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The 6 Key pillars of a successful subscription strategy

Admin | 14 October 2022 | Read time: 10 minutes
Topics | subscription model, subscription economy

As the ‘cookie-pocalypse’ approaches, developing a strong subscription strategy is imperative for publishers looking to preserve and grow their revenue moving forward. With the consumer appetite continuing to expand for digital content, subscriptions should form a fundamental revenue stream for all publishers alike. It’s unsurprising that 79% of publishers intend to channel the majority of their energy into their subscription and membership strategies this year, as this will form one of their most important revenue priorities. 

Success when it comes to subscriptions, however, rests on a data-driven approach that prioritises personalised and tailored conversion funnels. Without an understanding of just how important first-party data is, publishers will most likely be unable to capture the interests of potential subscribers, or indeed, keep up with their competition. This article walks publishers through 6 key pillars of a subscription strategy that will set them up for success. 


1. A Strong First-party Data Strategy 

First-party data underscores any strong subscription strategy because of the power it gives publishers to target potential subscribers with personalised and tailored messaging. In a landscape where a one-size-fits-all, generic approach no longer cuts it, first-party data is the key to success. 

First-party data is a means to an end. It allows publishers to gain a deep and granular understanding of their audience, segment their readership, refine their customer acquisition strategy and improve their existing subscriber experience. 

A fundamental aspect of any publisher's subscription strategy, therefore, is refining their data collection, ensuring they harvest high-quality and rich user information that supports their customer acquisition efforts. This should, in theory, help publishers to design a hyper-personalised subscription strategy that primes readers for conversion and maximises ROI. 


2. A Paywall Tailored to Your Audience 

Another key facet of any subscription strategy is the paywall. Publishers must ensure they choose the right type of paywall for their audience. Deciding between a metered, soft, hard, or dynamic paywall can substantially impact conversion rates. 

For publishers looking to roll-out a user-oriented personal subscription funnel, a dynamic paywall is the obvious choice. Instead of treating each user the same, a data-driven paywall assesses which readers are most likely to convert and when, adjusting and evolving to adapt to each users’ pace. Using real-time insights and user data, dynamic paywalls effectively design personalised subscription funnels that drive engagement and optimise stop rates.


3. Personalised Subscription Journeys 

Personalised user experience is  absolutely essential. Since 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase where they have had a personalised experience, publishers vying for the attention of potential subscribers need to offer up a bespoke journey. 

First party data combined with intelligent paywalls is key to facilitating deeply personalised user journeys. 

Helping to automate the entire subscription journey, intelligent paywalls support a subscription strategy that leaves nothing to chance. By giving publishers an intimate understanding of how best to target their potential readership, a data-driven strategy takes the guesswork out of acquiring customers and helps publishers to maximise their ROI. By leveraging data, publishers will reap the benefits of a personalised approach to their customers. The value of being able to offer tailored subscription packages, surface relevant content, and craft appealing offers cannot be overstated.


4. Tailored plans and bundles 

A strong subscription strategy should be flexible when it comes to the subscription plans and bundles on offer. A key element of  personalisation is crafting subscription plans or bundles that appeal to specific audiences. 

Extrapolating this further, publishers could consider allowing their readers to dynamically choose and curate their own subscription bundles to match their preferences. For example, a user who shows particular interest in football news could have the option to create a custom sports subscription package that’s football-focused, rather than having to settle for a general one. Or the ability to fine-tune subscriptions down to preferred content types they like to interact with (articles versus videos, for example). In a corporate or enterprise context, publishers can look to create bundles that cater to their audience’s specific niche or sector. 


5. Reduce Friction 

Ensuring the subscription journey is as frictionless as possible is critical to maximising conversion rate. Any obstacles or friction points that a user encounters can lead to dissatisfaction, which ultimately represents a barrier to purchase. Part of the process for removing friction relies on publishers continually refining their paywalls to optimise and fine tune their success rate

Additionally, they must ensure that the payment process is as smooth as possible with minimal hurdles to making the final payment. It’s important also to make sure that the overall price-point aligns with the readership’s budget. 


6. Assess, Analyse & Optimise 

Finally, it is essential to understand that a subscription strategy is continually evolving. Continuing to test, assess, analyse and optimise the subscription funnel is key to maximise a publishers’ ROI. Additionally, it is important to understand that the subscription strategy does not end at acquisition, it extends into keeping and retaining those subscribers. Thus designing a subscription strategy that covers all stages of a user’s journey is fundamental to maximising CLV. 


The key to making it happen? Having the right technology


With these 6 key pillars of a subscription strategy in mind, publishers need a powerful tool that gives them key oversight and the ability to fine-tune and personalise their subscriptions.  

Though there are many tools in the market, choosing tools without considering your existing tech stack could result in disparate or siloed functionality. That’s why the best-of-breed route is often a preferred approach. Enabling publishers to access a variety of the best tools that work together without restriction, a best-of-breed tech stack gives publishers high-level command over their active subscriptions, granular control over their subscription strategy, and helps them to leverage first-party data findings for high-value returns.

Publishers should look for a tool that seamlessly works with them to proactively and dynamically build out, test, refine and optimise their digital subscription strategy. At their base, subscription tools should slot effortlessly into publishers’ subscription funnels, not only facilitating and realising their strategy, but helping them to maximise their returns. 


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