10 Strategies to Grow Digital Content Subscription Revenue

Just a few short years ago, digital publishers could rely on advertising strategies to help them bring in revenue. However, between the societal shifts enforced by the pandemic and the growing popularity of ad blocking software, businesses have discovered that they can't count on this revenue stream like they once did.

Fortunately, there's  another way forward, one that actually is built on a past familiar approach: digital content subscription revenue model. Take a look at 10 strategies you can implement to grow digital content subscriptions and reader revenue online.


1. Offering Ad-Free Incentives as a Motivator

People subscribe to digital content channels because that subscription promises a more pleasant experience than other ways of receiving that content.

You can grow digital content subscriptions by offering an ad-free experience (with no need to turn to ad blockers or other third-party apps) as one of the key signup benefits. Admiral can help you set up these incentives for all visitors, or present only as an adblock paywall to those that prefer block ads.

Ad-Free Subscription offer Digital Trends - Admiral VRM


2. Offering Free Trials

One key aspect of encouraging new subscribers involves removing as many potential barriers and risks as possible. Consider offering a no-cost, one-month free trial period to give potential subscribers a chance to test drive your content.

If they like what they see, they'll stay on board after the trial period ends. As an alternative, you can offer an extended discount period for readers who subscribe during a limited promotional window.

Questions about how to set up a paywall, metered paywall model, paywall definition?

Check out our FAQ for Paywalls and Digital Subscriptions.

3. Leveraging Your Email Newsletters

Email newsletters have proven their value as sales, engagement, and retention tools. They can also prove invaluable for capturing first-party data as interested readers sign up.

In addition to capturing basic contact information, you can set up an email preference center with a questionnaire that allows readers to tell you exactly what products, services, and subjects they most want to hear about.

This zero-party data then helps you construct your buyer personas and fine-tune your entire marketing plan to feed those preferences -- while also aiding in the development of paid-only subscription content, which you can then upsell through the email newsletters.

Email Acquisition CTA - Admiral Visitor Relationship Mgmt Platform


4. Diversifying Your Products and Services

You probably know about the value of diversifying your personal and commercial income streams to gain a more solid, predictable financial footing in an uncertain world.

The same notion holds true for digital publishers, many of whom have expanded their lines of publications, products, and services to reach a wider audience.

"Diversify you revenue streams. Period. Full stop." - Randall Rothenberg, IAB CEO

Think about where your target audience's varied interests might lead them, and then meet them there by creating events, memberships, and informative content to suit those additional interests. Consider a visitor engagement platform such as Admiral to delivering the right options to each visitor at the right time to drive your optimal ARPV (average revenue per visitor).

5. Letting Your Customers Give Subscriptions as Gifts

If you've ever experienced the happy surprise of receiving a subscription to a favorite publication as a gift, you'll understand why offering such gift options might make so much sense as a way to grow content subscriptions.

For the recipient, it's the ultimate no-risk trial; for the giver, it's a quick, easy way to give a thoughtful, useful gift. That recipient will hopefully renew that subscription, transfer it to another first-time recipient, or even purchase multiple subscriptions to hand out as gifts, essentially serving as a sales agent for your publication.

6. Adding Customization Options for Individual Subscribers

Nobody wants to leap into a digital subscription that doesn't quite suit their needs, budget, and preferences. You can remove this potential objection by offering a few simple customization options via subscriber management software like Admiral's Transact module.

Give your subscribers the ability to choose from different subscription terms, price points, and bundled content packages. The more control your subscribers have over their digital content subscriptions, the more likely you are to keep them onboard for years to come.

Merriam-Webster Britannica Donation Case Study


7. Creating Tiered Multi-Reader Membership Plans

The same basic customization strategy that appeals to individuals will also appeal to institutions such as schools, government agencies, corporations, and other institutions or organizations looking to add value for their members.

If your publication is relevant to the B2B arena, create corporate membership plans, educational plans, and other plans that will cater to these groups. Offer multiple tiers, starting at the most affordable base level with opportunities to purchase more comprehensive or specialized content at the higher levels.

Organizations that see the value of keeping their constituents happy may renew these subscriptions year after year without a second thought.

8. Optimizing Your Subscription Payment Systems

It's all too easy for digital subscribers to miss a regular payment out of sheer neglect or distraction, only to see their subscription expire. you may or may not ever see those subscribers again, so make sure your subscription payment systems and policies aren't allowing this kind of churn to occur too easily.

Implement some sort of grace period to give subscribers a chance to correct that accidentally missed payment. Automate your collections system, introducing an auto-pay option if you don't already have one.

Questions about how to set up a paywall, metered paywall model, paywall definition?

Check out our FAQ for Paywalls and Digital Subscriptions.


9. Introducing a Super-Premium Subscriber Level

On the surface, it might seem counterintuitive to make your digital content more expensive as a means of boosting your subscriptions. When couched in the form of a super-premium subscriber level, however, you can turn this potential objection point into an outright attraction.

Gated premium content increases that content's perceived value. The simple fact that not everyone gets to view it makes it that much more special, and therefore more desirable.

The creation of a premium-priced level that offers "the works'' also lets you set a top price point for your subscriptions.

Even the subscribers who shy away from that price point will see the lower tiers as a comparative bargain and sign up for them that much more readily. Either way, you grow content subscriptions.

10. Making Better Use of Subscriber Analytics

Any business function requires accurate, detailed, ongoing evaluation of that function's performance. You can't know how successfully your digital subscription strategies and tactics are working unless you can monitor key performance indicators such as subscriber churn, monthly revenue, net retention, and average revenue per visitor (ARPV). A full-service provider like Admiral can include these analytics as part of comprehensive subscription management software.

Content subscription management software - Admiral VRM


If you're ready to grow digital subscriptions and boost reader revenue the smart, effective way, turn to Admiral for state-of-the-art solutions. We can provide your business with a wide range of metered paywall, subscription management, and other critical features to help ensure your success in the digital subscriptions marketplace. More >> Paywall and Subscription Case Study

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