The Science of Subs

The New Scientist marketing team won ‘Team of the Year’ at this year’s PPA Awards. Marketing Director Jo Adams was a recent guest on the InPublishing Podcast…

By James Evelegh

The Science of Subs
Photograph: National Cancer Institute on Unsplash.

If you are not entirely sure about how to put together a successful subscriptions strategy, then I have one piece of top-drawer advice for you. Listen to this week’s podcast with Jo Adams, marketing director at New Scientist.

Here are ten bits of advice I took away from the interview:

  1. Be led by the data. As Jo says, it’s all about “constantly asking questions and striving to find the answers in a complex world.”
  2. Use lifetime value as the key metric to inform all your acquisition and retention marketing.
  3. Employ specialists not generalists. Modern subs marketers should be analysts and channel experts. If yours are not, then extra training is required.
  4. Adopt KPIs for every channel and key variable; monitor them regularly and act on what you find.
  5. Share the KPIs. If subs revenue is important to your business, then this information should be shared and understood widely.
  6. Test, learn & continually evolve. Document your findings, do more of what works, and stop doing stuff that doesn’t.
  7. Get your acquisition and retention teams to work in harmony. They should know what each other is up to, what each other’s priorities are, and their goals and strategies should be complementary.
  8. Don’t get hung up looking for a one-size-fits-all strategy. New Scientist has a hard paywall in the UK, but recognises that its brand recognition is lower in the States, where they are trying to expand. They are likely to adopt a more flexible strategy over there.
  9. Be agile. When stuff happens, be ready to take advantage. Health Secretary Matt Hancock, in a recent Downing Street press briefing, kindly said: “I knew I would get tough questions from New Scientist.” A priceless quote and, within hours, deployed widely by Jo’s team.
  10. Give marketing a seat at the top table. At New Scientist, the marketing department represents the voice of the customer, and is involved in all key strategic decisions.

(In the next issue of InPublishing magazine, we are running a special feature on subs, with input from some of the UK’s leading subs experts. If you’re not on our mailing list, you can register here.)