How Haymarket Media Increased Paid Subscriptions by 56%
Ten years ago, traffic was the number one KPI for media businesses — If you got enough buzz, eventually the business would follow. But as shown by the recent bankruptcies of social media-dominant organizations like Buzzfeed News and Vice, traffic doesn’t pay the bills.
To succeed in today’s media landscape, you need to convert those website visitors into long-term readers and paid subscribers. But that’s easier said than done in a digital-first landscape. People have become accustomed to reading content for free — and they’re reluctant to invest in a publication before being able to read what’s inside.
But through a free trial, you can demonstrate your publication’s value and expertise before making the hard sell. If your targeting, metering and payment strategies are all in place, free trials can pave the way toward paid subscriptions — and a sustainable source of revenue.
In this case study, we’re highlighting Haymarket Media and its efforts to convert free website visitors into paid subscribers.
By using Omeda’s content metering and subscription management solutions, Haymarket was able to showcase the value of their publication and increase paid subscriptions by 56%. Learn how they did it next:
About Haymarket Media
Haymarket Media Group is a global media, data and information company headquartered in London, with online and print publications in the consumer, business and customer sectors. Its portfolio includes more than 70 market-leading brands including PRWeek, What Car?, Campaign, MyCME and Asian Investor, PrintWeek, Advisor and more.
Haymarket Media had two primary goals: increase paid subscriptions for one of its publications, PRWeek.com, and expose their audience to more of Haymarket’s newsletters, special reports, live events and other offerings.
By using Omeda’s content metering and subscription management tools, Haymarket was able to convert more of their free audience into paid subscribers — while also generating new contacts
Process: The Omeda Solution
Haymarket overhauled its subscription strategy in three steps:
- The Haymarket team used Omeda’s metering tools to create a hard paywall, which restricted the majority of PRWeek.com’s digital content to paid subscribers. Haymarket provided 30 days of unlimited access to new visitors before prompting them to buy a paid subscription.
- To do this, they updated Webforms to allow for a monthly subscription and created a free term order. They also updated the timing of their auto-renewals on Omeda so that each user’s credit card was charged at the end of the 30-day trial (if it had not already been canceled).
- Once the form and auto-renewal suite was set up, the Haymarket team promoted the free trial via email and their website.
Since launching its free trial program, Haymarket Media has seen a major lift in free trial conversions and paid subscriptions. This includes:
- They had a 56.2% annual increase in paid subscriptions from April 2022 to March 2023.
- During this period, 64.7% of free trial participants ultimately converted to paid subscriptions.
- Besides increasing paid subscriptions, Haymarket saw an 18% monthly increase in single article registrations (users submit their contact information in exchange for one article per month). This allowed them to generate more first-party data and contacts, whom they could target with additional promotional efforts.
Watch the full session here:
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See full transcript
Story, we’re going to be talking about converting free trials to paid. And I have with me Eric Fusco. He is the Senior Audience Development Manager at Haymarket, and we’re going to be talking about how they converted free trials to paid. So thank you again first off, Eric, of course, for coming up here and telling about your team’s success. So if you could just start us out with what was the goal and how did this campaign of giving them free trials and then trying to convert them to paid come about?Eric Fusco:
So thanks to a number of factors, not least of which was COVID, we saw a steady decline in our paid subscriptions and therefore the revenue. And we were tasked by senior leadership to reverse this trend and to increase our sales by at least 10%. So we took a look at… Did you know we’re all data nerds? We took a look at our data, we looked at that there was a great engagement and a great site traffic of a lot of the same people coming back to the site every month to use their allotment of metered content that they could get for free. And once they hit it, then they would wait 30 days and come back again. So we made a decision, do we increase marketing to them or do we make all of our content gated and paid for? Spoiler, we went for the second one and to great success. To great success. Then what happened?So after taking a look of how we were going to do that, we had to enact a plan. We didn’t really reinvent the wheel. We put a hard gate on the site, we put advertising on the site, but we need a seamless operation to take someone from our site where they could sign in, pay, get access to the site, and then not charge them for 30 days. So at that point, we turned it over to the experts at Alida, along with the Haymarket development team worked together to build that process, which Marcus could tell us more about.Marcus:
Yeah, so at that point with Eric, with the hard gate then was the process was to go to the forms and we updated the forms to convert or to have subscribers go for a free 30 day trial. And what they would do is they would fill it out just like a regular subscription. We would tell them, “Hey, they’re going to sign up for a 30 day and then they would be charged.” They’re going to fill in their credit card information. We’re not going to charge them at that point, but we’re going to put them on as a free term order. And when that occurs, then they’ll stay on for 30 days. And we updated our settings so that they’re automatically charged through auto-renew at that 30 day period. So again, setting this up, and as Eric had said, doing the hard gate, that’s not enough. So Eric, can you tell them a bit about some of the marketing tactics?Eric Fusco:
So we took what we called an every screen approach so that on every possible contact that we had with our audience, there was a subscription offer. We had banner ads, we had email campaigns, we had advertisements on the site. We did cross promotions at the footer of all of our emails telling people, free trial, free trial, free trial. The best thing that worked though was the… So back it up.
What we did is we, for each portal on the site, had its own unique identifier so we could see which one was converting the best. We had the header, we have the footer, we have what we see behind me is the gate level, or I’m sorry, the article level. If you click on it and you get a little teaser, and this is where you should sign in or sign up, even though it does say subscribe on there, that floating red banner at the bottom of the screen that says free trial, 85% of all the inquiries come in through that far and away more than anything else even more than the upper right-hand corner where it says free trial. That’s the one that stops them. That’s the one that gets them to convert.
Yeah, which was surprising. And that’s why we say just test, because you never know where you’re going to get those results and those conversions. So Eric, obviously you’re up here. So there was a success. So can you tell them a bit, we’ve had it running for about a year now.
Yes. From a… this is the important part. I don’t want to screw up any of these numbers. So from April 22 till March 23, subs were up 56%. Trial conversions were up 67% and paid revenue was up 68%. So yeah, thank you.
Yeah, so quite the success, and again, I think you shattered your goals.
And when this was reported to senior leadership, they said, “That’s great, let’s make that goal even higher.” So I’m here trying to get ideas from all of you of what we’re going to do next year.
Yeah. Yeah. And that’s great. And again, thank you Eric for coming up here and congrats to you and your team. So thank you all.