Commentary

Publishers Can Reduce Subscriber Churn By Updating Collection Methods

Publishers that put a lot effort into signing up new subscribers need to be mindful about retaining them. That's one of the themes of MediaPost'sPublishing Insider Summit this week, which focuses on strategies to build and diversify sources of direct-to-consumer revenue.
Amid these discussions, it was interesting to read the experience of The Seattle Times, which cut its digital churn rate from more than 80% in 2014 to less than 40%. The paper attributed part of that reduction to an update in its dunning process -- that is, collecting payments from subscribers.
Updating back-office functions may not be as glamorous as other parts of marketing a news publication, but it was simple and effective, according to Curtis Huber, senior director of circulation and audience revenue, and Kati Erwert, senior vice president of product, marketing and public service at The Seattle Times.
In a Q&A with the Better News blog, they said they reduced nonpayment stops by 21% after addressing the grace period, credit-card management and targeted communication with subscribers.
They extended the grace period to 27 days, giving readers more time to update their credit-card information after receiving a reminder to do so. Those reminders included emails and messages when readers logged into its site. The paper also added retry attempts on failed credit cards, including occasions when a card has reached its limit.
As a result of these steps, unintentional churn is now at 9.7%, the lowest since paper started offering digital subscriptions.

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