#Outlook2010: Don’t forget your print subscribers, says Associated Newspapers

Last week Journalism.co.uk attended the INMA and Online Publishers Association (OPA) Europe’s annual conference Outlook 2010 – the event focused on innovation, transformation and making money for media businesses. Follow our coverage at this link.

As the news media searches for viable business models for online and new revenue streams in the form of pay walls, members clubs and micropayments, the humble print newspaper subscriber may have been overlooked.

Such was the argument of Associated Newspapers’ circulation director Neil Jagger who explained to delegates how his group targeted home delivery (‘not the sexiest beast in the world’) as a revenue source.

At the start of this drive, there were around 2 million home delivery customers for UK newspapers – with the Daily Mail accounting for around 500,000 of those, explained Jagger.

Using a retail sales force of 30, Associated built up a 1.3 million-strong database of addresses  of newspaper subscribers not signed up with the Daily Mail by approaching retailers directly for the information.

These 1.3 million were sent a direct mail offering a range of subscription packages and vouchers if they signed up. The result was a 2 per cent take up (27,000 agreed to have the paper home delivered).

Not satisfied with this the team moved onto telesales offering the same package as the direct mail, which had a 7 per cent conversion rate (59,000 signed up).

Finally, Associated is using 200 canvassers selling home delivery subscriptions door-to-door and has so far generated 70,000 sign for an initial three-month period.

Following this push the Daily Mail has gained 156,000 new customers, says Jagger – an opportunity created by building this database of non-subscribers, using available information in a way that other publishers had not done previously.

Not all of the new recipients have stayed with the paper, admits Jagger, but, from the 156,000, 81 per cent are staying for 6 months after initially agreeing; while 64 per cent are staying 18 months or more.

“Once we’ve got these customers we’ve got to keep them,” explains Jagger and customers are sent loyalty packs, alternative subscription offers or money-off vouchers.

“We just don’t want to lose those customers.”

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