Hard work of keeping new subscribers starts after sale

By Scott Stines


Hiawatha, Iowa, USA


Nothing is more fulfilling than acquiring a new subscriber.

There is a sense of accomplishment — perhaps even a moment of celebration — given the effort expended to identify the best prospect, craft a benefit-laden sales message, persuade a prospect to part with their hard earned money and accept your product into their home, onto their tablet or phone. 

Yet, the really hard work begins only after the subscription order is taken. 

Media companies need to continue fostering relationships long after the sale is made.
Media companies need to continue fostering relationships long after the sale is made.

Forget about “post-purchase dissonance” for the moment. If the customer did not pay at the time of his or her order, the sale is not complete until a correct bill is delivered and a corresponding payment is received. 

Even if the customer provides a credit card at time of purchase, the transaction must be processed successfully before the sale is complete. And even with cash in hand, there is important work to be done to maximise the potential value of the new subscriber.

With little or no control over the product itself, news media marketers face the challenge of making sure new subscribers realize the full benefits of their subscription and understand their business is appreciated. 

Assuming is never good. And assuming new subscribers understand all their subscription has to offer is a recipe for poor retention and declining revenue. 

The key to success is managing customer expectations. This starts with timely and relevant communication the moment the subscription order is placed. 

At the very least, it includes welcoming new subscribers, thanking them for their business, and letting them know when they can expect delivery or access to their subscription.

It also includes proactive follow-up with new subscribers to ensure they are receiving delivery as scheduled and/or can access their digital subscription. Waiting for a new subscriber to report their dissatisfaction is the same as waiting to fail.

The new subscriber’s experience over the first two weeks of their subscription determines their level of satisfaction and, in turn, impacts their potential value to the news publisher.

Ordering a subscription without knowing when delivery starts is never good. Failing to receive delivery on the promised start date is even worse. Believing that the less you communicate is better or that no news from a new subscriber is good news is denial. 

Proactive communications — with the goal of not only managing but exceeding a new subscriber’s expectations — is what leads to long-term profitable subscriber-publisher relationships.

Helping new customers understand what their subscription has to offer, reinforcing the tangible benefits of their subscription, and ongoing follow-up with them to confirm their understanding and satisfaction is the difference between a one-time sale and a profitable, long-term relationship.

There is an old saying, “Nothing happens until someone sells something.” In the subscription-based news-media industry, the hard work begins after the sale is made.

About Scott Stines

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