Building an Online Magazine

How COVID-19 Is Impacting Magazine Subscription Sales

Virtually everything about our lives has been upended by the Covid-19 pandemic, including the way we consume digital media. Online publishers have seen some unexpected changes, and they’re adjusting their magazine subscription sales tactics as a result.

When the Covid-19 pandemic first hit one year ago, nobody knew what to expect. People across the globe turned on their computers and started consuming online news at a level that had never been seen before. Pageviews and subscription rates at digital publications hit record highs last winter and spring. The accelerations in digital subscription volumes lead to total circulation growth of 3.3%, according to studies by Mather Economics. Nearly one year later, many publishers are still experiencing the benefits of that initial bump in readership.

As we move further into 2021, the question has become how publishers should evolve their magazine subscription sales tactics and what precautions they should take to secure their futures? How can publishers keep auto-renewals flowing, while also continuing to bring in new subscribers at the same pace?

Broadly speaking, as publishers consider the impact that Covid-19 continues to have on magazine subscription sales in 2021, the focus is on three things:

  • Protecting reader privacy
  • Automating subscription renewals
  • Preventing future declines in subscription rates

Protecting Reader Privacy

The vast majority of privacy laws and regulations impacting digital publishers in 2021 have nothing to do with the Covid-19 pandemic. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) have been under discussion for years, and publishers knew about updated regulations coming down the pipeline long before 2020. However, digital publishers are reporting that fraud now is at an all-time high, and heightened security measures are becoming more necessary.

To combat growing instances of credit card fraud and digital hacking operations, publishers are reviewing their existing subscription billing practices. Cloud-based subscription billing platforms and paywall software are seen as the safer alternative to managing billing in-house. Relying on a third-party solution for subscription billing means the publication isn’t storing credit card information on its own servers. These types of advanced security practices can even be a selling point as publishers work to perfect their magazine subscription sales tactics.

Automating Subscription Renewals

Let’s say you saw a 100% increase in subscriptions during the early days of the pandemic. How do you keep those readers interested as their renewal dates near?

Savvy publishers are willing to pay more for subscription billing platforms that handle recurring billing, since they know that automated billing results in greater retention rates. Most readers take the path of least resistance, and they are more likely to continue paying for a subscription than to cancel one.

Top subscription billing platforms are also capable of re-processing cards when they’ve failed, usually due to insufficient funds or generic errors. They can also be setup to email subscribers for updated credit card information when the cards on file are closed to expiring.

Preventing Future Declines in Subscription Rates

Nobody knows when the pandemic will end, or what 2021 has in store for the digital publishing community. Although we haven’t seen a significant decrease in subscription rates so far, publishers should be preparing their magazine subscription sales strategies for any potential slide.

One way to do that is by using the automated billing platforms mentioned previously in this article. Another recommendation that comes up frequently is for publishers to give their readers more incentives to subscribe. Digital downloads, ad-free podcasts, and exclusive newsletters are also valuable tools that publishers can offer as a way to encourage visitors to sign up for paid subscriptions.

To learn more about the top strategies digital publishers are using to secure their financial futures in 2021, contact Web Publisher PRO’s publishing specialists today.