Nearly half the audience, 40%, agreed the best way to convert is through free trials. Some 20% of the audience felt personalized content was best, 14% looked to third-party collaborations, 13% felt discounts were the best way to go and the remaining 13% offered other courses of action.
The results of the poll were supported by examples of news and media organizations that have excelled at capturing a paid digital subscription base over the past few years. (The results will be published in the coming weeks.)
A prime example is The New York Times, which made more than $1 billion last year in overall subscription revenue alone, boasting more than 2.6 million digital-only subscribers. Discounted rates following a free subscription period were cited by Lobb and Edwards as a proactive way to keep new subscribers.
Time magazine was considered another great example of retention following a free trial. The magazine, which recently sold for $190 million, or six times its operating profit, has a print readership of 26 million. The publication offers gift subscriptions, free issues of the magazine and annual subscription discounts to retain its audience.
Just last week The Boston Globe hit a revenue milestone when it reached 100,000 digital subscribers. Many news outlets have moved to a paywall and digital subscription strategy, including local outlets with more limited audiences.
Digital trials seem to be the most supported and popular; even the most traditional of newspaper publishers anticipates a digital future. (Just last week, The New York Times’ publisher A.G. Sulzberger stated the time will come when the paper will become a digital-only news organization.)
As advertising dollars continue to disappear, new models for survival become more important — particularly in the digital sphere.