Learn how to implement the best subscription marketing system at your publication.
To the general public, local news websites are a source for information and building connections in the community. Savvy digital publishers know they’re so much more.
Publishers who generate revenue through online subscriptions are using their websites as a portal to their online marketing programs. An online marketing program (also known as a subscription marketing system) gives publishers the opportunity to collect email addresses and ultimately convert new readers into subscribers.
The best subscription marketing system is one that engages readers, captures email addresses, and monetizes readers through paid subscriptions, memberships, and other products or services.
A publication’s website is just one part of a complete subscription marketing system. Publishers will often put up paywalls around their most exclusive or valuable content. All the content that sits in front of the paywall is a lure that should entice readers to become paying subscribers.
Not all website visitors will turn into paying subscribers, and certainly most will not convert on their first visit. It’s with that knowledge in mind that we recommend publishers take a two-pronged approach to converting readers with a subscription marketing system.
Approach #1: Paying Subscribers
Paid subscribers represent the greatest value for a digital publisher. If you can get a first-time reader to sign up for a paid subscription via an in-house display ad or an online form, then that’s the ideal. Unfortunately, it’s not very common for website visitors to convert to paying subscribers on their first visit.
The best local news websites have various mechanisms in place to convert readers into paying subscribers, like paywalls and pop-up forms. Once a reader has agreed to pay for a monthly or yearly subscription, it’s up to the publisher to continue putting out the kind of high-quality content that keeps readers renewing their subscriptions.
Approach #2: Free Incentives
Not all readers are going to convert into paying subscribers, regardless of how exceptional a publisher’s content is. Some publishers will give up on these readers altogether, but doing that is a mistake. Instead of taking an all-or-nothing approach, we recommend that publishers use their websites as a place to promote their free email newsletters.
Readers shouldn’t be expected to pay to receive general interest email newsletters. Instead, they are handing over their email addresses in order to subscribe. Email addresses are a valuable commodity. The best subscription marketing system is one that uses email newsletters to connect with readers and entice them to pay for goods or services down the line.
The Best Subscription Marketing System
Having the best subscription marketing system starts with building a top-quality website that is designed to act as a portal for continued engagement. Although readers will appreciate a homepage that’s loaded with free articles and videos, publishers should also use their website homepages as a place to collect visitor email addresses. Visitors should be incentivized to share their email addresses in exchange for “exclusive” access to “premium” features. For example, some publishers will offer free ebooks and podcast downloads to readers who share their email addresses.
Once the publisher has the reader’s email address, the floodgates open and the publisher has virtually endless opportunities to market to the reader. What’s important about this is that the publisher can market to the reader even once he or she has left the publisher’s website. In this scenario, the website is used to capture the reader’s attention, but a complete subscription marketing system still needs to be in place in order to continue re-marketing once the visitor has clicked away from the website.
Once the publisher has captured the visitor’s email address, he can continue to market and generate revenue through advertising in his email newsletters. Publishers who sell premium subscriptions or charge for access to their archives can go even further, using email marketing as a vehicle for selling paid subscriptions, tickets to live events, and purchases of physical goods or ebook downloads.
The best subscription marketing system is a path, or multiple paths. A local news website is just the beginning. Each path should lead from the website to email marketing to the paid product.
What are you doing to convert readers and guide them through the journey toward purchasing your subscriptions or products? At Web Publisher PRO, we have helped hundreds of local publishers transform their businesses and build new streams of revenue. To learn more about the services we offer, reach out to our team of experts.