Media companies have been forced to dramatically change their approach over the last several years. Many of the world’s most influential media companies have succeeded by turning to subscription models. From stalwarts like the New York Times to relative newcomers like Netflix and Spotify, these companies all have unique ways to gain and keep subscribers.
Let’s take a look at some of the strategies media companies use to grow their subscriber base and how your subscription company can use them too.
4 effective strategies media companies use to grow subscribers
Media companies are leading the way in B2C subscriber commerce, so it’s worth checking out what they do to succeed. While the following tips come from media companies, many can be adapted to fit any subscription commerce business.
Different types of subscriptions under one company umbrella
Many subscription-based products offer a single type of subscription. Companies like Spotify and Netflix have a single product to offer their subscribers, with different tiers to account for family accounts or higher quality.
Users can choose which subscription they want to take out. So if they just want Apple TV+ and Apple News+, they can just pay for those two products and not worry about paying for products they’re not using. For those using two or more Apple subscription products, there is Apple One.
Apple One is a new bundled subscription that allows users to access multiple products while only paying for one subscription. By combining all their products into one subscription, Apple’s users can better manage their finances, pay less for their products, and gain more value from their subscription package. While it may seem like Apple is losing out on money with this package, the lower price and easy accessibility actually bring in more new subscribers to the platform.
You also see this in The New York Times’ offerings. Readers can choose the “Basic Access” subscription that gives them access to news. Or they can opt for the “All Access” subscription that includes the famous NYTimes crossword puzzle, NYT Cooking, access to product reviews from the Wirecutter, and access to sports coverage at The Athletic.
Offer promotional pricing and free trials to convert free users to subscribers
Free users are great! They’ll use your service frequently and are happy to tell their friends and family about it. While free users are appreciated, we need them to pay us for our products and services to ensure the business stays afloat. One of the best ways to convert free users is to offer promotional pricing or the almost irresistible free trial period.
Promotional pricing gets customers excited about a potential deal. This could involve a reduced monthly rate for a set number of months, student pricing, or a pay-for-one-month-get-three-months-free type deal. You could even partner with other businesses to offer a discounted rate for their users, helping cross-promote your platform to those using similar products.
The free trial is one of the most common examples of this tactic to bring in new subscribers. The more generous your free trial is, the more new sign-ups you’ll get. For example, The Times of London offers a full month £1 trial before the subscription kicks in at full price.
Offer discounts for annual subscribers
An easy way to ensure long-term users is to offer annual subscriptions. Annual subscriptions require the user to pay for 12 months in advance rather than paying monthly. This ensures that the user has a full year of access to your subscription and means they don’t have to worry about a monthly payment.
Many customers may be apprehensive about paying a lump sum in advance. Even if your product is priced at £10 per month, that’s £120 in advance, which can be a lot for some customers.
That’s why offering a discount for users paying for an annual subscription helps to increase the number of customers paying upfront. Subscribers are getting a better per-month deal and you’ll bring in more money initially to help cover upfront costs, which can be very helpful for startups. It can also improve customer satisfaction, as a discounted annual subscription rewards loyal customers who truly believe in your offerings. This works well for premium products targetting more affluant customers where the initial outlay may not be as much a problem, such as the Financial Times.
Offer the ability to gift subscriptions
We’ve all received a gift card from that family member who doesn’t really know us that well during the holidays. Gift cards were the perfect present for someone you don’t really know all that well, but they have become less popular as bricks-and-mortar retail continues to decline.
Offering the ability gift subscriptions can be a lifeline for distant relatives and Secret Santas over the holidays. They can easily gift a month or even a year’s subscription to your product, giving your business a new regular user and a nice profit boost.
Gift subscriptions also a great option for more expensive subscriptions. Gift subscriptions give parents, partners, and best friends the chance to treat the people in their lives to something they may not buy for themselves. Gifts are an important revenue streams for media companies such as the Economist.
Bonus top tip!
You’ve likely seen the phrase ‘For just pennies a day’ to sell subscriptions. While it is a little cheesy, phrases like that really do help get across how much value your product offers for the price.
If your monthly subscription cost looks a little pricey, try phrasing it as £X per day rather than £X per month.
How Limio can help
Limio helps you create commerce experiences with no-code and brilliant design. You can manage promotions, bundles, paid trials and gifts directly from Limio, and we'll automatically keep your billign system such as Zuora updated. Even better, Limio doesn't just help you to sell - we also think through the whole subscriber lifecycle:
- Handle many products within Limio, with product-specific promotional campaigns, checkouts, and self-service experience.
- Deploy new promotions, bundles and paid trials with zero code and zero IT involvement with billing systems within Limio. Easily pass information to third-party via APIs or with native Limio integrations, for example with the Zephr paywall.
- Define upgrade or downgrade paths specific to promotions, bundles and paid trials, and deploy them with no code in the self-service portal and to the customer service teams.
- Allow to redeem seamlessly a gift subscription online or on the phone so that your business can easily grow your subscriber base.
- Enable gift recipient to renew seamlessly their subscriptions so they become lifetime subscribers.