Audience Engagement Digital Publishing Top Stories
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Publishers believe email is the most effective tactic for driving subscriptions (Apparently, so does Apple)

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For publishers looking to drive more subscriptions, email is king,” says Digiday Research’s Shareen Pathak, sharing the results of a recent survey of 136 publishing execs, on the various tactics they use to drive subscriptions and which they find most effective.

The most effective strategy was “adapting the frequency of email,” followed by customizing content for each user. An earlier research by Digiday also found that 65% of publisher executives say their most effective tactic for customer acquisition is email.

When it comes to selling subscription products, publishers are finding most success by marketing to their existing audiences and direct connections through house ads and email marketing campaigns.

Mark Weiss, Digiday Research

The latest study underscored the importance of email to publishers, once again, although sharing email lists hasn’t exactly proved an effective tactic for them. Organic list growth is key.

Publishers use email in various ways to drive people to sign up for subscriptions — either with marketing via offers sent to those already in their database, or sending more email about specific parts of the subscription product, like dedicated member-exclusive pieces, to their audiences.

Shareen Pathak, Digiday Research

Incidentally, even Apple seems to be putting stock in email to shore up subscriptions for Apple News+. 

The company just launched a new ‘Good Morning’ daily newsletter offering “top news, smart analysis, and fascinating features,” collating the “best stories from the most trusted sources.”

Apple’s foray into daily newsletters comes as reports suggest the premium pay-month Apple News+ service isn’t performing as well as expected, with some publishers calling the product “unfinished”.

As a temporary promo, Apple recently offered a 3-month News+ trial through Black Friday weekend, and the company is reportedly considering bundling Apple News+ with Apple Music and Apple TV+ as soon as next year, to increase overall subscriber numbers.

The good news for publishers is that Apple seems to be pulling out all the stops to make News+ a success, and its daily email strategy shows where it sees the most potential for subscriber growth in the long run.

Even after all these years, email still leads the pack when it comes to long term engagement and conversions.