Poll Shows Free Trial Best Way To Convert Visitors To Subscribers

Deciding how to attract and keep a paid audience base is no simple matter. During a recent live webinar called “Around the World in 80 Paid… Content Strategies,” Ana Lobb, MPP Global’s vice president of media and publishing, and Ben Edwards, PageSuite’s business development director, polled the audience on the best way to convert visitors to paid subscribers in publishing.

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.

Next story loading loading..