At Limio, we have been at the centre of some of the biggest shift in the media industry, from advertising to subscriptions. Every week, it seems a new company announces their intent to monetise their audiences with subscriptions.
However, talk and action are two different things. It is not easy to launch a subscription business. You need to get customers interested, then you need to convert them, and finally to manage them. There are broadly two ways of doing this.
One way of doing that is to go through an intermediary like Apple App Store and Apple News+, Google Play Store and Subscribe With Google, Facebook Instant Articles and Facebook Subscriptions. The benefit of this is the platform's immediate reach and ready-to-use subscription tech to list offers and manage subscribers. The drawbacks are de-intermediation (you don't own your customer's relationships, they do) and commissions (50% for Apple News+).
Another way of doing this is going direct to consumers and own your subscription infrastructure. This is harder from a tech perspective, however you will own all the revenue and the customer relationship. You need to attract subscribers and then you need to give them world-class conversion experiences. Let's explore how you can get subscribers through the door and convert them.
First they must come
The first step is to attract subscribers. They are a lot of ways to do that, but fundamentally, you can:
- Grow your organic social presence, getting people to like your Facebook page and follow your brand on Twitter, then pushing them toward your content.
- Interrupting the reader experience with paywalls
- Putting big banners and call-to-action on your website to subscribe
- Pay for ads on Google, Instagram etc... to advertise your subscriptions
- Emailing your readers about your new subscription business
There are lots of tools to help you do this. From directly managing ads in Facebook Business Manager, to putting up dynamic, smart paywall with Blaize, from emailing specific segments with Salesforce Marketing Cloud, there are plenty of tools out there to get you a nice pipeline of prospects. The obvious is to start with your owned channels such as emails and websites, then try to grow organic search and social, then pay for ads. If you have a lot of cash, you can start with ads.
Second they must be convinced
What happens next? Well they need to get on a landing page. This is the first step of the conversion experience (or checkout flow). This landing page has better be good. You've got an interested person, who wants to know exactly why they should subscribe, at what price and how they can do it. You don't want to lose them here.
To maximise your chances, the landing page should be personalised, communicating the value in a way that the prospective subscriber can relate to. And it should be compelling, showcasing the content they would be able to get access to in the best way possible.
There are broadly two elements you can play with:
- The messaging and creatives of the landing page
- The offers and pricing of the landing page
Let's take an example. Your visitor came through to your landing page having seen an ad about your Brexit coverage or from a Brexit article. Imagine two scenarios:
Scenario 1/ The customer lands on a generic page with 'Subscribe to Limio News, the best news!' and three generic offers.
Scenario 2/ The customer lands on a landing page that has:
- A headline 'Cut through the fog'
- A subline which includes 'Follow the latest Brexit coverage, starting for £1 per week'
- A lead offer giving, giving access to all premium offers and bundling a top-selling digital book related to Brexit
- Three other offers: A very cheap offer, giving only access to Brexit-related premium article. An annual offer with a special -25% discount. And because they are on their iPhone, an app-only offer
- Each offer includes the description '24/7 Brexit coverage'
- The three latest articles related to Brexit
- Your top five authors on the topic
Scenario two is likely to have double the conversion rate than the generic experience for this Brexit-focussed reader. It is however a lot harder to pull off. And once you get a taste of that higher conversion rate, you will want to add interest-based campaigns for sports fans, business section aficionados, finance addicts, international obsessed, the crosswords fanatics... lifecycle-based campaigns for people renewing, win-backs, upsells... content-based campaigns around special editorials or editions... demographic-based campaigns for students, seniors, families, international... It never ends.
To take a real-life example, let's have a look at this Hulu ad and landing page combination:
I particularly like this combination, as it's pulling the subscriber in with a star show. Then, rather than redirecting them to the homepage, it's enticing the prospective subscriber to start watching the show they came for in the first place - with a free trial! And if the prospective visitors hesitate, they can see other shows or other plans that Hulu offers.
But how do you do this?
Our focus at Limio is to help you create and scale personalised landing pages for subscription products, no matter how small or big you are. And because we are practical people, we also help you manage the data you'll need for your other distribution channels like Apple News, Subscribe with Google and others. We explore how in our second post how we and partner can help you do this.