5 effective strategies to reduce your subscriber acquisition costs

    Last updated: May 13, 2024

    You need to get more paid subscribers. But your budget just got cut, your team’s getting stretched across more and more initiatives, and your campaign costs just keep going up.

    Sound familiar? In this post, we’ve got some actionable ways to streamline your subscription acquisition process and cut costs from your campaigns — so you can grow your audience without breaking the bank.    

    Prioritize your most profitable audience  

    Faced with stagnant numbers, the first response is often switching everything up. We need to focus on new audiences — and now.   

    Master subscription models: 9 Proven tactics to skyrocket retention & revenue:

    But chances are, most of your subscribers are coming from the same industries, referral sources, and they expect the same things from you.  

    So instead of stretching yourself too thin to reach fringe audiences, focus on better serving the ICP you already have. 

    The better you are at engaging that core, the less time and money you’ll need to spend chasing audience segments that are less likely to drive revenue anyway. Here’s how to do it:  

    Create your ideal subscriber profile: Using your customer data platform, see what your most loyal audience has in common, then organize your promotional strategy around those data points. Some questions to ask:   

    • What topics are they most interested in? What web pages do they visit most frequently? How much time do they spend on site? (For best results, tag each of your pages according to topic, industry focus, top-funnel v. bottom-funnel, etc., so you can analyze each tag’s performance as a whole in your website analytics solution.)  
    • What patterns of activity are most predictive of an eventual subscription? Before subscribing, did your core audience interact with your newsletters, social ads, and other channels — or did they stick to your website? How much time did they spend on your site and how many times per week did they visit? 
    • Also see how this audience moves through your conversion funnel: Were they more likely to subscribe off of a meter or a gated asset, like an eBook or white paper? Or were they most likely to subscribe after attending an event? Compare to a similar cohort of audience members who are highly engaged, but not subscribed, to see what moved the needle for your subscribers.  
    • If you have multiple brands, does your loyal audience engage with more than one of them? How do they respond to cross-promotion and upsell offers?  
    • What kind of ads are they most likely to engage with and convert from (display ads vs. content marketing assets)?  These insights will help you prioritize different channels and spend your marketing budget in the right spots.  

    Research your competition: Analyze your competitors’ content mix, paywall design and copy, and conversion funnel and find opportunities to differentiate. Say that your biggest competitor stretches out its sign-up process over six pages or uses really long forms. Simplifying your own process will help you close a higher percentage of your mutual ICP and lower your acquisition costs.    

    Optimize your conversion funnel  

    Every cart abandonment deprives you of crucial subscriber revenue — and drives up your acquisition costs. Sure, you can’t keep everyone from getting distracted by TikTok halfway through a purchase. But auditing your conversion funnel will help you avoid the truly painful unforced errors (like a broken payment link).  

    Some places to start include:  

    • Use your website analytics solution to track views, clicks and bounces on each page of your subscription funnel. If bounces spike on one particular page, investigate. Test it for broken links, bad design or mobile-unfriendly formatting. In the absence of any obvious flaws, consider making the CTA more prominent, minimizing the page design or reducing the number of pages and form fields in your sign-up process.  
    • Make sure your subscription landing pages accurately reflect your ads and offers. Besides just having a consistent price and offer, also ensure that they have the same tone, branding and value propositions. This will help you attract the best-fit audience right away and reassure them that they’ll make the right decision by subscribing.  
    • Use heatmaps to see which parts of your conversion pages (landing pages, forms, etc.) get the most engagement, then place key messages in these spots. (Or if people are clicking FAQ or support links most often, add more information about your subscription package in the page itself.) 
    • Send abandoned cart emails to visitors that bounce halfway through completing a purchase. Also consider displaying an exit-intent pop-up with a special offer for anyone that’s about to click out of a conversion page.

    Worried about annoying your audience? On Omeda, you can target these pop-ups toward custom audiences (i.e., non-subscribers that have visited the website more than 5 times in a specific time period), so you can use pop-ups selectively without irritating your current subscribers or brand-new visitors.

