Daily Memphian reaches 12-month subscription goal in 3 weeks

By Lauren Fritsky


Haddon Heights, New Jersey, USA


The Daily Memphian is the primary daily online publication in the Memphis, Tennessee, community. The U.S. publication, which was launched in 2018, saw the opportunity to give the 650,000+ people of Memphis a dedicated space for consuming content about local events, news, and people.

From the onset, The Daily Memphian was set up as a premium subscription publication, initially pricing access at US$7 per month. It adopted this business model for two reasons:

  1. To sustain the business through an audience willing to pay for high-quality content.
  2. To provide a continuous push for the brand to produce its best work in support of a premium offering.
The Daily Memphian was able to reach its one-year subscription goals in just three weeks.
The Daily Memphian was able to reach its one-year subscription goals in just three weeks.

Overcoming the challenge of limited resources

To support the early stage of the business, The Daily Memphian allocated a little space to advertising, namely for local brands willing to pay for the exposure. However, the goal was always to produce quality content, not flood users with ads.

The Daily Memphian wanted to deliver content aligned with audience expectations, as fast as possible, as that justified the monthly subscription. At launch, its goal was to reach 4,500 subscribers in the first 12 months.

But Eric Barnes, the company’s CEO, knew the brand needed visibility and authority that would motivate local readers to subscribe. The company required a strategic multi-channel marketing campaign to broadcast the brand across many different outlets, including local buses and other out-of-home banners. It also needed a strategic partner experienced in audience analysis so it could most effectively target pricing and other offers to their readers.

Looking for a new solution

Barnes turned to Piano for help as he built the Daily Memphian.  Piano Composer allowed the audience and marketing teams to test, deploy, and manage offers, pricing, and messaging as they worked toward their launch.

Because Composer integrated with The Daily Memphian’s custom CMS platform, the team was able to collect more data on its subscribers, which in turn allowed the publication to optimise its content by focusing on stories deemed most valuable to its subscribers.

“This was essential to getting the business to market quickly and helping to manage the audience experience so that people would pay for the subscription,” Barnes said.

30% increase to paywall rate

The approach proved even more successful than Barnes had hoped. The Daily Memphian achieved its goal of 4,500 subscribers in just 3.5 weeks and, over the next few months, the subscription base grew to 7,000. In two years of operations, it has doubled that base to 14,000 subscribers.

The company was also able to increase the paywall rate from the initial US$7 monthly subscription fee up to an average of US$9.25 per month. Using Composer’s A/B and A/B/C testing features, The Daily Memphian is continually able to optimise its offerings to drive subscribers to the best subscription plan.

About Lauren Fritsky

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