MCMA Educational Session Recap
Traditional Sources for Subscription Marketing
April 17, 2019


Emilie Harkin - The Atlantic
Charlie Mast - Mast Circulation Group
Dean Muscio - Moose Direct Marketing
Ed Muscio - Moose Direct Marketing
Walter Rosenthal - PubWorX


Joe Furgiuele (MCMA Past President)

Subscription marketing continues to be a major part of campaigns. But what do you need to know about making the most of this type of marketing? Direct mail and email marketing are still very vibrant parts of putting together a good campaign — and can help you reach your audience.

The April educational panel focused on how to use traditional sources for subscription marketing. The panelists all talked about the importance of tweaking traditional strategies and the importance of personalization in digital communications.

Direct Mail Works

Even though direct mail is considered an old model, the reality is that it’s still relevant. Some things to consider:

  • Direct mail dropped for a while, but it’s come back
  • Direct mail has transformed to integrate with online efforts
  • It’s a system and connection, collaboration between email and direct mail
  • Using direct mail as part of your strategy can increase the quality of leads and lead to conversions
  • Clients coming into direct mail for the first time are seeing good results
  • Younger audiences aren’t as interested in online-only experiences
  • Adding a promo code to a postcard can be more personal
  • In an overwhelmingly digital world, actual mail feels like you’ve made a true effort

“Think about mail as a high-touch, high-value experience. It should feel more exceptional. ... It has a more luxury feel that resonates with people. ” — Emilie Harkin (The Atlantic)

Email is Vital to the Mix

We need to keep email in the mix. Email builds the infrastructure for the next 12 to 24 months. It’s important to build an internal marketing database that can be used for the future. Email marketing and segmentation can provide you the ability to make better decisions.

Email allows you to answer questions about users:

  • Who read the whole email?
  • How far down did they get?
  • Who clicked on a call to action?
  • How many people even opened the email?
  • What are more effective subject lines?
  • Who follows through a call to action?

Even though direct mail can be part of the situation, an email list provides a lot of information that allows you to personalize efforts to consumers.

“SEM is like throwing a dart at the board. … Hyper-targeted audience extension and retargeting are just as hyper-focused as mail. That’s the future.”— Ed Muscio (Moose DM)

Email is still vital because acquiring high-quality leads off search engine marketing can be difficult. It’s still a work in progress, where email provides a lot of solid data about a customer base and a target audience.

Tools for Maintaining Subscriptions

Subscription marketing allows you to target specific populations and provide your advertisers with an audience.

Being able to maintain subscriptions easily is important. This includes email renewals and the ability to pay online and make it simple to renew.

Auto-renewal is also important tool, allowing them to renew automatically without taking an extra step to continue the subscription when the first email goes through. Additionally, consider expanding into alternate payment options, like Apple Pay.

It’s also important to provide a personalized experience. You can actually personalize the experience to allow them to feel special. Segmenting emails allows you to target specific members of your audience with different messages and even images and logos.

Retention costs less than acquisition, so keeping them on board is important. Every dollar spent on making that experience special is one that has a higher return on investment.

“Once you’ve acquired somebody, you should be investing in that relationship...
It’s important for them to love the brand.” — Emilie Harkin

In the end, building relationships can help you use subscription marketing to better effect. A combination of email and direct mail marketing can help you provide that experience as well as help the audience feel like they’re part of the brand.