Creative Subscription Strategies

3 Creative Subscription Strategies for Digital Publishers

Attracting new subscribers and building long-term relationships begins with diversification. If you’re looking for ways to drive higher lifetime value from existing subscribers, it’s time to diversify your offerings and try these creative subscription strategies.

Of all the revenue streams that online newspaper and magazine publishers have at their disposal, three stand out as being the most effective: advertising, subscriptions, and affiliate commerce.

At present, publishers focused on generating revenue and achieving profitability are taking a close look at how they deliver editorial content to readers. With so much news and entertainment content available for free online, publishers are seeking out outside channels for revenue generation. Programmatic advertising is one example of a revenue channel that some digital publishers are relying on. However, as news aggregators put more downward pressure on ad rates throughout the industry, more publishers are turning to the subscription-based revenue model.

Publishers made more money from subscriptions than advertising for the very first time last year, according to Pew Research Center. This is a trend that’s just getting going, as more media companies put up paywalls and launch bundled subscription products.

Capturing new subscribers and developing long-term relationships begins with revenue diversification. Savvy digital publishers are finding ways to hone in on subscribers likely to drive high lifetime value. The best way to build relationships with these types of subscribers is to deliver value in unique and creative ways. The path to success in subscription sales involves a good dose of creativity and innovation.

Try these three creative subscription strategies to fuel growth and encourage your readers to stick around for longer.

1. Companion Subscriptions

prDigital publishers are reinventing subscriptions for the online era by coming up with new offerings that didn’t exist previously. One of the clearest examples of this has to do with newsletters. Publishers like Morning Brew and theSkimm have developed entire businesses around newsletters. Other digital publishers look at newsletters as companion pieces within a larger subscription stack. Newsletters have become a great way to drive additional revenue, especially for publishers that are able to sell newsletter advertising and sponsorships.

Another example of a companion subscription product is a product box. Monthly or quarterly product boxes that feature items related to the publication’s niche—beauty products, electronics, sports equipment, etc.—can be sold as add-ons when readers sign up for online subscriptions.

2. Targeting Cohorts

As a publication’s audience grows, it typically becomes more diverse. However, not every subscriber is going to stick around for the long-term. What do your most loyal subscribers have in common? What demographic characteristics do they share? To drive subscription growth, you’ll want to focus on the subscriber cohorts most likely to stick around for the long-term.

Identify the point at which subscribers are most likely to churn, and then work backward to understand why that churn is occurring. What’s happening the moment before your most loyal cohort decides to disengage? Is it a subscription price increase or the expiration of an introductory offer? The results of this analysis will guide your retention efforts as you work to develop more creative subscription strategies.

3. Rethink the Product

What, exactly, are you selling? The answer isn’t always as straightforward as it seems. As you work through these creative subscription strategies, it’s a good idea to rethink the traditional publishing model and reorient your business around what your readers actually want. Digital subscriptions don’t need to be remakes of physical subscriptions. Who says every reader needs to subscribe to the entire publication? Why not offer a la carte subscription packages or charge a smaller fee for readers to access a certain number of articles each month. Popular features, like crossword puzzles, prep sports scores, or weekly podcasts can be sold separately, or as add-ons to a larger subscription package. The sky’s the limit.

The payoff to working through these creative subscription strategies is a change in subscriber habits and expectations. We know that the old way of generating revenue just isn’t cutting it anymore, and today’s online publishers are getting more innovative in how they monetize their sites.

To learn more about all the latest ways to deliver value across the subscriber journey and build more long-term reader relationships, reach out to the digital publishing specialists at Web Publisher PRO.