New Subscriber Acquisition

Company founder Phil Wiland and his team have been helping magazine, newspaper and newsletter publishers acquire new subscribers since the 1970s. No other company can match the depth and breadth of Wiland's capabilities or its unique dedication to the publishing industry. The company offers a wide variety of services to publishers, including "Acquiring New Subscribers". Technological innovation, massive data resources and excellent analytics capabilities enable Wiland to identify prospect audiences that respond at a good initial rate, renew at a rate that delivers superior long-term value, and bolster a title's position with the advertisers it serves. 

This unparalleled expertise is evidenced year after year by success in helping publishers identify and cultivate new subscribers who pay and renew. And now, new technological breakthroughs make these proprietary services more powerful than ever.

Whether your objective is to maintain rate base by replacing subscribers lost to expiration, or to increase rate base by adding more new subscribers than the number that expire, Wiland stands ready to help deliver a better future for publishing clients—a future of superior new subscriber acquisition campaigns that improve your bottom line and strengthen your brand.

Our Key Advantage: Unmatched Depth of Data

Our massive database has billions of transactionsWiland offers its publishing clients a tremendous advantage: a massive database that includes more Direct to Publisher (DTP) subscription information than exists anywhere else, plus transactional information—billions of transactions that reveal subscriber activities as consumers (the products they buy) and donors (the charities and political causes they support).  

This Wiland cooperative database, with over 2,500 participating clients, is unsurpassed in size and scope. In addition to its vast amount of transactional data, it contains demographic and psychographic data on virtually every direct responsive person in the United States, including about 160 million known subscriptions that are Direct-to-Publisher (DTP). The result is a robust, 360-degree view of subscriber behavior that enables Wiland to create new subscriber acquisition audiences that precisely identify the right prospects for a given title and reach them through a variety of marketing channels.  

For direct mail and email marketing, Wiland provides the audience and our client arranges distribution. In digital channels, Wiland Digital Solutions™ not only provides the prospect audience but also manages digital campaigns via the Wiland Digital Network™ utilizing Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and more than 30 other networks, reaching a publishing title's target audience via digital display, online video, mobile advertising and social media.

Wiland's Proprietary Prospect Audiences 

Wiland helps publishers identify and reach prospects who will subscribe, pay and renew at profitable rates. In pursuit of this goal, we offer two types of new subscriber acquisition audiences:    

Prospect Audiences Generated by Proprietary Wiland Response Models:

There are many methods for creating a predictive model, and various types of sample files are used in the associated analytical work. All of the Wiland Response Models listed below use actual new subscriber acquisition campaigns (for example, the net names mailed in a direct mail campaign) and the associated subscribers (those who subscribed as a result of the campaign) as the research sample. We typically study three distinct campaigns to create a single model.  

Acquisition Response Model. Draws upon all the publishing and transactional data in the Wiland database to uncover prospects with the highest likelihood of not only responding to your promotion, but also converting to paid subscribers. Driven by an analysis of net responders from past campaigns, this model is created using an advanced modeling methodology designed to produce optimal paid rates.  

Comprehensive Response Model. Identifies direct-to-publisher (DTP), direct-mail-sold (DMS) subscribers that possess characteristics similar to your direct responders utilizing a proprietary modeling algorithm. Validation across multiple promotions creates a stable model that identifies "pockets of success" often missed with traditional statistical techniques alone.  

Long-Term Subscriber Response Model. Identifies prospects that most closely resemble your repeat renewal subscribers by analyzing prior expire renewal campaigns. This model delivers a unique universe of prospects that will respond well initially and possess a strong tendency to renew in the future.  

Paid Renewers Response Model. Focuses on individuals who subscribed in a particular new subscriber acquisition campaign and have also renewed and paid. This model requires that the title be regularly providing all payment data to Wiland as part of their regular data updates.   The clients that are most successful using Wiland audiences to acquire new subscribers test all four of these response model types, and then utilize them in three ways:    

