I started my publishing career in 2000. Over the next seven years I worked with over 30 different media brands from a dozen different industries, welding to restaurants to HVAC.
Maybe more than anything, I learned about the power of the subscriber. It was well known information inside the company that loyal subscribers were more valuable. They generally bought more from advertisers, shared more articles with colleagues and friends, and traveled and spent money at live events.
Simply put, subscribers = revenue.
When I launched my own business, I wanted to put this to the test.
First, we focused on email subscribers only…getting them and keeping them.
Once we attained what Brian Clark calls a Minimum Viable Audience, our goal was to get our audience to subscribe to as many things as possible. We believed that those who subscribed more would be more valuable from a revenue standpoint.
After Content Marketing Institute officially launched in May 2010, we planned to launch a magazine called Chief Content Officer. The hope was to break even from the magazine, having advertising offset the publishing costs. But the reason why we were launching a print magazine when everyone else was killing theirs was simple…we believed that subscribers to both the email newsletter AND the print magazine would spend more money with us.
It wasn’t easy, but after about two years of looking at vast amounts of data and spreadsheets, we discovered the hypothesis worked. Audience members who subscribed to at least three content initiatives – the blog, newsletter, podcast, virtual event series, print magazine, etc. – spent twice as much as those who did not. This was why, even when the print magazine technically lost money on paper, we kept it going.
The Financial Times just discovered the same thing.
According to Digiday, “the FT found that subscribers who had been to physical events were more engaged online — they read more articles and visited more regularly — in the 4 months post-event than pre-event, and they remained higher.” Subscribers behave differently.
What’s helping is that FT and media companies like Bloomberg aren’t signing up audience members to virtual events ad hoc. They are signing them up to free “all-access” subscriptions. With the subscription they get to go to virtual events. Those subscribers are way more active and loyal than non-subscribers.
Now what should you do with this information?
Start with a subscriber plan, most likely an incredibly valuable email newsletter. Or a slack group like my friend Joe Hage started.
Or if you do online events, create a subscription program. Then, set a subscriber goal…could be 1K, 2K or 5K.
Then start looking at the data. Do subscribers behave differently? Do they spend more? Do they stay longer as customers?
Whatever it is, I bet it’s something amazing.
The following was an excerpt from Joe’s newsletter. Only subscribers receive the full version.