Tips to Help Magazine Publishers Increase Subscriptions

Revenue - Tips for increasing subscriptions

Whether a magazine publisher has a distribution blend that is entirely subscriber-based, or is a mix of free-at-the-newsstand and subscriber, finding new ways to increase subscriptions is always a focus.

Knowing where to find new ideas that might work for your publication can be a challenge, so we’re sharing some of the tactics we’ve seen work.

Tap into current trends and events

When it comes to subject matter, does your magazine have a topic or area of interest that might be particularly captivating due to its current popularity?

For example, RV travel has been enjoying a spike in popularity in recent years with companies like Cruise America making motorhome travel accessible for those who can’t afford to own them. Similarly, outfitting vans to be adventure-mobiles capable of making camping dreams come has gained popularity, even becoming a lifestyle for some people.

Can your publication weave in articles about trends like these even if you aren’t a travel, outdoor or recreational vehicle-focused publication?

For instance, if your publication’s focus is interior design, could you talk about tips for small space living or life hacks for packing for an RV trip? And if you normally focus on cuisine, could you include articles on ways to shop and cook efficiently while traveling?

Working to stay aware of trends can be an endless source of new content ideas that align with your publication’s focus, your audience’s interests and where people are spending money.

Each of these things will help you broaden your audience and attract advertisers.

Listen to your audience

In addition to current events, take the pulse of what your audience wants. As discussed in our Knowing Your Target Audience article, you can learn a lot from engagement metrics.

Are particular authors, topics or articles getting a high number of responses from readers? Do readers seem really engaged on social media with one topic over another?

Take note, and allow your readers to help you identify the content topics that are piquing their interest. If you’re not currently getting a lot of feedback from your readers, consider informal polls that you can spotlight in your publication, post on your website, and promote on your social channels.

Website as a driver

We’ve written before about making your website as effective as possible.

Consider adding a pop-up to your site that makes subscribing easy. Or, if that isn’t a feature you want to add, consider adding a landing page dedicated to subscribing and then promoting with social media campaigns.

Some publishers use a free email newsletter as a stepping stone to gaining paid subscribers.

Utilize in-magazine tactics

Functioning similarly to pop-ups on a website, consider traditional tactics like blown-in Business Reply Card (BRC) — a low-cost tactic with a consistent track record of performance.

You could also consider full-page ads promoting your own publication and the benefits of subscribing. Consider offering special content to entice these subscribers. And make it easy for readers to access your special offers by providing easy-to-remember vanity URLs in your print ads.


It may seem counterintuitive to some regional magazine publishers, but libraries can be a great asset to increasing circulation because of their diverse and local audience. Consider donating a subscription to your local library or your regional library system. You will get the attention of a wide audience that loves to read but may not have had previous exposure to your publication. To sweeten the deal, you could even offer discounted subscription rates to library card holders.

Leverage your social network

Aside from utilizing your publication’s social channels, consider using your own social network. Participate in groups on third-party sites like LinkedIn or other professional sites that relate to regional publishers or your magazine’s area of focus. Social interaction with your audience is a great way to increase brand awareness and subscribers.

Make it easy

When it comes time to renew subscriptions, make it a non-decision for your current subscribers by offering automatic renewals. With a simple email notification to let readers know that their subscription is coming to an end, you can easily sell auto-renewal as a customer service benefit. They don’t have to do anything other than keep enjoying another year of your publication!

Cross promotions

What if you allowed some of your top-tier advertisers to give subscriptions away to a select number of clients or consumers? Your publication will gain access to new audiences, and advertisers will benefit from the increased exposure to their brand on your pages.

Give something away

If you don’t already offer incentives to grow your subscriber base, you could consider a few different options and decide which would work best for your publication.

  • Referrals: By repackaging your content into helpful guides, you can ask for an email in exchange for a free download from your website. This is something that you can also advertise in your printed pages to help get potential subscribers into your communication stream.
  • Subscriber promos: Your cover is your best real estate. What about an offer right on the front letting people know that there is something additional available for subscribers only. For example, you could offer special discount codes from advertisers.
  • Free first issue: Sometimes all it takes is for people to feel like they’re getting a little perk for their money. Offering a free first issue is an old tactic that works well to cement your relationship.

Because these tactics are low-cost and low-effort, it’s should be easy to several to see which tactics resonate best with your audience and increase your subscriber base.

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