  • Send offers to everyone in Segment 1 after testing an Nth of it to prove that it performs well.    
  • Test at least Segment 2, and ideally Segment 3 and beyond. Clients often succeed well beyond Segment 1.    
  • Conduct a depth test. The depth test is meant to determine just how deep into the model universe the publisher can market successfully. How deep to test? Test deep enough that if the test is successful the universe could be 50% to 100% of the publisher's total new subscriber acquisition volume. Thus, if a title's new subscriber acquisition campaign typically reaches 500,000 individuals, then the depth test would test to depths corresponding to a range of 250,000 to 500,000 prospective subscribers. Similarly, if the title has 3,000,000 total prospect circulation in a campaign, then the depth test would test 1,500,000 to 3,000,000 deep. A publisher seeking excellent performance on large volumes would conduct a large depth test, anticipating that it will fall short of key performance metrics for success in the first test. But, despite falling short, the sizable test will create a sample file that Wiland can utilize to refine the model based on the results. This should improve future results, ultimately creating substantial successful volume. This "test deep and refine" methodology, for publishers who stick with it over several promotion cycles is what leads to the largest successful volume…and thus to subscriber growth or improved bottom line within a static rate base.  

Response models typically outperform profile models because they study two directly relevant questions: 1) When the title is marketed to a specific audience, who from that audience subscribed; and 2), how do those who subscribed differ from those who did not? Thus, the model-building research gets right to the heart of the issue: who subscribes and who does not.  

Prospect Audiences Generated by Proprietary Wiland Profile Models 

Unlike response models that analyze marketing campaigns and their associated responders, profile models analyze a subscriber base and identify audiences whose characteristics have a high affinity with the subscribers. The theory is that prospective subscribers who "look like" actual subscribers will be highly responsive. Repeated past success proves that it works.  

Active Subscriber (Best Subscriber) Model Uses advanced statistical techniques to identify prospects whose key characteristics most closely resemble those of your most recent subscribers. This model examines all publishing and transactional activity across the database, as well as key demographic and behavioral variables, to pinpoint DTP/DMS subscribers that are most likely to be interested in your publication.  

Long-Term Subscriber Model Uses statistical techniques to identify those prospects whose transactional history most closely matches that of your long-term subscribers, those who have renewed more than once. This model draws on the strength of your publication file, as well as publication and transactional history spanning the database.    

List Affinity Model Utilizes advanced techniques to identify the best prospects from subscriber lists that are highly correlated to yours. Lists are chosen based on key subscriber characteristics and statistically observed synergy with your subscriber base. A model is then developed to identify the most likely responders to your offer from within this universe of highly targeted active magazine subscribers.  

Comprehensive Correlation Model Built on the same proprietary modeling platform as the Comprehensive Response Model, but uses recent new-to-file subscribers rather than responders as input. Subscribers are compared to the overall database to identify prospects whose characteristics resemble those of your newest subscribers. The model uses dozens of powerful cross-industry variables and is validated across multiple data sets, resulting in excellent performance and stability.  

In addition to these proven models, Wiland offers other highly productive subscriber acquisition solutions. The Wiland Integrated Performance Series™ (WIPS) utilizes custom algorithms that assign a composite score to each subscriber in our database based on ranking across multiple models, revealing an integrated universe of the most responsive names for your campaign. This methodology offers three proven-successful approaches to new subscriber acquisition.  

Universal Performance Perfect for higher-volume marketers, Wiland builds a series of powerful models, which are brought together to identify a single universe of the very best prospect names for your acquisition efforts. Models are weighted by predicted performance, and subscribers are given a single rank based on scoring across all models—simplifying the ordering process and resulting in large, high-performing segments that are easy to test and read.  

Incremental Depth For marketers already mailing large volumes from multiple Wiland models, we will rank subscribers based on scoring across all models, enabling you to target incremental names that are likely to perform well. Ideal as a "best of the rest" approach to supplement your already successful Wiland models, this solution requires integration of at least three models beyond those being used extensively.  

Dynamic Interaction With this approach, we score subscribers in the database using two models and make selections based on the intersection of model segments. This popular selection methodology produces excellent results by enabling publishers to target their ideal audience based on two separate dependencies, such as content affinity and likelihood to respond.    

Measured Brand Advertising™ for Publishers

Wiland's Measured Brand Advertising™ is a unique solution designed to substantially enhance a publishing brand. It can drive success not just in new subscriber acquisition, but also in a general sense, by improving renewal rates and solidifying the target subscriber base makeup so that it appeals more to advertisers.  

Measured Brand Advertising™ includes a new subscriber acquisition component specifically designed to acquire highly desirable new DTP subscribers who will pay and renew at above average rates while also making the rate base more appealing to advertisers. We recommend that every publishing title test the Measured Brand Advertising™ methodology. It is discussed comprehensively in a separate Measured Brand Advertising™ article.  

