In February 2012, The Australian engaged Jigsaw Strategic Research study usage behaviour of subscribers and others who received free trials.

We had three key objectives:

  1. To understand why those who participated in two free-content trials (28-day trial or a three-month trial) did not convert their trial into a paid subscription.

  2. To understand what would entice non-converters to subscribe to paid content.

  3. To understand reasons for take-up amongst converters from trial to paid content subscriptions, in order to incorporate these elements into future activity.

The key insights from this research were:

  • Paying subscribers are engaged: Time spent on site analysis revealed that subscribers spent average of 140.5 minutes per week, compared to non-subscribers who spent 10.3 minutes.
  • Multi-device usage and conversion have a high correlation: Those who received free trials and did not convert are significantly less likely to have accessed the digital pass on more than one device.

  • Our readers are willing to pay for quality content: More than 40% of subscribers indicated the value they received from the Digital Pass exceeded their expectations.

  • There is appetite for bundles: 62% of subscribers and 61% of those who received free trials still claim to read the printed newspaper.

Our goal was to acquire paid subscribers to our digital and print bundles. We wanted our customers to engage with the quality and quantity of content that The Australian provides nationally.

On September 29, 2012, The Australian went to market with three new introductory offers for paid subscription.

These introductory offers were an opportunity to acquire paid subscribers by providing customers a low-risk, low-cost entry to subscribing. This included the opportunity to enjoy The Australian’s content wrapped in an offer to suit their lifestyle needs: one simple price, multiple ways to enjoy.

The barrier to entry for many customers is understanding these questions:

  • Why should I pay for online news when it is freely available elsewhere?

  • What is the value of The Australian Digital Pass?

We needed to explain these to create desire for our content and service.  This was demonstrated with the below product offering and our communications to market:

  • A$1 for 28-day Digital Pass, then A$2.95 a week.

  • A$5 for 28 days of The Weekend Australian home delivered and a Digital Pass.

  • A$10 for 28 days of six-day newspaper home delivery and a Digital Pass.

The campaign can be measured with clear indication of subscriber uptake after our A$1, A$5, and A$10 digital-bundle offerings were introduced to market, showing outstanding results.

Growing at a rate of 14.8% (+4,038 digital subscribers) from the introduction of our campaign in September, we saw an increase of 30% by January 13 on the previous quarter (the end of September). This represented a growth of +9,341 subscribers to 40,561 — a remarkable result and a testament to the strength of the brand, the editorial content, and the marketing initiatives implemented.

This demonstrated that our subscribers are willing to pay for content and see value in our premium content paying full price and not churning when charges are incurred.

Paid digital subscriber results:

  • By June 30: 27,182 paid digital subscribers.

  • By September 30: 31,220 paid digital subscribers or a growth of +4,038 (+14.8% on previous quarter).

  • By January 13: 40,561 paid digital subscribers or a growth of +9,341 (+30% on previous quarter).

  • In the six months following the campaign: Paying digital subscribers increased 49% from 27,182 to 40,561.

In summary, the campaign contributed to an acquisition of 23% of our total paid customer base.