The average promotional price for major publishers’ subscription products dipped for the second month in a row in August, research by Toolkits found.
Toolkits reviewed the 100 most popular subscription sites among US audiences and observed that the average subscription price available to new subscribers was $0.062 per day in August, down 3.1% from an average of $0.064 per day in July and 18.4% from an average of $0.076 in June.
The number of publishers offering discounted trials and promotions is creeping up, too. 76 of the 100 subscription publishers in our sample offered either discounted or free trials to new subscribers in August, up from 75 in June.
2022 has seen a clear trend toward publishers offering longer and cheaper introductory rates to new subscribers, and that trend continued throughout the summer. We’ll be tracking prices closely through the end of the year to see if they begin to climb after the expiration of “limited time” summer sales and other aggressive promotional activity designed to help offset a seasonal slowdown in conversions during the summer months.
Typically, we expect to see promotional pricing increase in September and October compared with summer, but as audiences become increasingly trained to expect heavily discounted trials and promotional subscription offers it’s possible that promotional rates could continue to decline through the end of the year.
Publishers that opt not to offer introductory discounts may find their ability to convert news subscribers is diminished as a result. One Toolkits reader recently described this subscription challenge as “offer mania” and expressed a desire to get off the promotional “hamster wheel” that some publishers feel has been thrust upon them by the broader market.
For those publishers offering the most aggressive promotional rates and offers, the hard work of “selling” a subscription now begins after a conversion takes place. Robust subscriber onboarding experiences are an increasingly vital part of any subscription business, and publishers that fail to deliver and clearly demonstrate ongoing value in the days and months following conversions will struggle to graduate trialists into genuine subscriber relationships.