    Use AI strategically  

    Expanding across channels is great, yes. But each new channel requires more copy, whether it’s for a social post or an ad. And you need more people to create that copy, approve the copy, etc. Besides requiring more staff, that also leeches time that could’ve been spent creating original content (aka, the stuff that actually makes people subscribe).  

    If you’re not automating part of that process, you risk complicating your workflows and inflating your costs further. That’s where AI can help.  

    We’re not telling you to outsource content creation to the bots. But using AI for repetitive tasks — like writing landing page copy — takes the manual labor out of the subscription promotion process and frees you up for more creative work.  

    Not sure where to start? Here’s how to incorporate AI into your subscription promotion workflows without impacting your content quality (or integrity).   

    • Generate 10 ideas for landing page copy, choose the winner and tweak slightly for your audience and targeting needs.  
    • Quickly create channel-specific summaries for an eBook or whitepaper that you’re promoting (i.e., a paragraph for your newsletter, a snippet for a meta-description on your website, etc.).  
    • Create 20+ ideas for promotional email subject lines, then pick the winner (or A/B test multiple options to see what audience responds to).  

    Use lead scoring to create differentiated top-, middle- and bottom-funnel ads  

     It’s important to tailor your messaging toward each individual visitor’s readiness to subscribe. We all know this, but it’s harder to execute. But if you can qualify each potential subscriber through an automated process, you can tailor your ads toward someone’s readiness to buy and improve the ROI of your promotional campaigns. Here’s how to do it:  

    • Use a lead scoring model to identify your most active non-subscribers. As you build your model, use the subscriber research you performed in step one to see what activities should have the most points. For instance, if your most loyal subscribers were more likely to download eBooks than read your newsletter before purchasing, assign more points to the former than the latter. (Just getting started? Learn how to create an effective lead scoring model here with a customer data platform here!) 
    • To ensure you’re identifying the right leads, make sure you’re using a lead scoring model that accounts for someone’s activity across every channel, from events and email to website, prints and ads. Note: This is possible through Omeda, since our lead scoring model takes in audience data from our customer data platform in real time. 
    • Create top-funnel, mid-funnel and bottom-funnel ads so you can match your messaging to each audience member’s readiness to subscribe.  
    • Use those ads in your paywalls and tailor them toward your top-, mid- and bottom-funnel audiences. With Omeda, you can target meters at custom audiences that you’ve already built in your database, so you can execute this campaign and adjust on the fly all through one platform.  

    Evaluate your paywalls  

    Paywalls are one of the highest risk/highest reward revenue levers in media. A smooth paywall-to-purchase process reinforces your publication’s value and generates income for your business. But if you’re gating the wrong content, your payment process is too clunky, or your value prop just falls flat? Your paywalls will be a cost center rather than a value add.   

    Make sure your paywalls are paying off with these tips:   

    • Put the right content behind paywalls. On Omeda, you can track impressions, clicks and conversions for each meter — and see who’s clicking which one. Use this to determine what content generates the most conversions and what appeals to each audience segment. Also refer to your website analytics solution to identify your most popular articles, writers and topics. (Omeda’s solution tracks referral sources, impressions, clicks and bounces for each page, and tells you who’s visiting each page.)
    • Increase your premium content visibility. If your traffic is high, but your conversions and subscriptions aren’t following suit, consider putting more of your posts behind paywalls. Don’t want to risk reducing your site traffic or ad impressions? In that case, you could reduce the number of pages people are able to view for “free” before being paywalled, rather than putting specific pages behind a meter. Or you could change the mix of content that’s metered. (Get gated content right with these best practices!)
    • Target your paywalls at the right audience. People need time to get to know your brand and realize your value before paying for a subscription. So if someone visits your site for the first time only to find a paywall, they’ll probably bounce rather than buy a subscription right away. But if they’ve already read a few articles, they’re more likely to convert once they come across your paywall. 

    By targeting your meters only at your repeat visitors, you can guide your more committed users toward conversions without turning away new visitors. That’s possible on Omeda: Since our content gating solution connects to your audience database, you can target your meters at custom audience segments. This way, you can target as precisely as possible and maximize your subscription revenue.  

    Not getting enough results from your paywalls? Learn the 5 biggest reasons why your paywalls are underperforming — and how to resolve each one — here 

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