Subscription renewals are an essential part of increasing the loyalty of your readers to lengthen the duration of you relationship with them. A relationship that is all-the-more important if you have a paid circulation model, as it becomes vital to your revenue model and bottom line.
Renewals can be difficult though. Sometimes current subscribers are lazy, or need reminding. Sometimes you need to justify (again) the value of your publication, and perhaps this time their expectations are higher. And, given the amount of free content available on the web, it's getting harder to prove a particular source of content is worth a readers’ dollars.
How do you not only increase renewals, but actually make this process more hands-off than ever? Pair your audience data with technology to do the work—so you don't have to.
Here are several steps you can take to start building a self-perpetuating subscription renewal process:
Unify Your Database
Many publishers house their data in different places—CRMs, fulfillment databases, email software, and miscellaneous excel sheets—just to name a few. Consolidating these data sets with one accessible system in which each user has a single record is integral for building context around your marketing strategy and future campaigns.
Done manually however, this process is nothing short of a nightmare.
Rather than filling excel sheets with import/export files, cross referencing endless lists, or leaning on other time-sucking tasks, consider a technical solution that can do the heavy lifting for you. When software "does the talking," rather than your manually syncing information, creating a single record for each of your contacts becomes a much more approachable task.
Once your systems are integrated, they can be used to automate your everyday marketing campaigns, for example—sending emails to subscribers three months, six weeks, or ten days out from their renewal date.
Use Smart Content
Not all readers are at the same stage of the buyer's journey, and as such, should not be shown the same messaging around renewals. Control which reader sees what across your website and newsletters to maintain powerful messaging by not over saturating readers with renewal requests.
Using dynamic CTAs, publishers can remind users approaching the end of their subscription to renew, and refrain from annoying those are are not—e.g. "Renew Now," versus "Get Tickets To Our Conference."
This type of smart content can also be triggered by the other data point in your (hopefully unified) database, ranging from on-site behavior, to email opens, forms completed, and more. Imagine creating a list containing all of your contacts who had been subscribed to your publication in the past but had not renewed, and who had also actively clicked on your subscriptions page more than once in the past month—then showing then a special "Welcome Back Special" CTA on the right sidebar of your site.
Segment Your Messaging
Just as a salesperson would't sell a car the same way to a 45 year old mother of four, as they would to a 24 year old single man, publications should also vary how they talk to their readers.
Harnessing your own user information, you can better understand how people consume your content and spend time on your website, then use that behavior to drive renewal requests with unique email content and copy.
Rather than sending one blanket "It's Time to Renew" email, you could send several unique ones, language targeted toward a specific demographic, or topic of interest. Double down on the effectiveness of this tactic, by using referring back to our first tip, and timing these highly targeted emails around website actions or renewal dates.
Leverage Other Influencers
Non-subscription related events or promotions (conferences, webinars, content marketing campaigns) are yet another opportunity to address people when they are most likely to buy. By getting a request in front of readers while they’re actively purchasing or engaging with another offering, you increase your chances of convincing them to tack on another six-months, year, etc. of reading your publication.
Let’s say you have a list of subscribers who need to renew within the next month, and you also have an upcoming industry webinar. By separating out the contacts who need to renew soon, you can create a separate email promotion for your webinar, while also offering those registrants a 10% coupon for their next subscription if they sign up for both. Not to mention, you could also send anyone who had already viewed the webinar an email after the fact, offering a special discount based on their attendance.
Subscription renewal campaigns are vital to publishers, but can be time consuming and often siloed from other efforts. Luckily, this doesn't have to be the case. A little extra time and investment upfront can help you build a system that reduces your daily workload, while increasing your renewal rates.