illustration of the number five, representing the five subscription business topics for this column, Five-on-Friday

Five on Friday: Events, Watches and Craft Subscriptions

Featuring The New Yorker Live, Cricut, HBO Max and Breitling

In this week’s Five on Friday, The New Yorker adds live events, but only for subscribers, and Cricut will soon limit craft uploads without a subscription. Also, HBO Max plans to launch its ad-supported tier in June and it has already made $80 million in upfront subscription fees, Breitling launches a new watch subscription that lets subscribers try three watches a year, and we share five tips for email marketing success.

The New Yorker Launches Monthly Event Series for Subscribers

The New Yorker is launching a new monthly event series featuring influential speakers in the arts, culture and politics. Available only to subscribers of The New Yorker, the series premiere consists of two events. The first will be March 29, at 6 p.m. Eastern. Poet, activist and author Amanda Gorman and playwright and producer Jeremy O. Harris will speak with contributing writer Lauren Michele Jackson about art, race and expression.

The second event will be March 31 at 6 p.m. Eastern, featuring Representative Joaquin Castro and author Karla Cornejo Villavicencio who will talk about immigration and the political implications of the Mexican border. They will be hosted by David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker and Sarah Stillman, a staff writer and the director of the Global Migration Project.

Later events will be announced each month and can only be accessed by the magazine’s subscribers. No reservations or registration will be required because the events are virtual, for now. The events will also be accessible to subscribers to watch on-demand afterward.

The series was inspired by The New Yorker Festival which was held virtually last October.

“Taking The New Yorker Festival virtual last year made clear that there’s a desire among our readers around the globe for deeply engaging conversations,” said Remnick. “With the launch of this new series, I’m so pleased that we’ll be bringing this community, built around subscribers, together on a regular basis.”

First published in 1925, The New Yorker has been an iconic magazine for nearly 100 years. Visit The New Yorker online for current subscription rates and promotions.

Events have become a part of the revenue mix for many newspapers and magazines, who are trying to diversify revenue streams, so they aren’t solely reliant on advertising or subscription revenue. During the pandemic, many subscription companies experimented with virtual events and saw success, as this new event series illustrates.

The New Yorker launches monthly event series for subscribers.

Cricut Backtracks Plans to Require a Subscription for Uploads

Late last week, Cricut posted new features and changes to its blog. Among those changes was a new requirement that users who uploaded more than 20 personal images and/or patterns per month would be required to have a paid plan. According to The Verge, to upload more than 20 images or patterns, Cricut owners would have to subscribe to Cricut’s Access Standard plan at $9.99 per month, or $95.88 per year, or the Access Premium plan for $118.88 per year. This is on top of the cost of the machine itself.

Apparently, Cricut users found this change unacceptable, and they took to social media to indicate their displeasure. Many of the comments were too profane to share here, but Cricut got the message loud and clear that users felt they were getting a raw deal. Within days, Cricut backtracked their decision. In a letter to customers dated yesterday, CEO Ashish Arora apologized.

“One of our core values is community – we’re listening, and we took your feedback to heart. The foundation of our Cricut community is one of integrity, respect and trust. It is clear that, in this instance, we did not understand the full impact of our recent decision on our current members and their machines. We apologize,” wrote Arora.

Cricut is not the only company who has made an ill-advised change like this without testing the market. In January, for example, Microsoft promptly reversed a controversial subscription price hike for Xbox Live Gold when they received backlash from subscribers. In both cases, the companies acted swiftly to try to right the wrong. Cricut is likely to lose some customers over this misstep. It serves as a cautionary tale that you must know your customer, and you must hold true to your value proposition.

HBO Max Makes $80 Million in Ad Revenue Prior to June Launch

Similar to Hulu and Peacock, HBO Max plans to offer an ad-supported tier to supplement its subscription offerings. Though the ad-supported tier isn’t set to launch until June, the AT&T-owned HBO Max has already received $80 million in advertising commitments for the streaming service, reports Media Post.

“We believe we are already the No. 1 revenue-generating stand-alone subscription video on demand service in the U.S.,” said WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar on AT&T Investor Day. “We earn 90% in margin from each retail subscriber that we add.”

HBO Max launched on March 27, 2020. The streaming service saw such great success that it discontinued free trials in December. At the same time, the company announced that its feature films would premiere in theatres and on the streaming platform on the same day, so consumers could choose how and where to watch the latest movies.