The "acquiring new subscribers" component of the Measured Brand Advertising™ methodology is based on the fact that for every title there is a select group of potential subscribers who: 1) are Direct-to-Publisher (DTP) prone; 2) are likely to highly value the publication's editorial content; 3) meet demographic and psychographic criteria that are desirable to potential advertisers; and 4) are likely to subscribe, pay and renew at an above average rate. The same is true for current subscribers: some are prime and some are not. Prime subscribers are those who renew without extreme discounts and have demographic/psychographic characteristics that make them appealing to advertisers. Measured Brand Advertising™ involves identifying the prime audience for a title, both subscribers and prospects, and then focusing on it not as a list test but as a strategy that increases awareness within the prime audience, leading to higher subscription rates, higher renewal rates, earlier renewal, and a subscriber base that is more appealing to advertisers. It absolutely is not an audience test. It is a brand enhancement strategy.  

The Measured Brand Advertising™ process begins with a simple conversation during which we ask a few questions about who the publisher wants its subscribers to be – questions such as maximum age of a desirable new subscriber, and the extent to which the title would like new subscribers to be internet transactors. We then use the answers to these questions in conjunction with our Paid Renewers Model™ to create the brand's unique Measured Brand Advertising™. It includes prospects who are prime in several respects: likely to subscribe, likely to pay, likely to renew and likely to enhance the brand in the eyes of advertisers. It also includes prime active and expired subscribers.  

This prime audience is strategically contacted using Wiland Digital Solutions™. Brand-focused online ads (static or animated display, video, mobile or social media) are served to individuals in the prime audience wherever they are found online throughout the vast Wiland Media Network™ that includes Facebook, Google, Yahoo, MSN and more than 30 other ad networks, creating the possibility of bidding on over 1,000,000 advertising opportunities per second. Ads are served at a cadence determined in advance by the publisher and Wiland (once a minute, once an hour, once a day, etc.)  

Measured Brand Advertising™ is extremely flexible. A publishing title can target a tiny audience and have a tiny budget, such as $500 per month. Or, it can target a huge audience. It can reach its prime audience anywhere they are online, or reach them only at contextually appropriate web sites. It can be continuous (which is what we recommend, because continuous exposure is what will eventually cause a title to be top of mind for highly desirable subscribers and potential subscribers), or it can be periodic. Cadence can be frequent (such as once per hour) or infrequent (perhaps once per week), or any frequency in between. The key is simply this: Measured Brand Advertising™ can make your brand known to and more respected by exactly the audience of subscribers and potential subscribers that are ideal for the title in question. Every title should utilize Measured Brand Advertising™, even if the budget is extremely small.  

A portion of the prime audience is set apart as a holdout group in Measured Brand Advertising™ campaigns. As a result, the effectiveness of marketing campaigns utilizing the Measured Brand Advertising™ can be precisely measured and optimized over time. But the measurement period is not short. The question with Measured Brand Advertising™ is not "how many new subscribers did we get in a 30 day window". Rather, it is "over a period of 1-3 years, did individuals who were served Measured Brand Advertising™ ads subscribe, renew, and pay at a superior rate, and are they superior subscribers from an ad sales viewpoint." Thus, the titles that pursue Measured Brand Advertising™ should be ones that are willing to commit budget to brand enhancement, creating a better, stronger, more profitable brand over time.  

Measured Brand Advertising™ is new. It is different. It is tomorrow. It is designed to deliver a better future for published titles. It demonstrates Wiland's innovative leadership in helping publishers find success in a continuously evolving, multi-channel marketplace. Yet, it is inexpensive. Don't overlook it. Alone, it won't deliver the new subscribers you need to meet rate base next week – but it will gradually improve your rate base over time, delivering a better future for the title.  

Multichannel Audiences

Every model type discussed in sections 1 and 2, above, can be employed to create audiences for any channel. Direct mail, display, video, mobile, and social – we provide audiences designed for any or all of these channels.         

For the direct mail channel we prepare the prospect audience and send it to a reliable service provider, typically for input to merge/purge. In the other channels, our full range of Wiland Digital Solutions™ are available to reach target audiences – and we manage the entire digital campaign, seeking to achieve or surpass an agreed-upon key metric.

