The future for subscriptions

Magazine publishers have long thought of subscriptions as an easy way to get their print products delivered to their most frequent customers, and a handy source of upfront cash.  My belief is that subscriptions will be key to the future growth of magazine brands – and there are plenty of lessons to be learnt by other media businesses.  Here are five predictions, and ideas for how you can exploit them now:

1. Digital editions

Digital editions of magazines are becoming far more sophisticated; often with text searching and the ability to create one’s own archive.  For overseas subscribers and business audiences in particular, offering digital as an alternative to print could be more convenient.  Worth testing at your next renewal. Just watch out for the VAT implications…

2. Self-service

Maintaining subs records and taking orders for gifts, extensions and renewals over the phone is costly.  So is sending out paper renewals offers.  Can you offer easy online account management to your subscribers through your own website – say allowing them to renew, extend, or even change the delivery address temporarily?

3. Bespoke content

Not all your subcribers will be the same.  Some may be interested in an upgrade that gets them additional exclusive content or early notice of news items or limited offers.  How can you segment your subs and create bespoke content packages?

4. Expert panel

Your subscribers are your most loyal and knowledgeable customers. They know your content intimately.  Why not recruit them into an expert panel to help you develop your content packages and other services?  Take the time to carefully analyse who is subscribing and why.

5. Privilege club

Everyone likes to feel special, and to know about exclusive events and offers.  Create some “money can’t buy” opportunities for your subscribers, eg a q&a session with an expert or celeb, or an exclusive offer from your advertisers.  This will build loyalty, and you’ll learn more about what interests this key group.

I’d love to hear about your future plans for your subscription business; just click on the comment button.

Carolyn Morgan’s consultancy business, Penmaen Media, advises businesses on how to use digital to grow media brands and drive revenues.  Find out more at