In the world of publishing, members (subscribers) are hard-won, and membership retention is even more difficult. The goal is that, once members are brought onboard, a publishing business can run like a locomotive—with unstoppable momentum that builds over time. That feeling is the magic of membership retention.
On the other hand, when publishers lose members faster than they sign up new ones, it feels more like bailing out a leaky boat. So how do they run like a locomotive?
I talked with leading specialized information publishers about strategies they use to improve membership retention and increase member value. Their insights will help you develop loyal members who continue to buy your services year after year.
1. Create Something the Customer Can’t Get Anywhere Else
To maintain your member’s interest, you need to keep your publication content unique and necessary.
Inside Mortgage Finance publishes statistics and B2B news for residential mortgage executives. “The timely data it delivers is something no one else has,” states the company’s CEO and publisher, Guy Cecala. The company updates its data at least quarterly, and in some cases monthly.
“It’s the way we entice people to get a subscription,” Cecala says. “They don’t want to be cut off. They become hooked on it, and they rely on it.”
2. Tend to the Sale After the Sale
Don’t simply forget about a member once there’s an order in hand.
Ryan Dohrn, founder of SalesTrainingWorld.com, makes sure his members know they are appreciated. Sales Training World provides top-quality training and coaching for sales managers and other sales professionals.
“First, deliver what you promised, and then understand that retention equals frequency, creativity, and value,” says Dohrn. One month he might mail a cool pair of ear buds with his logo on them to members. Another month, he sends out a handwritten thank-you note. Dohrn also uses automated systems like CallingPost.com or CallMultiplier.com to send out automated voice mails or texts.
“One month I might do something unexpected, like call 25 members,” he says.
3. Maintain the Relationship
When subscription materials are complex, publishers put even more effort into keeping readers engaged.
Columbia Books and Information Services sells specialized information and data to professionals involved in grants, associations, politics and industries that are closely regulated by the federal government. After the company onboards a new member, it checks in over time to make sure the reader is benefitting from the information, states president Joel Poznansky.
“Contacting and understanding the customer is the best way to ensure we are delivering information and services they see as valuable,” he says.
Investing Daily also sells complex information. The 40-year-old company provides actionable stock market advice, as well as free investment newsletters.
The president of Investing Daily, Phil Ash, shares that they offer a welcome series for every service. The tactic becomes vital when selling higher-priced products, such as options trading services—products that have a higher ROI, but also a higher cancellation rate.
For its most complex products, the company also uses a detailed “New Member Start Here” page and a list of FAQs. Subscribers also receive a welcome call explaining how the service works.
“There’s a lot of hand-holding, but it has brought cancellation rates down,” Ash says.
When Members Renew, Publications Grow
Every company acquires new customers on its way to success. But to keep growing, publishers must also keep the members they already have. To do so, they offer original, indispensable information to niche buyers. They deliver customer appreciation rewards well after the sale. And, they shepherd new readers through complex materials, so members can enjoy their full value. The trick to renewals lies in building, not just sales, but also relationships.