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What is a Subscription Marketing System?

A subscription marketing system is the only good way to guide visitors through your product catalog

Subscription Marketing System

Did you know that a sunflower is not just one flower, but more than a thousand small flowers, all stuck together on one head and a single stalk? Even what seems like the petals of a sunflower are considered individual ray flowers.

You might consider a publisher’s website the same way. You see TIME.com and think, oh that’s TIME’s website. But in fact, it’s a subscription marketing system. The site isn’t built just to give away free content, it’s built to collect new subscribers and generate revenue. Its web magazine alone, time.com/magazine, is just one petal of the sunflower that is attracting and converting new magazine subscribers, both free (email) and paid (digital and print).

As you probably know, our sole focus is to build the best subscription marketing system for publishers. We want publishers to have a system that attracts visitors, captures their email address, engages them with great content, and monetizes them through subscriptions. A website doesn’t do all of the above, but a subscription marketing system does.

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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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Starting with a portal for your subscription marketing system

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At the very base of a subscription marketing system is a Portal.

This is what you probably think of when you see a magazine, newsletter, or newspaper website. The homepage of the Portal is covered with free articles and news stories.

Additionally, they may have another area of their website where they offer freebies. These are free downloads used to capture a user’s email address.

With just these two content business models (just two petals on the sunflower), you have the beginning of a subscription marketing system. Some media companies only have these two content models, because their “subscription” ends at email subscriptions—they’re ad-driven.

However, paid magazines have, at the very least, a web magazine and library. This is the area of the website that comes after someone has been introduced to content via the portal and freebies and now wants to subscribe. And once they have subscribed, they use this petal of the sunflower to access their magazine along with back issues.

And many publishers stop at having a portal, freebies and a web magazine.

But the most profitable publishers we know have many more petals to their sunflower. They may also have a live event business model, and they might sell courses, or  books, or any other of the most popular business models. And in order to do all of this successfully, they need a subscription marketing system—a path that’s in place to guide visitors and convert them into subscribers and buyers.

How a subscription marketing system can be used

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When we launched the Mequoda CMS for a craft magazine publisher several years ago, their circulation had been in a slow decline for almost a decade. At their height they had 100k paid circulation, but by the time they came to us they were down to 85k. They were profitable still, but clearly heading in the wrong direction.

It’s the same old story we always hear. Newsstand sales were down, which lead to a decrease in insert cards in the newsstands, and their direct mail program had been reduced by about 60% from 10 years earlier.

They weren’t clueless though, in fact far from it. They knew that they were willing to spend $35 to get a new subscriber to a $35 product. They would spend first-year profitability and on a spend of $320,000 over the course of five years, they were making money on user revenues around $385,000. So they were profitable. It’s not unusual for a publisher to use this cutoff on spending to make back what you’ll earn in renewals.

Now enter the Mequoda System built with our Haven CMS, and 5 years later they stopped doing direct mail entirely. In fact, they were now generating more than 20,000 new subscriptions annually at less than what they were spending on direct mail in the past. Over that same 5 year period, it reversed the decline and circulation was now at 125,000, an all time high, which is higher than their 100K from before. Marketing spend has been reduced in half to $180,000, while user revenues doubled to $735,000. So costs went down and profits went up.

The only major change they made was moving to a Mequoda subscription marketing system. The system gave them and their team the structure, while consulting with us gave them the roadmap and discipline to use their system to its fullest. With their cost savings on direct mail, our craft publisher allocated 40% of their savings to a new product line, and 39% of their revenue was now magazine subscriptions, while the rest was diversified into other products like events, books and sponsorships. They generated 1.1 million in product and sponsorship sales when neither revenue stream even existed before. All in, they generated about $1.8 million on a $450,000 spend.

Like a sunflower, which moves throughout the day to track the sun’s movement, we must always have our eye on the prize. How are you attracting new visitors and following them through the process to guide them toward your products?

Over the past two decades, we’ve guided more than 300 niche publishers through the process of transforming themselves from legacy print publishers into multiplatform operations that often dominate their industry niche and generate operating margins that surpass those created by their legacy print business. Learn more about how we can help you apply these strategies to your publishing business by scheduling a FREE consultation today.

Meet Us in Plymouth and Learn
How to Double Your Publishing Revenue

Join other senior publishing executives at the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop—where you’ll learn how to plan, execute, and optimize a profitable magazine-driven membership marketing system. And how to double your publishing revenue!

Secure your registration now, while seats are available and Early-Bird Registration is open.

Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop

May 20-21, 2020
Mirbeau Inn & Spa
Plymouth, Massachusetts

This two-day membership marketing secrets workshop is intense—it’s not for the faint-of-heart, and it’s only for magazine publishing senior executives who have the vision and resources to grow their businesses.

This event is also for curious publishing executives who want the membership marketing secrets for publishers revealed—so that profits, growth, efficiency, and total transformation will power a magazine business that leads the industry and is the envy of competitors and collaborators alike.

You’re familiar with the growth and prominence of the emerging membership economy—you can see it daily as you interact with Amazon, Netflix, or even your local gym. And luckily, magazine publishers can learn a lot from others who have “paved the way” to condition consumers to buy memberships.

This is no fad, it’s a bona-fide trend that you should know about, understand, and latch on to membership marketing secrets for your own business’ purposes.

