Are you breathing life into your zombies?

By: Rob Corbidge, 12 March 2021

Many subscribers rarely login to sites they have paid for

Lockdown has played havoc with the regularity of gym attendances (that’s our excuse…), but being kept indoors cannot explain why online subscription usage can be equally flakey.

A study by Illinois’ Northwestern University’s Medill Spiegel Research Center showed that, across 45 markets, 49% of subscribers with both print and digital access do not visit the website of their paid-for titles even once a month.

The visit rate for digital-only subscribers is predictably much better – only 20% fail to visit monthly – but shows that those whose relationships with titles originate with the print product often still rely on "the paper" to get their sense of value. 

It’s worth noting because such low-traffic users, dubbed zombies, are more likely to lapse at subscription renewal time. 

So how can you tempt them back more often? Unit director Jonathon Copulsky said: “Old habits are hard to break and new habits are rarely formed by accident. Our analysis suggests that purposefully creating the habit of regularity among digital subscribers is the single most important factor for news organizations to focus on if they hope to grow digital revenues.”

Research boss Ed Malthouse added: “Newsletters are really important because if people aren’t coming to you, then maybe you should go to them. If you subscribe to these newsletters, you’re also less likely to churn. News organizations need to do a much better job of helping readers find the stories that they’re interested in. Most places cede this to Google.”

See the full report here at this link: https://localnewsinitiative.northwestern.edu/posts/2021/03/01/zombies/

About the Author

Rob Corbidge

Rob Corbidge is Head of Content Intelligence at Glide Publishing Platform, applying the latest knowledge about advances and ideas in the publishing industry to our own product and helping clients get the most from their content.