Seven ways to establish reader loyalty and increase customer profitability

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You know the old adage, “It's much less expensive to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one?” Well, it's never been truer than in today's economy. It is critical that publishers establish reader loyalty to retain their subscribers and continue to find ways to increase the profitability of a customer. There are innumerable ways to accomplish this, but below I've focused on seven ways that you can boost subscriber loyalty and profitability.

One idea is to send a pre-issue e-mail that summarizes the contents of the publication. These e-mails get your subscribers excited about the content for a particular issue. The e-mail can also contain a viral component, enabling subscribers to forward it to others who might be interested in the issue's topics.

Give readers a “just because.” Subscribers want to know that you appreciate them, so give them a freemium “just because” they are a valued customer. If you show them you appreciate their loyalty, they will stay loyal.

To build even more loyalty, build something else: a killer Web site. We live in a multichannel world, so it is critical to offer your subscribers a killer site that solicits interactivity. The site should also offer unique content that the reader does not get from the magazine. Time is a perfect example: The site is focused on reporting news, while the print publication offers insight and analysis to the news.

Make relevant product offers. Send subscribers product offers that are based on their transactional history with your publication. You should also provide cross-sell/combo offers. Getting your readers to subscribe to multiple titles certainly increases profitability and loyalty. For example, I am a current Runner's World subscriber and was offered “The Complete Guide to Running” by Rodale, the publisher of the magazine. Because it was relevant to me, I bought the book — which I'm sure was extremely profitable to the publisher. In addition to the book I purchased and the subscription to Runner's World, I also subscribe to Men's Health, which, in turn, offered me an exclusive subscription to Best Life — all of which were relevant and all of which I bought.

Remind subscribers why they love you. Resell the benefits of the magazine in your subscriber communications, and give them a forum to share that love. One way to encourage that kind of sharing is to give subscribers the opportunity to give the publication to others with a two-for-one gift offer.

Peter Stein is the director of business development at Canterbury Graphics Strategic Marketing, a privately held direct-marketing agency specializing in the strategy, design and production of direct marketing campaigns. Reach him at

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