You should first know what isn’t a secret—having a metered paywall at your website. Yes, thanks to many news-oriented publishers, metered paywalls have become commonplace and are a powerful way to showcase your premium content and convert website visitors into buyers.

But having a metered paywall is not a secret. Who doesn’t know about metered paywalls or already have one for their content?

And simply having a website where you publish content is not the answer to staying competitive these days … let alone blowing your competition out of the water.

For that, you need to attend the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop! You’ll not only learn about the membership marketing secrets, but you’ll also discover all the online publishing myths that often distract or derail many publishers from keeping their eyes on the prize—growth and profits!

When you attend the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop, you’ll be among the publishing industry’s elite—those who are ahead of the trends and will know exactly how to optimize your publishing efforts, based on the latest business intelligence. There will be plenty of time for networking, too, so you can get to know your fellow publishing professionals!

The 7 Membership Marketing Secrets for Magazine Publishers

So that you don’t have to wait until our event, here’s a list of 7 membership marketing secrets:

  1. Web Magazine
  2. Web Magazine Library
  3. Curated Special Collections
  4. Leveraging Existing Content Platforms
  5. Content Previews
  6. Email Marketing Frameworks
  7. Landing and Offer Page Frameworks

And of course, much of the “secret” is not just having a list, but fully understanding what’s behind these secrets and learning what to do about them, so that your own publishing system is in alignment with all these secrets.

When you come to the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop, you’ll learn about all of these in detail—and you’ll learn how to plan, execute, measure, and optimize your very own magazine-driven membership marketing system.

I promise you this now, too—when you register and attend our event, you’ll get 3 bonus membership marketing secrets. And while my colleagues prefer me to hold these bonus secrets back until you register, I can tell you they involve growing your audience, growing customer engagement, and growing revenue.

You’re probably wondering how I can make the claim that you’ll double your revenue when you register for our Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop. Well, Mequoda has been around for more than 15 years—and we’ve helped many magazine publishers over that time, including Prime Publishing, Yankee Magazine and Hearst Magazines … and we’ve counted AAA Northeast and the Biblical Archaeology Society as clients (non-profit membership organizations that both have magazines!).

The Agenda for Discovering the 7 Membership Marketing Secrets for Publishers

You’ll leave this event with a clearer vision and plan for transforming your magazine publishing business. Here is the agenda for the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop:

Wednesday, May 20

  • Creating a New, Successful Membership Product
  • 3 Ways to Build Your Audience Marketing Database
  • Offer- & Price-Testing Strategies for Maximizing Revenue
  • How to Organize and Outsource Your Business Processes

Thursday, May 21

  • Building an Integrated Membership Marketing System
  • 4 Key Metrics for Measuring Your Success
  • Modeling and Budgeting Your Five-Year Plan
  • 3 Bonus Membership Marketing Secrets Revealed

For a full description of all the sessions, click here to download your FREE Program Guide.

This entire membership marketing secrets event will be led by me, Kim Mateus, as Chief Strategy Officer at Mequoda Systems. In 2004, I started with Mequoda as employee #2, and have since overseen strategic planning for many of Mequoda’s publishing partners. Having guided the development of more than 20 subscription and membership marketing systems, my team and I monitor and maintain a robust best-practices database of marketing techniques and business processes that helps power all Mequoda partner marketing programs. My focus on client content strategies is a natural extension of my journalism education and background.

And here is a high-level summary of the entire Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop:

WHO: Besides senior executives like you from magazine publishing companies, the Mequoda Systems team who will join me at this membership marketing secrets event are veteran publishing professionals themselves—you’ll have plenty of time for networking with your fellow publishing executives and with the Mequoda Systems team:

  • Don Nicholas, Chief Executive Officer
  • Bill Dugan, Chief Copywriter
  • Nancy Horan, Chief Systems Officer
  • Eileen Shea, Content Marketing Director
  • Norann Oleson, Analytics Director

WHEN: May 20-21 (it’s NEVER too early to sign up!)

WHERE: Mirbeau Inn & Spa in Plymouth, Massachusetts

For inn room reservations at preferential rates for our attendees, click here or call 833-MIRBEAU (833-647-2328) for room reservations.

WHY: Because the magazine publishing world is fast-changing and keeping up with trends can be a full-time job—this membership marketing secrets event will help you focus on only the key initiatives that will help drive growth for your business.

For a full description of all the sessions, speakers, and the venue for this event, click here to download your FREE Program Guide.

I’d tell you to “mark your calendar” for this event, but if you only do that you might miss out—we only have a limited number of seats for this exclusive event, so sign up right now.

I hope to see you in historic Plymouth, Massachusetts, in May 2020!

Sincerely,

Kim Mateus
Chief Strategy Officer, Mequoda Systems
Program Leader, Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop

P.S. If you already know that this event is for you, sign up right now while seats are still available (this is a small event—we really only have space for a few dozen people). Register now for the Membership Marketing Secrets: 2020 Workshop!

P.P.S. Prefer not to wait until 2020 to benefit from all these membership marketing secrets? If you have a sizable team at your organization who should hear all about this, email me at kim@mequoda.com and let’s chat about accelerating the process for you and bringing this membership marketing secrets workshop on-site at your company.

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