The Subscription Challenge  

We, subscribers, are an awkward lot and despite our digitalised world many publishers still face the subscription challenge. Despite the advance of digital media consumption, many magazine publishers still rely heavily on the casual purchase of magazines from newsagents and convenience stores, rather than through subscription.

The BBC’s Top Gear magazine is a good case in point, with an average monthly print circulation of just over 48,000 with digital at around 11, 000 (2020 ABC data).

At first look, this suggests that the publishers – Immediate Media, only appear to have a direct relationship with under 19% of their total circulation. However, on a closer look the ABC data reveals that 32,000 (54%) is currently received on a subscription basis (combined print and digital).

The Conversion to Subscription Challenge

Retention of the subscription readership is crucial

So on the face of it, Immediate has done a fairly good job at converting the readership to subscription. But this still leaves some 21,000 (36%) purchased as single copies from newsagents or similar outlets. Given that this title has been steadily declining since its peak circulation of 150,000 back in 2013 conversion to, and retention of the subscription readership is crucial to the future of the title.

The Top Gear magazine situation is a common challenge faced by many traditional print magazines and one where tailored, rewards can help incentivise the right reader or subscriber behaviour as part of the overall retention/conversion strategy. Providing, of course, the rewards can be delivered in a timely, easy and cost-effective manner.

Rewards-based approach to the Subscription Challenge

How best to respond to this challenge? The publisher can consider applying a rewards-based approach as follows: 

> A unique QR or Voucher code is printed on each magazine for around three consectuive editions to ensure that the offer lodges in the subconscious of the potential subscriber – more than one nudge is required!

> Entering the code online or better a scan of the QR code a customised landing page opens where the reader registers, providing the required minimum contact and profile details,  checks the required GDPR boxes, plus optionally three or four specific questions regarding interests that could be useful in future content decisions or promotions in the upcoming editions

> Once registration is completed the reader is automatically transferred to the rewards platform to instantly select the game, music, or video title desired

> Within 24 hours the now registered user receives an email, WhatsApp, or Facebook message making an offer for say a 6-months subscription discount voucher, followed by a reminder one week later. Various offers can be tested to find those which deliver the best response.

The Result

One of the benefits of digital rewards is that they can be tailored to the available budget. Also, by connecting with a rewards platform, such as Reward The World, a huge range of videos, games, ebooks, and music is available to entice the potential subscriber to take the leap. With API integration your new subscriber can transparently be passed through to redeem his or her reward instantly. No faffing about waiting for emails or entering additional urls.

Offering digital rewards also provides a contrasting alternative to offering introductory subscription offers such as 12 issues for the price of 10 which can have a negative impact. Ultimately the aim is to attract, tempt and persuade the would-be subscriber to subscribe as smoothly and as positively as possible, keeping the hoops to jump through down to a minimum. While of course avoiding any delays between the registration and the receipt of the reward.

It goes without saying that approaching the subscription renewal date a similar process may need to be repeated to secure the renewal. But once integrated with the digital rewards platform this is easy to do and will already be familiar to the subscriber.