The optimum strategy a publisher should pursue in working with Wiland is to educate us concerning the title, its strengths, its weaknesses, its problems, its opportunities—and then work with us to find the right target audiences to be tested across multiple marketing channels.  

A key point: many publishers have spent decades refining their direct mail subscriber acquisition offers, but are new to developing digital subscriber acquisition offers. If a title does not yet have proven digital offers this shortcoming should not cause the title to be inactive in the digital channels. Rather, they should keep their digital budget small and use Wiland Digital Solutions™ to test, learn, and refine until the right combination of offer, ad, and landing page are determined. Only then should large digital budget be allocated.

Wiland is all about measurement, regardless of channel, and our digital services are no exception. Our systems are built with holdout samples in order to prove whether digital subscriber acquisition is working or not working. Digital is a key part of the future. If digital works immediately, roll it out. If it doesn't, stay small, test, learn, and refine until it does work. Tomorrow may depend on getting good at digital now.

More Solutions: Reaching Beyond Wiland's Proprietary Prospect Audiences

The methodologies and models described above all draw new subscriber acquisition audiences from Wiland's cooperative database, which includes virtually every direct responsive person in the United States. These audiences can be sufficient to meet the entirety of a title's new subscription acquisition needs. But sometimes clients have additional requirements for their acquisition strategies. Here are some of the additional ways we develop effective new subscriber acquisition audiences drawn from other sources.  

Specific List Optimization

Sometimes a publisher has utilized a list that performs marginally or inconsistently. It may be an outside list (rented or exchange). It may be a list of online inquirers. It may be a sister title, owned by the same company. Or, it may be a compiled list. Whatever the source, Wiland can optimize it by finding the responsive segments within it—and equally important—inform the publisher which portions of the list would likely represent a poor investment from a marketing ROI perspective.  

Net File Optimization

Most titles, on some cycle, order lists or audiences from multiple sources and run a merge/purge process that results in a net file with duplicates eliminated. They send the net file to a printer (if the campaign is direct mail) or to another service provider if using email, telemarketing, display advertising, or another channel.

Net files always contain individuals who do not merit the marketing investment required to promote to them. These bad prospects are all mixed in with the good ones, obscured from view. The portion of the net file that is not worth promoting varies widely, from a low of 5% to a high of 50% or more. Typical is 10% to 25%. Do you really want to waste 10% to 25% of your new subscriber acquisition budget?

Wiland can separate the good prospects from the bad, so that marketing budget that would have been spent on people who won't respond sufficiently can be saved, falling to the bottom line, or be deployed in a more productive manner via Wiland Digital Solutions™ or some other marketing program.

Once we have ranked the names on a net file, the publisher has several options: drop them and reduce the marketing spend; drop them and replace with higher-scoring Wiland names; redeploy the saved budget to a Wiland-managed digital campaign that reaches an even larger audience; redeploy the budget to a campaign that Wiland doesn't manage; or, some combination of these options. Regardless of how the saved marketing budget is utilized, the key is this: don't waste your marketing budget on bad prospects just because they happen to survive the merge/purge process and thus be on your net file.  

Balance Modeling

Sometimes, particularly in the direct mail channel, a publisher needs to achieve a specific audience volume. Let's say, for example, that the publisher purchased 2,000,000 envelopes and printed 2,000,000 letters and other mail package components to be inserted in the envelopes. They ordered lists that, based on experience, were expected to result in a 2,000,000-name merge/purge net file. But it doesn't turn out as expected. The merge/purge net file is significantly larger or smaller than 2,000,000. What to do? The answer is clear.  

If there are not enough names Wiland can provide "balance" names that leave campaign volume perfectly matched with available materials. If there are too many names on the merge/purge net file Wiland can optimize it (see Net File Optimization) to the specific desired quantity.  

If there are too many names, use Marketing Budget Optimization™ for Publishers to drop the weakest ones.

We're Here to Help

Magazine, newspaper and newsletter publishing is a vital component of our culture. Publishers connect people to information regarding the things they care about. They connect people to other parts of the country and other parts of the world that they may never visit in person. Publications teach. They inform. And they inspire.  

We are committed to helping publishers thrive in today's challenging and evolving marketplace by improving their subscriber base and supporting their brands. Through the identification of audiences that subscribe, pay and renew at above average rates, we seek to insure the financial viability and editorial vitality of every publication we serve.  

Contact us today to learn more about our entire suite of subscription acquisition and other publishing industry services. We are here to help.

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