even though it also has a mobile app.

And there are some subscription website models where all of the magazine’s content is free. In fact, at these sites, there’s so much free content that it can be overwhelming, and the hope is that visitors will choose to subscribe to get access to a nice, neat, curated package. There are plenty of subscription websites using this model, including and

Either way, the subscription website is still a crucial cog in the wheel of your Internet empire. You simply can’t sell subscriptions, even to the fanciest of digital editions, without content that lives there generating organic traffic while you sleep, promoting your other products, and yes, selling the digital magazine edition you worked so hard to build.

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Subscription website data to live by

But here are a couple of other reasons why you should maintain – or create – a robust subscription website. In a couple of weeks I’ll be blogging more about digital magazines and data from our 2013 Mequoda Tablet Study. But statistics from that study also have insights about subscription websites, too.

At the top of the list: According to our study, the #1 activity people engage in on their tables is Web surfing: 65% of users browse the Web every day, and 87% do it monthly. Most studies show that playing games is the favorite tablet activity, but our study put that at only 43% daily and 66% monthly. (America must be growing up.)

What’s more, in a 2011 study, the MPA had a lovely number about tablet users: 90%. As in, that’s how many tablet users read as much, if not more, magazine content as they did before they owned a tablet.

The MPA also asked what digital magazine readers did after downloading content onto their tablet … and a full 63% – the top response – said they visited the magazine’s website. You’d better have a website for them to enjoy!

Perhaps the bottom line is how much money you can make from tablet users by having a subscription website. Remember that store I mentioned? You’ll need it to sell all the stuff those tablet users want to buy. We asked our tablet users how much they had spent in the past 12 months on not just apps, but also books, videos and subscriptions, too. Answer? 39% – or, by extrapolation to the U.S. population, 7 million people – spent $100 or more.

$700 million? That’s a lot of books, videos and subscriptions. And unless you want to give Apple or Amazon a cut of everything, you need that website store.

Building a killer subscription website

The tablet, it seems, is a profit driver not only for apps, but also for old-fashioned websites. It may not be good news for the laptop, but it’s certainly better then a poke in the eye with a sharp stick for website publishers.

And that’s why Mequoda builds websites that make lots and lots of money for publishers in a variety of ways. If you want to get in on some of the above action, we’ve identified six models for paid websites, and three models for free content.

Paid models

  • Newsletter: Set up to build subscriptions for a related print or digital newsletter and to provide access to issues of the newsletter
  • Club (membership): Provides paid members with a library of information on a specific topic of interest or a cluster of topics and creates a community of individuals who share a common interest
  • Periodical: Offers regularly updated news content that is intended to be consumed online, primarily in HTML, rather than downloaded
  • Application: Allows access to specialized online software (an “app”) that allows users to input information, use calculators and/or search a proprietary database, and access results
  • Magazine: Set up to build subscriptions for a related print or digital magazine and to provide access to issues of the magazine
  • Reference: Allows paid subscribers continued access to a library of content that is updated constantly with new information

Free models

  • Blog: Blends publisher- and user-generated content that is updated frequently (daily, weekly, monthly) and consistently with articles posted by one or more authors and corresponding reader comments
  • Portal: Aggregates content from outside sources; intended to build and feed an audience; they are specifically designed for SEO, email marketing, list building, and lead generation
  • Social network: A powerful networking tool that relies primarily on user-generated content

Want more information on all these models? It’s free in our special white paper, Building Subscription Websites: The 9 Most Profitable Subscription Website Models. We also go deep into website strategy in our Digital Publishing and Marketing Intensive. Have questions or comments about subscription websites? Let us know in the comments! Most important of all, build or enhance your subscription website going forward to be ready for all the new users the tablet revolution will send your way.

    lupek d.

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Many thanks, However I am going through troubles with your RSS.
    I don’t understand why I can’t subscribe to it. Is there anybody else having identical RSS issues?
    Anyone who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanks!!


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