Reactivating Expired Subscribers

Reactivation of expired subscribers may seem like a simple topic, and in many ways it isn't very complicated. Many publishers simply follow the practice of marketing to expired subscribers regularly after they expire, tracking response, and reducing the frequency of promotions as there is more and more time elapsed since expiration. This works, it is the easiest thing to do, and it activates a lot of expires. But it isn't optimum for two reasons: expires are not of equal quality from an advertising sales viewpoint; and some will never renew, so marketing budget spent trying to renew them is wasted.  

The reasons for expiration are many and varied. Some expired because they didn't enjoy the publication. Others loved it but decided they didn't have time for it. Some were very busy and lost track of the fact that they needed to renew. Some moved, didn't notify the publisher, and will renew as soon as reminded at their new address. Others moved to a new geographical location or a stage of life where the title is no longer relevant. Some are subscription hoppers—they read one publication for a while, drop it, and then read another. Others never really wanted the publication in the first place; it was free with something they bought, or the cute little girl next door sold it to them. As a rule, publishers deeply regret losing subscribers who paid for their subscription quickly and have demographics that fit the profile desired by advertisers. While failing to renew subscribers that paid slowly, required a deep discount, and/or were inconsistent with the profile that advertisers' desire is not lamented.  

Optimizing the Subscriber Reactivation Process

Optimization of the subscriber reactivation process, in our view, has three objectives:    

  1. Be willing to spend a little more to reactivate expires that are highly desirable from an advertising sales viewpoint.    
  2. Avoid reactivating at a loss any expire that is unlikely to have good Long-Term Value (LTV). It is better to spend the marketing budget finding desirable new subscribers.    
  3. Avoid waste of marketing budget attempting to renew those who are very unlikely to renew.  

Wiland offers two approaches to accomplishing these objectives.  

Option 1: Streamlined Expire Reactivation

Streamlined Expire Reactivation is a service we have provided for years. We develop a predictive model that ranks expired subscribers based on how likely they are to renew and pay for the renewed subscription. Our client tests the expired subscribers from the top down, marketing as deep into the modeled universe as is successful. This addresses the 2nd and 3rd objectives listed above. It finds renewals, and it avoids losses from marketing to weak segments of the expired subscriber universe.  

Option 2: Wiland Expire Classifications  

For titles that want to accomplish all three objectives we utilize Wiland Expire Classifications.

Wiland Expire Classifications divide an expired subscriber file into nine distinct groups based on two factors: probability of renewing and advertiser desirability. Cell "A", as illustrated in the above graphic, is the most desirable portion of an expired subscriber file. Expires in Cell "A" are likely to renew at a relatively high rate and are very desirable from the viewpoint of advertising sales. Conversely, expires in Cell "I" are undesirable from an ad sales viewpoint and are very expensive to renew.  

As a starting point, we recommend that expires in the green shaded cells are worthy of marketing investment and those in pink cells are not. These groups should be tested to determine actual effectiveness. We can vary the definition of how high an expired subscriber must score in the model to be considered "High" in responsiveness. The key is this: don't throw good money at renewing unresponsive groups that are undesirable from an ad sales viewpoint.  

Creating the Wiland Expire Classifications for a particular title is not difficult. Completing responsiveness axis is a simple matter of scoring the audience with our Paid Renewers Model and deciding on break points (for example, Segments 1-4 may be "High", Segments 5-8 "Moderate" and Segments 9-20 "Low". Exact break points are determined by our Client Services Staff. The Advertiser Desirability axis requires client consultation. One simple approach is to use Age and Household Income. For example, if Age 30-59 is desirable and Estimated Household Income over $100,000 is desirable then "High" would be individuals who meet both of these criteria, moderate would be individuals who meet one but not the other, and Low would be expired subscribers who don't meet either criterion.

When to Begin Optimizing

Many publishers market extensively to expiring subscribers during the period of time immediately prior to expiration and shortly after expiration, often using little or no selectivity except for the date of expiration. This timeframe, when the expiration is recent, clearly is the best time to get someone to renew. Many titles begin with a rapid succession of renewal offers to everyone in the expiration pool. Then, after response to reactivation declines, they begin some form of selection, such as Wiland modeling, to identify the best candidates to receive additional renewal offers. The biggest opportunity for a publisher to save money may be in the early period immediately after expiration – or even earlier. For example, investing in renewal offers to subscribers and expires in Cell "I" may always be a mistake. Bottom line: Wiland is ready to begin optimizing at any point in the cycle.

Reactivation Channels

How should a title deliver reactivation offers to subscribers?  

First, virtually every title has an established, proven renewal methodology in place. We don't want to disrupt it very much, if at all. Keep doing whatever is working now to renew subscribers while they are still active.  

Second, if the title has a direct mail offer that works for new subscriber acquisition and/or expire renewal, Wiland can simply score the expired subscribers as discussed above and they can receive the same offer.  

Third, Wiland Digital Solutions™ also offers publishers a unique opportunity to serve digital ads to expiring and expired subscribers, precisely targeting messages to them when they are online—wherever they may go online. Offers can vary from one group to another (for example, each of the Wiland Expire Classifications could see a different ad/offer). Wiland Digital Solutions™ leverages the same in-depth consumer data used in our other direct marketing solutions, so publishers can deploy truly integrated, multi-channel reactivation campaigns.

Leveraging the Power of the Wiland Cooperative Database

Looking beyond simple RFM methodologies, Wiland applies the deep and precise insights of its industry-best cooperative database to inform the reactivation process. With transaction data regularly supplied by our 2,500+ clients, this database enables us to understand the reading, buying, and giving behavior of virtually every adult in the U.S., including over 160 million direct-to-publisher subscriptions. It is this data, in conjunction with our advance analytical techniques, which allows us to produce superior results for our publishing clients.

We're Here to Help

Wiland companies have been helping publishers optimize their reactivation campaigns for more than 40 years. We continue to lead the industry with the most advanced technology, unrivaled expertise, and the best strategic thinking. Call us today to learn more about subscriber reactivation or any other audience objectives. We are here to answer your questions, help you get started with a low-cost test of our methodologies, or simply explore opportunities.

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