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Todd Kellner

Selling Subscriptions Online
By Todd Kellner

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One of the hottest questions flying around email publisher discussion lists and our own Ezine-Tips feedback box has been the following:

"Given the current advertising climate, would I be smart to convert my advertising-based free ezine into a subscription-based paid ezine?"

As an email newsletter publisher distributing content *based* on email newsletter publishing, I'm doubly interested in this question. I've scoured the Internet looking for practical information regarding this subject. By far the best resource I've found is Anne Holland's ContentBiz, part of the MarketingSherpa network.

Last May, MarketingSherpa and Digital Publishing Data hosted the Selling Subscriptions To Internet Content workshop in Washington, DC. The speakers included representatives from Consumer Reports, and Hoovers, three of the top five paid-subscription content providers online.

For those unable to attend, a 250-page print report is available. I got my hands on a copy as soon as it came out and headed straight for and Hoovers. It makes sense to me that powerful offline brands like the Wall Street Journal or Consumer Reports could make the successful jump to paid online subscriptions, but what about these comparative unknowns?

I found by cross-indexing the eight presenters that there apparently is no real "formula" to setting up a successful paid subscription program. Sure, there are several truisms (such as niche domination), but this report is most helpful as an inside look at what the powerhouses have done to overcome the "no one pays for content online" problem, including conversion rates, costs per subscriber acquisition and innovative marketing strategies.

At $199, this report is not suited for those of you with just a passing interest in the subject. Also, if you're looking for a step-by-step guide to setting up your paid subscription ezine, the report does not spell this out -- as I mentioned before, easy answers seem to be elusive. If you are seriously considering the move to paid subscription, however, this is the best resource out there.

Because feedback continues to pour in regarding this issue, and because our editorial team and I believe in it as the top resource in the marketplace, I contacted Anne about taking on "Selling Subscriptions Online" as an affiliate. It has a money-back guarantee; so, if you're dissatisfied with the information, you can return it and get reimbursed.

Ezine-Tips for August 01, 2001

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