Four Key Takeaways from our Subscriptions Webinar + Poll results!

15 May 2018


On Thursday 3rd May we presented a webinar exploring how leading publishing groups are developing their paywalls and subscription strategies to increase ‘reader revenue’ whilst implementing techniques to attract a younger audience. If you weren’t able to attend The Key to Subscriber Success’ webinar, you can watch the full recording of the webinar here.
From the research gathered and topics discussed within the webinar, we have highlighted four key areas that should be considered by publishers in order to drive subscriptions, starting with incentives…


Incentives are a great way to encourage users to sign up to your publications, the reader believes they are getting something for free and the publisher gets the reader to begin consuming their content.
A great example of a publisher successfully implementing incentives includes the New York Times. This large US publisher allows new digital subscribers access to Spotify premium for free when they sign up for a one-year all access to The Times. This bundle includes unlimited reading across the Times website and apps at a weekly cost of $5. The New York Times as of Q1 2018, surpassed 2.6 million digital-only subscriptions.

Tempting Readers

Publishers are using various methods to ‘tempt’ readers into subscribing by directing them down a content funnel and discounting prices to get the reader hooked. This long-term strategy focuses on gathering reader data, persuading readers to try your product then later down the line appealing to their specific requirements with the aim for them to pay more/take out a full subscription.
The Times uses a specific 3-step process with a 90% success rate if the subscriber meets all criteria: Step 1. Get readers to consume 10 articles
Step 2. Download The Times app
Step 3. Attend an event. (Premium subscribers)
This is all with the aim to deeply engage subscribers, tempting them to buy into The Times membership model.

Optimised User Journey

The primary aim when planning the user journey and implementing changes should ultimately be to reduce the barriers for the reader’s route to pay. It must be made as easy as possible for the consumer to subscribe and access your content, this includes, but not limited to: the steps to pay, optimising for operating system and device.
Apple has made it easy to pay for services such as subscriptions, allowing one-click payment via finger-print or facial recognition. By storing payment details securely on a device makes the paying process simple for the reader to instantly pay – long payment forms are a thing of the past!
Newly launched Google Subscribe lets you buy a subscription, using your Google account, on participating news site. You’ll automatically be signed in to the site, and you can pay–securely with any credit card you’ve used with Google in the past. See how it works here
UX/UI also plays an extremely important part when encouraging users to subscribe. Readers can get easily frustrated if your route to pay has lots of complicated steps or if it is not optimised for device.

Content & Messaging

Arguably the most important element, the content you are creating. The reader must feel like they are receiving value from your publications and are receiving content they can’t get for free elsewhere. The New European is a great example of this – A paid-for weekly newspaper created post-Brexit, providing a hub for relevant targeted content. The newspaper is still going strong and recently upped their cover price, proving readers will pay for relevant wholesome content.
We have found that by providing content that is valuable and unique, readers are more than prepared to pay for a subscription. The webinar urges publishers to ask ‘what can you offer that readers can’t get elsewhere or for free?’.
Chicago Sun-Times recently made a powerful statement to its audience by publishing a completely blank front page. Asking readers to ‘Imagine our city without our headlines’ encouraging them to pay $7.49 a month to support the newspaper. See the front page here.
During the webinar, we asked attendees to choose which of the four areas would be prioritised by them when encouraging subscriptions. The results were interesting, 40% of the audience unsurprisingly said Content and Messaging was their key focus. Relying on the value of their content and how they presented the subscription options was key. Secondly introducing incentives to get readers hooked, hoping they will stay.

Watch a recording of the webinar here or get in contact to discuss your subscription strategy.