Subscriptions are on the up across the industry with many publishers seeing a huge improvement in numbers compared to last year figures.
Newspapers such as The Times and The Spectator have seen subscriptions rise 200 percent and 100 percent over the past 12 months respectively, according to Digiday.
New strategies at both publishers have caused the spike in subscription numbers.
The Spectator’s editor, Fraser Nelson, believes the quality of journalism they are providing is a key factor contributing to why readers are paying to read their content.
On the other hand, The Times switched to a digital based strategy that focused on providing issues three times a day in order to re-engage their current subscribers, whilst also prioritising to seek new ones.
Both publishers have had a hard paywall for many years, but are still experimenting with providing free content. Readers who provide personal details, such as email addresses, receive additional articles in return, which also gives publishers insight about its readers.
“If someone comes in and reads one or two articles a week for free, we can still serve them ads so they’re still a good prospect. I may just need a little longer to make them a subscriber. But before, they would have come in on a trial offer and then churned. Now I’m able to develop a better relation with them, and expectations are managed on both sides. It’s more like a courtship,” said Catherine Newman, chief marketing officer at The Times and Sunday Times.
At The Spectator, the magazine introduced a new paywall software in January, which helps widen its audience based on what the subscriber is reading. The paywall has recently been tightened as readers can now only access three articles before a registration page pops up.
Subscriptions at The Spectator start from £12 to £34.50, and along with magazine sales, contribute between a half and two-thirds of revenue, thereby revealing how important it is to get the subscription strategy correct.
“What has been revolutionary for us and editorial is that in changing to the editions’ publishing strategy and moving away from rolling news, we now have appointments to view with our subscribers and registered users that we didn’t have previously,” said Newman.
Other tools that publishers have used to help the subscription drive is social media, newsletters and podcasts.
The Times created 600,000 free sign-ups by using Facebook video, as well as generating 2 million views on the social media platform, creating a fresh appearance for the brand for young readers on the social platform.
Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular to present news and current affairs, and The Spectator has incorporated this within its content. They are on the journey to find how to convert their listeners into paying subscribers, through their new software Evalok, which will be rolled out into their newsletters too.