Most Subscription Sites Are Breaking US Laws: The Perils of Autorenews and Trial Offers

I've been involved in selling and reporting on selling online subscriptions since 1995. On a daily basis. So I'm kinda freaked out by all the new stuff I'm learning as we work with specialist attorney Lisa Dubrow on our upcoming virtual workshop Laws on Recurring Billing & Trial Subscriptions: How to Avoid Trouble. There are more laws and regulations on autorenewals for online subscriptions than I ever suspected. California just enacted a new one this month…

B2B Premium Niche News Publisher Says His #1 Subscription Marketing Tactic Isn’t Online

He's got a great Twitter following, a strong opt-in email list and solid SEO for keywords that count in his industry... but publisher Dan McGovern of the premium b2b news site, Sustainable Food News, told us in an exclusive interview for our Case Study this week that an offline marketing tactic is what sells the most subscriptions. Turns out Dan's most important subscription marketing tactic is getting on a plane and personally attending as many industry…

How Wikipedia’s Missing Out on Substantial Funding

Every year at about this time, Wikipedia runs site-wide ads pitching for donations. There's a tasteful series of photos of Jimmie Wales making his personal appeal and then an offer for the amount of your choice from $20-$250. You can give via the form or through a wide variety of avenues. But, unless you've integrated Wikimedia into your payroll deductions (which is, frankly, a bit much) you can't opt to have your credit card charged…

4 Common Recurring Billing Mistakes TechSmith Makes: How NOT to Handle Annually Charged Customers

I am a fan of TechSmith. We use their Camtasia software for some of our on-demand tutorials and I was impressed to discover their service team frequently monitors Twitter looking for customer questions and concerns to answer. But when I got an email receipt out of the blue from them this week, when as far as I'd known I hadn't bought anything in months, it was definitely a WTF?! moment. And it's one that I…

What Subscription, Membership & Continuity Merchants Need to Know About Recurring Billing Declines

A few of my notes from Insider's webinar featuring Paul Larsen (credit card processing guru for subscription site industry) yesterday: #1. More than half of US consumers do NOT use a "real" card when signing up for subscriptions or memberships online. 52% are using a debit card. 15% (and growing) are using prepaid cards.This means more than half of your accounts may hit limits and be harder to retain than you suspected... unless you know how…

Why Recording Webinars as Paid Content is a Bad Idea

I'm a stats monster. So, I watch usership/viewership on both our live webinars and the on-demand versions of the same. I've noticed some startling differences in viewership.Here's the thing -- it's the same audience demographic, the same content, and even the same size on the screen (our video streaming allows our videos to be blown up to full-screen by our members.) The only difference is a webinar is presented "live" and often includes a Q&A…

Do You Serve Your Readers … or Your Advertisers? The Glory of Paid Content Models

When you sell online ads directly to sponsors, increasingly these days they expect to control the editorial their ad appears next to. "My competitors won't be mentioned in any editorial on pages where my ad appears, will they?" is a question that honest-to-god I've heard several times this week alone.  It's gotten so bad that some PR people refuse to pitch stories or provide interview access unless you promise them the story won't be on a…

Christian Science Monitor’s Weekly Wins 60% More Paying Subscribers Than its Daily Newspaper Had

The stats behind this week's Case Study of Christian Science Monitor's turn-around are fascinating. So often in the online publishing industry we assume that higher frequency is better. We ramp up the content production volume, hoping that more and more pages, and continual changing homepage headlines are the way to go. But then I remember the time when my father, a reader with a busy life, pestered the circulation department of Wired Magazine, among others, with…

Acquire New Subscribers (or Members) for 60% Less With Referral Marketing

When Aimen Barma was VP Marketing for Audible, she discovered that referral marketing was the cheapest of all her new subscriber acquisition channels. Cheaper than PPC, co-registration, online ads, rented lists, affiliates ... in fact, her financial analysis showed referral acquisitions were 60% cheaper than any other paid media. This month I asked her to come present to our Subscription Site Insider Members all the details of what works in referral marketing. (An on-demand replay of…

Stats: Which Homepage Style Works Best for Membership Sites & Subscription Sites?

We're in the midst of designing a new homepage for Subscription Site Insider's main site and just like always, finalizing a wireframe is AGONIZING. I want to put everything plus the kitchen sink on there, and I want it all above the fold! Which is stupid because clutter confuses instead of converting, and the tiny type you'd need to shove more content in a small space is completely unreadable.How do other membership site and subscription…

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