Digital has made selling subscriptions a lot more complex, but it's also provided a lot more marketing tools that can help publishers gain new subscribers and upsell to existingones.
That was the focus of a presentation by IPC Media head of subscription marketing Beatriz Montoya at Digital Media Strategies in London. Her advice? Be obsessed with data and use all the marketing channels at your command.
Stairway to data heaven
IPC reaches a total of 26 million UK adults, and has 900,000 subscribers
Montoya describes how IPC ranks potential and existing customers by how much opportunity there is to market to them - something she calls the "stairway to data heaven".
-- Coldest prospects: These are people who may visit an IPC site, but don't leave any information. IPC may know they have visited, but they don't even have an email address to contact them on. That means they need to....
-- Engage them: The first step for IPC is to get an email adress. that's mainly done by persuading them to sign up to newsletters or offering competitons. However, Beatriz says IPC may start requiring users to provide an email address to read certain content. then they can begin marketing to turn them into an...
-- Entry level: This is the process of getting someone to take out their first subscription. That's done through email and social media marketing, but also traditonal marketing in print and mail. But the marketing process doesn't stop there...
-- Super users: Obviusly the process doesn't stop there. Once users have one subscription they have shown a willingness to pay for IPC content and provided data that can be used to tailor marketing messages. "We are obseessed with getting more and more money from outr customers," says Montoya.
Key to the whole approach is testing what works and what doesn't - and that has become a lot easier with the wealth of data available from online activity. Montoya says you also need to
As an example, she describes how IPC tested a new subscription purchasing page which prioritsed the buy button - a call to action - compared to its existing page which displayed more prominantly a description of the publication and what benefits subscribing would bring.
The raw results showed the existing page performing more effectively. But when they delved deeper into the data, they found the new page was actually more effective at driving sales from existing customers and people visiting from IPC sites, while the traditonal page was better at selling to consumers who were less familiar with what was on sale.
Montoya says that sort of analytical approach is increasingly important at IPC and across the media industry.
"Teams within IPC are changing," she says. "We are starting to hire a lot more analysts and our marketers have to be analytical. The creative stuff is not as important.
"We have new roles merging technical people and an understand of marketing. Having that hybrid role sitting between tech and marketing is essential."