Advance Local finds a way to reach prospects on their terms

By Debbie Tolman

Advance Local

New York, United States


Our job as marketers is to make it easy for prospects to say “yes.” The data at our fingertips has made this much easier than the days of educated guesses.

About two years ago, Advance Local implemented an audience segmentation model. This model bucketed prospects in terms of readiness; the first of many steps to align offers to where a prospect is in their journey with us.

During the first six months, we collected conversion rate data. We discovered 4% of our prospects delivered 80% of our sales from blocked content. This revealed a great opportunity to improve the experience for 96% of our prospects.

A new experiment

This became the impetus for the seven-day free trial. Prospects who were first-time visitors, non-addressable, or with no engagement in the prior 30 days had little to no potential to convert to a paid subscription. We needed to provide them with a value exchange that would grow the relationship.

The prospect was offered seven days to browse our premium content. During that time, they were served newsletter opt-in messages, content promotion, and other tools to help them understand the value of a subscription. The seven-day free trial provided Advance Local with a registration.

After a seven-day free trial,  customers were given the option to subscribe.
After a seven-day free trial, customers were given the option to subscribe.

Testing for insights

A seven-day free trial was tested in one of our markets. Testing lasted six months, starting in March 2022. In August 2022, the offer was expanded across all our markets. Advance Local now has nearly 200,000 free trial conversions. We are approaching 9,000 (4.5%) of those converting to subscriptions. Additional analysis is underway to understand the retention impact of this approach.

We hypothesise that a free trial participant has a better understanding of the value proposition and will retain better than someone who didn’t participate in a free trial.

Free trials provide a path forward for top-of-funnel prospects.

Throughout the free trial, readers are given the option to subscribe.
Throughout the free trial, readers are given the option to subscribe.

Increasing engagement

Next, we focused on a large number of prospects with infrequent engagement. They are familiar with the brand but not necessarily ready to commit to a subscription. We needed an offer that fit between a free trial and a monthly or annual subscription.

The solution for these low-engaged prospects is our Day Pass. For the last four months, we have tested price points and segmentation to learn how day passes fit into our strategy. We have tested prices between US$0.99 and US$3 in three markets. Of the 1,826-day pass purchases,12.3% have subscribed. Interestingly, 2% of day pass purchasers are repeat buyers.

This indicates a portion of the audience rejects the commitment of a subscription. They are willing to pay a premium price to avoid commitment.

We continue to refine segmentation as we test different offers. Attributes like logged-in status, content affinity, and seasonality all play a role in determining the right offer for a prospect. This includes understanding who is not a prospect for paying for content and should instead be monetised from advertising.

Our goal is to achieve a 10% conversion from our prospect group. We believe continued fine-tuning and creativity on offers will take us there.

About Debbie Tolman

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