The Reader Revenue Revolution: 7 ways to grow Digital Subscriptions

The Reader Revenue Revolution How Publishers can Grow Digital Subscriptions

In 2018- the year of ‘techlash’, many changes took place, among which the biggest change which had a huge impact on the publishing industry, was the clash between media and political and big Silicon Valley platforms. This conflict gave rise to the situations like- data leaks, misleading ads, damaging rumors, and hate speeches worldwide. 

In light of this fact, the owners of platforms regulated the use of advertisements and posts on their pages. Not only this, but Facebook also announced to lessen the publishing content on the news feed. This was a huge loss for the publishers who were highly dependent on the platforms for the revenue of digital publishing, triggering the realization of the need to make a shift from this culture. 

Therefore, they directed their efforts to find a way to bring the reader directly to their business, referred to as- ’social-first Publishing’. This gave rise to the revolutionary approach- Reader Revenue Models. The Reader Revenue model came out as an extremely successful approach for the publisher, and the biggest example of this is The New York Times, which observed a 28% jump in the operating profit as well as double the rise in the revenue after adopting the model.

The NYT is currently running at  7 Million digital subscribers, following the mantra that journalism and each piece of content are worth paying for. – NewYork Times.

Here are some of the most desirable benefits you can get by incorporating the model in your business-

  • Boost revenue.
  • Reduce dependency on the ad market.
  • Insight into the performance of the content. 
  • Contributes to content strategizing and planning.
  • Helps to strengthen the relationship with the subscribers.
  • Creates cross-selling opportunities.

What is the Reader Revenue Model?

A reader revenue model is a model in which the revenue comes from the readers’ financial support. Incorporating the model can prove to be a great decision for the publishers in many aspects from revenue to recognition. However, there are certain basic preparations that you should do before jumping into the process and making this huge change. 

Factors to Consider Before Employing the Reader Revenue Model in your Publication

  • Check your loyal reader base.
  • Have a profound comprehension of the readers’ expectations and information needs. 
  • Clearly and consistently communicate value and deliver quality to readers based on their needs. 
  • Decide the pricing criteria and packaging strategy.
  • A secure payment gateway. 
  • Have a full-proof strategy to compel the readers to invest and financially support your organization, giving them a justifiable reason to do so. 
  • Have the vision to sustain and nurture the relationship with the reader over the long run.

There are majorly five types of reader revenue models used in the market, such as- the Contribution Model, Digital Subscription Model, Membership Model, Bundling, and Micropayment model. Among all of these models, the digital subscription model is exceptionally popular among publishers.  

“Digital subscriptions would not only be the central driver of the publisher’s growth but eventually become its biggest business.”- NewYork Times

Digital Subscription is a reader revenue model, in which the reader opts for the plan to consume the digital content created by the publisher, for which he makes the payment in the recurring fashion. Many publishing industry leaders, like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post, have already adopted the digital subscription model, in fact, they have over 1 million digital subscribers. If you want to leverage the model in your business, or looking to increase your digital subscriptions, here are some of the extremely useful ways to help you with the same.

7 Most effective ways to grow Digital Subscriptions

  1. 1. Show the Benefits of the Subscription to the Free Readers

  2. Unless the reader gets to know about the benefits of buying the subscription of your publication, why would he like to invest in it? You need to show the free readers what they are missing and how can the subscription can benefit them. To do this you can impose certain access restrictions on the free readers by tying the articles to the paywall- 

    • Restrict reader access by the number of articles.
    • Restrict reader access to premium content

    Display the articles that are locked for the free readers and are only accessible to the paid members. Make sure these articles are powerful enough to create an impact on the readers, compelling them to buy the subscription. 

  3. 2. Provide Additional Services

  4. You can provide your readers with additional services along with the basic subscription package. This not only attracts the readers but also makes you stand out in the market. Try to offer something useful yet unique to the readers. 

    For example, Politico Europe offers an intelligence product that allows the readers to personalize the curated feeds related to the regulations and politics. This way the readers can get more personalized content for them based on their interest. 

  5. 3. Experiment with the Offers and Packages

  6. You should try to create lucrative offers that the readers cannot deny. To find out this, you can experiment with the offers and observe which ones are working better for you. For instance, you can increase or decrease the number of free articles that the user can access in a specific period. Or try out varying subscription charges, duration, and packages. 

  7. 4. Utilize the Most Performing Content of Your Website

  8. The only thing that can help you sustain your readers for a longer time and drive more subscriptions is the quality of the content that you are offering them. So, keep a track of all the performing and non-performing articles of your publication. Find out the types of content that are mostly liked by the readers. This can help you in two ways- 

    • You can design and draft your future articles on the same pattern or of a similar genre.
    • You can use the performing articles to entice the readers to buy subscriptions to your publication. 
  9. 5. Leverage Advanced Technology to Regulate the Paywall

  10. Regulate your paywall based on the reader’s behavior, with the help of advanced technology like machine learning. For example, the Wall Street Journal uses an ML algorithm for its paywall, that assigns a propensity score to the readers. 

    The algorithm observes and measures reader activities based on 60 different variables like the preferred devices, frequency of the website visits, recency of the visit, and the topic of their interest. Based on his activity in each category, the algorithm allocates a score to the reader, which decides the number of sample stories the reader can access. The propensity score can help you to offer more personalized service to your reader, enhancing their experience with your publication.

  11. 6. Create a Collection of Related Content

  12. You can offer a collection or bundle of related print or digital publications. Or you can also create a collection of different publication products like ebook, podcast, e-newsletters, as well as the facilities like digital learning modules accompanied by offers and events. Getting a variety of useful products and services in one take attracts the customers to buy this kind of subscription. 

  13. 7. Introduce Enterprise-level Subscription Packages

  14. An organization has multiple staff, each having the requirement to access quality content. You can offer enterprise-level subscription packages in this scenario, which tends to expand the readers while reducing marginal costs. 

    You can design such packages based on your business strategy. For instance, in an enterprise-level subscription package, you can include print copies, a number of digital logins let’s say 5K USD for 5 logins, as well as event passes. 

Are you Ready to Grow Your Digital Subscriptions?

By now you might have understood the ways through which you can increase your digital subscription. Though you should make efforts to draw in new readers to your publication, retaining the existing one is also extremely important. 

Try not to exaggerate the limitations so much that the readers flee from your publication and go to your competitor, instead create a strategy that compels them to stay longer. The longer they will stay, the higher will be the probability of their buying your subscription. 

Digital subscription could be a great way to increase the revenue of your publication, only if implemented with the right subscription marketing strategy. Subscription marketing requires you to keep a balance between the number of free articles, online conversion, data and behavior analysis, and enterprise sales. 

The best way to reap out the benefit of the digital subscription and increase your revenue is to hand it over to the experts. Our Ace Experts will not only create a customized solution based on the need of your publication but also help you to market your plan to its best.

Vipul Shah

Vipul Shah

Vipul focuses on leading & nurturing partnerships that makes difference to businesses & internal customers. He totally understands and Speaks ‘Customer First’ language and believes in getting smarter, stronger, goal-oriented, for a bright future.

Vipul Shah