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Developing a Subscription and Membership Offering

Affino Subscription and Memberships Series Part 1
Affino Subscription and Memberships Series Part 1

Subscriptions and Memberships have a host of major benefits over the traditional approach of selling individual or bundled ads, individual event and award tickets, and separate content and data subscription services.


Bundling access to content, data, networking, and events in membership tiers has the opportunity to be more profitable, scalable, and reliable.


Businesses will buy subscriptions if they provide a set of tools to help them do their work, e.g. access to data, insight, research. Membership allows for access to a whole set of content, events, data as opposed to a single piece or research. This is a big incentive.


The starting point when exploring this approach is almost always going to be the audience engagement data by ensuring that you have a registration wall in place, and are collecting the interests and permissions to further engage with your audience down the line.


Identify what is the most engaging content and events for each segment of your audience.


Focus on Digital and the Audience

When rolling out a paid for subscription or membership offering, it pays to focus on digital discovery and delivery.


This is because on the whole digital tends to be more profitable, scalable, engaging, and provide a more in-depth set of intel on which to grow your business further.


Ensure that you have a focus on a specific audience segments, so that if you are pulling together a diverse set of services, events and content into one or more subscription or membership offerings that you shape this to match the audience, rather than vice versa. This approach also maximizes the value for your subscription and membership prospects.


Start with the Data, which means a Registration Wall

The starting point is to understand your audience, who they are as a whole, and what are the primary cohorts. You can identify the cohorts by their job titles, interests and behaviour patterns.


Within each cohort you will look to understand what content, events, interactions, and data they are looking for.


You will then want to take that discovery process further and identify the interests and behaviours on a company and individual basis.


To achieve this level of data you will need to implement a registration / engagement wall on your site.


We recommend a two-tier approach, starting with a minimal registration where you capture the permission to track them and have the basic email address, name and possibly one data point on their role or interest.


This basic level should give your users access to a restricted number of articles and data sets.


We then recommend a second tier where the users have full access, but in return for more demographic data, and possibly higher-level permissions as well.


It is that data which will inform you which individuals, cohorts, and organisations are most interested in your content, data and events, and therefore most likely to benefit from a membership.


Without the data, any subscription and membership offering you pull together will be much more hit and miss as you will miss out on all the position and organisation specific intel, as well as understanding who are the most engaged and influential members of your community.


We recommend a minimum of three months data as the starting point before you look to nail down any further elements of your service as it is crucial to be data informed.


What goes into the subscription or membership service

There are three key elements which are readily available to media companies to pull together for subscription and membership services. These are: content, events and data.


Not all content is equal when delivering a membership service, depending on your audience and the cohorts therein the following content types tend to be the most engaging and likely to convert and retain members.


Content value add

Fast News - for many organizations, fast targeted news is the key driver and motivator for subscriptions, especially where highly valuable commodities are traded quickly.


Deep Insight - providing meaningful and well researched pieces not only delivers high value, it is frequently content which cannot be pulled together outside of a consultancy or media organization.


Personal Development - individuals are frequently looking to self-improve or indeed advance their earnings or careers. Providing the study and learning resources they need, especially in specialist areas can be a powerful hook. This area also opens up memberships to the learning, development and training budgets.


Business Development - senior managers are equally looking for competitive advantages, to develop their careers, departments, and grow their business. Targeted content in this area is a must for B2B c-suite memberships.


Event value add

Included / Discounted Event Tickets - a desirable element of any membership for those organisations which are running events (virtually as well as in person) is to bundle these in to the overall service offering, especially for higher tier memberships. These not only provide more value add but act as a key driver for larger and ongoing event series.


Member Exclusive Events - if you already have a powerful brand, or as your brand develops then exclusive events can become an increasingly powerful driver, especially if you have the key industry movers and shakers within your membership.


Data value add

Exclusive access to data, including from audience surveys. Data services are never lightly undertaken (as they are expensive to develop and maintain) but when you get them right they can be the key driver for high end and niche subscription services, especially if the data is hard to come by.


Networking value add

Creating online and in-person networking spaces and opportunities, and leveraging the network effect is a crucial benefit that pushes deals over the line and is a strong retention card. Being part of an elite community, sharing insight and collaboration is a key value add for corporate subscriptions. Kudos can equally be an important factor in companies investing in memberships.


Evolving the value add

Whilst the above typically form the basis of the initial membership or subscription offering, in addition to these the big jump in value add comes when you add consultancy and trading services into the mix.


Well framed, targeted and sold subscription and membership services can be transformational to long term stability and revenues. They can also be the catalyst for growing those streams both in terms of breadth and depth, and also for international expansion as the network effect pushes them forward.

Affino Subscription and Membership Insight Series

This insight piece is one of a series where we explore creating new subscription and membership offerings, rolling them out and then growing them over time.

For a more in-depth conversation please reach out either to myself of Jonathan Collins, your project manager, alternatively you can reach through the forums to your support team.

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