The past few months have seen a sudden surge in online subscription services – and that spells opportunity for savvy online publishers.
LiveIntent’s July 2020 Customer Pulse Survey found that online engagement is up 84% since March, which is right when people began spending more time at home. The survey also revealed that 100% of publishers report a subscription and membership increase over the past six months.
So what’s the difference between subscriptions and memberships? Not a whole lot, actually. Some publishers refer to paid subscriptions that unlock additional features as ‘memberships.’ It varies between publishers, but subscribers might get access to a free email newsletter while paid subscriptions or memberships might open up access to exclusive events, e-commerce partners, special stories, etc.
Whatever you choose to call them, one thing is certain – it’s time to optimize your online subscription options. Here’s how.
1. Fast track the signup
Since more people are ready to subscribe, make sure it’s as easy as possible to subscribe to your email newsletter. Can people easily locate the subscribe button on any page of your website? Consider embedding an email capture form that is visible in your website’s footer, menu, or sidebar. Can you trim your signup form? Unless you need to know the name of the person signing up, consider asking for just their email address. Every step you can take to make it easier for someone to go from being interested to being subscribed helps you grow.
2. Update your newsletter for the times
If you’re not already producing stories that are relevant to your target customers’ everyday lives in the new normal, consider updating your content calendar or creating a novel newsletter. Our July 2019 Customer Pulse Survey revealed that 59% of publishers who reported a boost in newsletter engagement produced content to inform, entertain, and educate people who are looking to stay busy at home. Focus on seasonal tips, cheat sheets or other tools your readers will find so helpful that they don’t think twice about opening your emails. Or forwarding them to their friends!
3. Refine your serial storytelling
Readers are willing to read what you’re sending via email. The Customer Pulse Survey found a 53% increase in reader engagement of email newsletters. Capitalize on this and keep new subscribers coming back for more with serial storytelling. By captivating readers with an ongoing story, you’ll have them eagerly watching their inboxes for the next installment in the series. This could help increase your email open rates and engagement rates.
4. Create a subscribers-only online store collection
As the world shifts to a home-based life, consumers aren’t just spending more time reading emails and engaging with content. They’re also doing more online shopping. In fact, the Consumer Pulse Survey found that 62% of marketers are enjoying an increase in sales.
Take advantage of this interest in online shopping and turn your subscribers into customers. Introduce a subscribers-only online store collection of either digital products, items generally found in your brick-and-mortar stores, or products sold by your partners. Offer exclusive access to products or discounts that are only available to newsletter subscribers.
5. Offer an upgraded paid subscription/membership
New numbers point to boosted subscriber engagement rates, meaning now could be the perfect time to roll out that paid subscription or membership service you’ve been thinking about launching. Early research suggests that fewer subscribers are signing up and then unsubscribing on monthly renewals or when a trial membership is over. Data from subscription membership platform Piano found churn rates for subscribers who signed up in March were down 17% over those who signed up in January or February of 2020. Keep your paid members happy with exclusive and valuable content, features, and resources they won’t find anywhere else.
Whether you’re just starting to build your email list or your business was built on subscriptions, today’s savvy online publishers are jumping on the chance to make the most of this opportunity. Take action to position your own business to build a thriving newsletter program.
Curious about more impacts of COVID-19? Download our eBook to learn how publishers and advertisers are discovering new windows of opportunity to retain and grow relationships with customers during this time.