Digital magazines – whether on the web or mobile – are growing in popularity with both readers and publishers. This year digital is set to account for 11% of total circulation revenue, giving many publishers the positive sign they need to put more resources behind their digital offerings. Meanwhile, some publications are ceasing print production entirely, moving quickly towards a digital-only business model to maintain their competitive edge.
With attention shifting to digital, it’s not just editorial and publishing teams are evolving, but also sales and marketing teams. Do you know how to sell digital magazine subscriptions to your online audiences? In this post, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best strategies for selling digital magazine subscriptions.
The most obvious place to start selling your digital magazine is on your website – yet too often publishers hide a link to subscribe in the footer, favoring that their content and advertisers are in prime position. This may be an okay strategy for desktop, but on mobile, this makes the path to subscription very difficult. Smart marketers promote subscriptions on their websites in ways that are tailored for mobile visitors and don’t detract from the web experience. For example, publishers can include a link in their site menu and/or include non-intrusive ads for quick access to their subscription page.
Likewise, if you’re directing mobile visitors towards the app store (versus a subscription service), make it easy. One of the most popular ways to do this is by including an app banner on your site. App banners will show up to mobile visitors, directing them to download your app from either the Google Play or App Store.
Not all visitors to your website will turn into subscribers straight away, but it’s important to recognize which visitors have a higher intent to subscribe, and set up campaigns that will appeal to them. With re-targeting campaigns you can serve ads across the web or popular social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, to people to who have visited specific pages, like your subscription page, but haven’t converted.
Sampling isn’t new to the publishing industry, but with digital, you’re costs decrease substantially. Instead of sending print issues to prospective customers, you can send them a code to redeem a free digital issue.
Codes can be sent inside direct mail or email campaigns, and be redeemed through your subscription service or via your Google Play or App Store app during purchase. The great thing about the latter is that sampling requires users to download your app giving you the unique opportunity to connect with them directly on their device. Which brings us to our next best practice…
As we mentioned above, users who have downloaded your app to sample or purchase a single issue can now be sent tailored push notifications that promote subscriptions, so long as they are opted-in (iOS requires users to opt-in while Android users are automatically opted-in).
Readers who are familiar with the digital issue are more likely to subscribe and a well targeted message at the right time can help trigger that purchase. For example, if you’re running a 50% off subscriptions campaign, send a short push notification to users who have redeemed a sample in the past 2 months, at a time of day when reading is high. Your push notification can link to a promotional screen in your app which can either launch an in-app purchase or direct users to your subscription service.
Finally, a great way to drive more digital subscriptions is by advertising precisely where people are looking for them – ie. search engines. Publishers can set up ad campaigns for branded search terms or other keywords that promote subscriptions and lead users to subscription landing pages.
Note: Publishers with an Android app can also set up Google search campaigns that show up in the Play Store, increasing traffic to and installs of their app.
What strategies have worked best for you? We’d love to hear your best practices for selling digital magazine subscriptions in the comments below!
CEO at PaperLit (part of Datrix | AI applications group) a tech company specialised in the digital transformation, distribution and monetization of content via mobile and smart speakers, for publishers and brands, with hundreds of customers worldwide.
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