How to create a renewal strategy and grow your subscriber base

Getting more subscribers is a quick way to grow your readership, but make sure that you always look out for the subs you’ve already got.

Getting more subscribers is a quick way to grow your readership, but make sure that you always look out for the subs you’ve already got.

When you look at the numbers, retaining your current subscribers really pays off in the long term. Luckily, building a renewal strategy that works doesn’t have to be overly complicated. We spoke to Alan Leech from crmSubscribe, an end-to-end subscription management solution, to get his tried and tested insights.

Alan Leech, crmSubscribe
Alan Leech, Chief Engineer, crmSubscribe.

The dangers of operating without a renewal strategy

It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of meeting print and shipping deadlines every month. There’s a big scramble, the issue goes out, and then everyone wipes the sweat from their brow and moves onto the next deadline.

Unfortunately, publishers operating this way often face a dwindling list of subscribers because those due to renew were overlooked during this busy period. Unless they’ve been able to score a bunch of new subscribers, there’s a good chance your subs will plummet.

For example, if you had a monthly title with 1,200 subscribers, roughly 100 people would expire every month. If you had a renewal rate of 60 per cent, which is not a bad renewal rate, that would mean that only 60 of your 100 renew. Therefore, you’ll only have 600 subscribers left after a year (if you didn’t get any new signups). However, if you had a renewal rate of 80 per cent, then you’d have 800 subscribers.

So, having a higher renewal rate means you don’t need as many new subscribers just to tread water.

What’s the best strategy to retain subscribers and increase your renewal rate?

Turn your focus to a renewal strategy as soon as your current issue goes out. That way, it’ll be top of mind, and you’ll give your database as much time as possible to renew before the next issue.

After decades of working with a wide range of publishers and subscriptions models, crmSubscribe developed a simple renewal strategy with consistent results. Start by segmenting your database into three main categories:

  • Subscribers who have one issue left
  • Subscribers who are about to receive their last issue
  • Subscribers who will miss the current issue because their subscription has lapsed.

Then, each category is broken down further by separating those who gave a subscription as a gift and those who bought it for themselves.

By using a combination of email and letter reminders, we can keep a lid on costs. Email renewals are cost-effective and arguably more efficient for the subscriber to respond to. Ensure that your renewal emails pre-populate forms with the subscriber’s details to streamline the renewal process as much as possible.

Letter renewals sent cost-effectively (only after multiple email attempts have failed) will touch base with subscribers who may be determined to ignore emails.

Don’t forget to reconnect with lapsed subscribers throughout the year

Additional measures are put in place to begin reaching out to lapsed subscribers regularly throughout the year. The frequency of your publication often dictates the timeline. Still, as an example, you would reconnect with lapsed subscribers of a monthly publication once every three months to remind them that you’re still here.  

Auto-renewals should be part of your strategy

Another part of a good renewal strategy will be to offer auto-renewals when subscribers sign up. This is a popular option for subscribers who don’t want to add extra admin to their life. Plus, you’ll save time and money as a publisher by not having to send letters or chase up lapsed subscriptions.

You’ll still have to have a strategy for auto-renewals when a credit card fails because it does happen. In this case, it’s best to protect your relationship with the subscriber first and treat them as a lapsed subscription rather than seemingly chasing a debt for that issue. Simply reconnect with them to remind them that they’re due to renew their subscription.

Of course, this renewal strategy can be customised and adapted to each individual publication. But the general timeline and methods will stay the same simply because it’s known to work. 

If you want to know more about putting a renewal strategy in place for your publication, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at crmSubscribe by visiting their website

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