AT&T provided additional highlights and goals for HBO Max and HBO:

  • Goal: 67 to 70 million subscribers to HBO Max and HBO by the end of 2021, an increase over 61 million at the end of 2020
  • Goal: 120 to 150 million HBO Max and HBO subscribers by 2025, an increase over the 75 to 90 million subscribers projected in October 2019.
  • In 2021, AT&T will launch HBO Max in 60 markets outside the U.S., which will drive subscriber and revenue growth.
  • AT&T expects HBO revenue to more than double in the next five years.

“We’re being deliberate and strategic with how we allocate capital to invest in our market focus areas of 5G, fiber and HBO Max, while being committed to sustaining the dividend at current levels and utilizing cash after dividends to reduce debt,” said John Stankey, AT&T CEO, during Investor Day.

HBO and HBO Max STAT PACK March 2021

#BreitlingSelect Launches Watch Subscription Service

There is nothing quite like a Breitling watch, except for maybe the new #BreitlingSelect watch subscription. Through #BreitlingSelect, prospective buyers have the opportunity to try out watches before deciding to buy. After registering and signing a 12-month contract, subscribers can try up to three different watches over the course of a year with more than 60 to choose from. As the program grows and Breitling learns customer preferences, they’ll expand the collection. Subscribers are limited to two years in the #BreitlingSelect subscription program.

Subscribers can only have one watch in their possession at a time, and they can keep watches for no more than six months. If a subscriber chooses to buy a watch, they’ll receive a discount. They can also accumulate loyalty points that can be used as credits toward future purchases.

The question is “how much does it cost”? According to the Robb Report, there is a one-time sign-up fee of $450 and monthly payments of $129. Purchase price of the watches ranges between $3,500 to $6,500, so the subscription is a steal for those who want a Breitling, but are window shopping for the right one.

Breitling is not the first company to offer a watch subscription, nor will it be the last, but it has an interesting approach. The subscription model allows a buyer to try out a watch for an extended period of time to find the right fit, but it isn’t intended to last forever. The goal is ultimately to help a watch buyer find a piece he or she truly wants to purchase. It is an interesting model. We’re curious to see if it works.

#BreitlingSelect allows prospective watch buyers to try up to three Breitlings a year.
#BreitlingSelect allows prospective watch buyers to try up to three Breitlings a year. Image courtesy of Breitling.

5 Tips for Email Marketing Success

Whether you are writing a one-topic email or an email newsletter, you want subscribers to open it, read it, share it and to strengthen your relationship with prospective and existing customers. To do so, you need tried and true tips and tricks to get your emails noticed. Here are five of our favorite tips from several email experts.

  1. Try the Double Opens strategy. Search Engine Journal said you can often double your open rate by resending your email to recipients who didn’t open the first time. A few tips to ensure success: use a different subject line, choose a different send time, and wait 3 to 5 days before resending it.
  2. Optimize your preheader text. When people skim their inboxes, they are looking for interesting subject lines and intriguing preheader text. You need to pay equal attention to both, says Search Engine Journal.
  3. Test, test, test. We are big believers in testing your content to see what works and what doesn’t. There are other things you can test too – subject lines, from names, send times, etc. Mailchimp recommends that you choose the factor that means success for your subscription business. For example, if open rate is the most important to you, you’ll want to test factors that impact your open rate. Subject line will be a big factor here. With A/B testing, you can try different variations to see what works and apply what you’ve learned to your next campaign.
  4. Send a welcome message. According to Get Response, the welcome email is the most important message you can send. It helps you connect with new subscribers and weed out those that subscribed by mistake or changed their minds.
  5. Choose the right email frequency. Have you ever signed up for an email list and gotten so many emails from a company that you unsubscribed AND you vowed never to do business with them because they are so annoying? That’s the danger of abusing the privilege of being able to communicate with a prospect or customer via email. Respect their time. Don’t email too often or too infrequently. Get response reports that the 49% of all accounts they analyze email about once a week, 19.5% sent out two newsletters a week, 9.32% sent out 3, 5.5% sent four and 3.93% sent five.

Email marketing is as individual as your subscription company. The most important thing is to tailor your email strategy to your customers’ and prospects’ needs. And always follow the data. If you want to know what works, look at your analytics after each campaign. What trends can you identify? What is the data telling you? For example, maybe the data will show that email campaigns that go out at the end of the day on Friday are the least read, while those sent out at noon on Wednesday are the most read. Have a tip you’d like to share? Email us at [email protected] for us to consider for a future article on email success secrets.

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