5 ideas for digital subscriber acquisition

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We all know it's getting harder and harder to find digital subscribers to sustain your content. You're running out of low-hanging fruit like active and engaged readers who need a nudge. Now is the time to invest in another strategy for finding prospective subscribers.

Email is the best way to drive conversions, and your newsletter program is the best way to find prospective subscribers. Those who opt-in for your newsletters are actively interested in your content. Based on our partners' experiences, we've found those who opt-in for newsletter content are up to 25x more likely to become a digital subscriber than other audience members. They have raised their hands and asked for you to send it to them directly.

To create the biggest pool of quality prospects, use promotions to gain opt-ins. Our partners report nearly 90 percent of customer newsletter opt-ins come from promotions and interactive content. Quizzes, contests and ballots are great at converting your anonymous audience to known newsletter subscribers.

Not only are promotions the best way to collect new emails, but you can also use them to learn important profile data about your audience. Tags like age, gender and location are important for prospective advertisers and can be easily collected on your promotion registration form. You also want to collect interest-based information from your audience to keep them engaged with targeted, relevant content.

Now how do you keep your subscribers engaged?

Promotions deliver tremendous newsletter database growth. But when looking at digital subscriptions goals, retention is vital. If you are unable to retain your paid subscribers, growth will be impossible.

Many media companies struggle with retention because they only run onboarding campaigns for one month. They send maybe five emails in those first 30 days and then nothing until it's time for a subscription renewal reminder.

This is an issue as up to half of all cancellations occur within the first three months of a subscription. With most companies investing nearly 60 percent more time on customer engagement than consumer acquisition, these companies are focusing on only one month of the customer lifespan.

To keep your audience engaged and coming back, you need to focus on the customer journey. You want to move them from being a casual audience member to a paid subscriber, to an advocate. It isn't easy, and very few customers end up as advocates.

Here are five ideas to encourage and speed your audience through their customer journey.

1. Use Periodic Surveys

Ask for feedback from your audience and expand interest tagging data with surveys. You can use feedback surveys or net promoter score surveys. These can be a nice break in the pattern for your subscribers and give them a chance to be involved. You will also gain valuable insight with their feedback.

2. Have Some Fun

Run contests and interactive content to engage your audience. Send Birthday Club emails to help them celebrate, use quizzes and polls to learn more about them, and sweepstakes to thank them for being loyal subscribers!

3. Offer Helpful Suggestions

Use email to provide helpful reminders for upgrades and usage alerts. Things like activation reminders, new newsletter offerings, and reminders to use perks are helpful for subscribers but also a chance to expand product awareness.

4. Reinforce Your Value

Remind your audience of the value of their subscription. Utilize customer data profiles to send curated content of personalized suggestions.

5. Ask For Testimonials

Encourage your audience to tell their friends about (you/your newsletter). Invite them to share your content across platforms and purchase gift subscriptions.

It's important to continue retention-focused emails after the initial onboarding process. Look for opportunities to surprise and delight your customers. These will encourage deeper engagement and ongoing usage.

Matt Coen is the president and co-founder of Second Street, a leading provider of private-label online promotions platforms and partner success services for media companies based in St. Louis, Mo. He can be reached at (314) 880-4902 or matt@secondstreet.com

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