Commentary

Finding The Lost Subscriber

Last week, we discussed some competitive email strategies. Today's article addresses a critical issue for email marketers -- winning back lost subscribers.

Email marketers, especially those in the publishing field, often use email for revenue generation, for such jobs as:

  • Increasing the effectiveness of their multi-channel efforts

  • Growing their email list rental files

  • Early notice of subscription renewals

  • Third-party survey invitations

  • Enhancing up-sell by notifying customers of special website
    content available.

    When an email address expires, though, is there a proven strategy to find the newest address? Recent trends indicate that acquiring the email address of expired subscribers is a popular strategy.

    Newspaper publishers face a complex challenge. While they have done a tremendous job of building content-laden Web sites (with overall readership -- online & print -- increasing), there is still a decline in total print circulation and print advertising revenues. Online component revenues have grown because of increased online activity, but it hasn't been enough to offset the lower print revenues. This leaves publishers faced with the biggest challenge of retaining and winning back print subscribers.

    Including email as a multi-channel marketing strategy has proven to reduce the cost-per-order (CPO) for re-acquisition campaigns. The CPO for a direct mail/telemarketing reacquisition campaign can average $200. When able to use email as a touch-point in the re-acquisition campaign, the CPO can drop to around $100 -- a 50% reduction in costs, due to quicker response and lower communication costs. In many cases, using the added email address results in subscribers responding to the initial email campaign -- eliminating the need for a direct mail piece or phone call.

    Also, in many cases, online responders are more valuable than expired customers that renew from an outbound telemarketing call! Analysis showed that customers who renew from a telemarketing call are quicker to cancel their subscription than those who respond to an email renewal offer. Theory? Telemarketing renewal is an impulse buy, whereas online renewal is a deliberate action. Subscribers have to open, click-through and complete the subscription information online vs. just agreeing over the telephone. Cost to communicate is lower, but long-term responders are worth more.

    Many providers include the broadcast of an initial welcome message to introduce email communications to former subscribers. We've learned that including a soft renewal offer helps the consumer see the value of allowing the company to contact them via email. It also has the added benefit of helping to drive immediate results for the publisher.

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