Not all efforts to improve consumer marketing programs and your P&L have to be expensive, time-consuming initiatives. Cary Zel, president of circulation outsourcing firm ProCirc, says there are plenty of small and inexpensive projects, some bordering on common sense, that can have a direct effect on your bottom line, no matter what size publication you have.
While everybody loves customers who pay cash up front for their subscriptions, it isn’t as easy to upsell them as customers who are invoiced. One method: Use a cash acknowledgement response as an opportunity to slip in a subscription-extension offer as soon as the initial order comes in. “Many new business offers do not offer multiple years, so this is a way to get some customer-service brownie points while getting renewals in right off the bat,” says Zel.
There are other ways to hit up a customer for an order. Sprinkle offers wherever you can. For example, on an inbound customer-service call, if a problem is resolved to a customer’s satisfaction, make a special early renewal offer. Similarly, on the confirmation page of an online order, cross-promote another magazine or product. These are essentially low- or no-cost techniques that piggy-back on existing platforms.
Taking the time to refine your renewal efforts by source can pay off as well. “You can’t treat all renewals as the same,” says Zel. “By looking at each effort for each source you can fine-tune your efforts so that you are not wasting money on unresponsive groups and not leaving money on the table by underpromoting highly responsive groups.” As a result, adds Zel, publishers may find that it is only profitable to mail some agent sources three efforts and others four, but repeat renewals may still be profitable at seven or eight efforts.
Don’t give up on expires. According to Zel, they can be mailed to profitably in year one and are highly responsive. “Since the response rates are usually so high and the list cost is nothing, the P&L on the mailings to this group is often profitable right off the bat,” he says.
Similarly, just because a donor who gave gifts in previous years and didn’t renew last year doesn’t mean they’re not still a good source for gift renewals. Like expires, they’re a highly profitable source and a good way to build a robust gift business.