The Guardian seems to be catching on a bit to subscription marketing.The bastion of free content, in partnership with sister paper The Observer, has created a special Christmas edition for the iPad, promoting it with a two-week free trial to its email lists:
Previously, the paper was getting a 2% conversion rate with a three-month trial, which is way too long for a B2C site to initiate a credit card charge without massive chargebacks and cancels — subscribers are likely to forget they even agreed to pay for content after three months of free access. But two weeks, especially with a timely seasonal edition, is a more reasonable duration that lets prospects get a special incentive and sample regular content in the new year.Also, Apple’s new rules allowing trials (instead of “lite” versions) will lead to higher conversions since Apple will automatically charge any trial-taker after the two week mark unless s/he cancels.However, there are still two downfalls. One,the purchases must be made inside the app, so the app is listed as “free” on the Apple iTunes page. Confusing pricing models (not to mention far-from-optimized conversion pages) are not a good thing.Secondly, Apple will not release credit card numbers to publishers, likely making attrition high due to expired cards. The way around this, as detailed in Subscription Site Insider‘s How-To on Selling Subscription Apps through Apple, is to take tablet and mobile subscription orders through your own website, which allows you to keep credit card numbers and other information in your CRM and then notify Apple to release the app for your subscribers. But sadly, the Guardian has not made that an option.