The end of last year saw the PPA (in association with Dovetail and Wessenden Marketing) release a fascinating report into the future of magazine subscriptions.

Though it naturally stimulates debate around the subscription model, it also raises some valuable points that direct marketers should take note of…

Engage across all platforms

Not entirely new news, but the findings are compelling:

Multi-platform consumers are among the most attractive in terms of their spending and consumption patterns, as are multi-platform buyers.

Essentially, people still love printed mags, but those who use digital channels to also consume content are the highest spenders. But beware: they also spend on other non-publishing subs too (Spotify et al), so are liable to cut back at times. Nurture them well, across all channels. 

Mobile is key

Again, nothing ground-breaking. But mobile-optimised campaigns should be standard practice, and it’s surprising how many we see that aren’t. 

The report highlights how 51% of digitally active subscribers rely on email as a channel to engage with magazine brands. Compare that with just 12% who rely on social networks. So fully-optimised emails are a particular must! 

Easy cancellation

The Netflix effect seems to pervade every marketplace, and here it emerges as a factor in decreasing consumer tolerance to being “locked in” to subscriptions.

The interesting take-out is that people often see cancellation as a break, rather than something permanent. So for marketers, this presents an opportunity to change tactics and offer easier switching off and on of subscriptions. It’d certainly go down well with those surveyed, anyway.

Quality control

“You’d better improve your website dramatically. Right now it’s just a waste of time”

An actual quote from an actual person. Making the point that the quality of magazine design and content is often very high, but other assets – particularly digital – don’t always match. 

You guys set the bar high in print! So you only have yourselves to blame. But seriously, as everything goes multi-platform and multi-channel, let’s not lose anything in terms of quality threshold. Even the tiniest banner ad. 

B2B personalisation

For the B2B publishers out there, the report notes that though companies tend to pay for subscriptions based on improving the performance of the business, the real motivation is actually the value to the individual. 

We see a lot of this already with added benefits like seminars etc, so keep up the good work!

So – hopefully that’s some food for thought. The great news is that magazine consumption is pretty buoyant. 74% of those surveyed are reading the same amount or more, compared to last year.

We’ll leave you with our favourite quote from the report: 

“The process of identifying and optimising the consumer sweetspots is essential to subscription marketing, but it is clear that developing both multi-platform and multi-channel relationships with consumers is essential.”