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Subscriptions Strategy: Subscription site benchmark report

Subscription site benchmark report

Practical Research to Grow Subscription Site Profits

The first 100% research-based guide for subscription, membership and paid content sites.

Discover what social media and marketing tactics are working as you learn about online subscription trends, best practices, pricing models and conversion rates across all kinds of markets.

185-charts of real-life business data with 389 real-life site execs revealing their own numbers including:
• B2B, consumer publishing, dating, dieting, news, hobby, games, video, & financial sites
• Pricing trends, conversion rates, renewal stats
• What’s working in marketing (and what’s not)
• Hybrid model info, including ad sales
• Typical profits, time-to-profit, and how to lift profits

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Subscription & Membership Site Benchmark Report

Who Will Find This Report Very Useful:

* Subscription site publishers who want research-based advice on tactics to improve revenues this fiscal quarter. * Ad-based online publishers considering adding (or switching to) a subscription model to add to revenues. * eBook publishers considering transitioning to a subscription model to generate steadier, ongoing revenues from your subject matter expertise. * Membergate publishers who want to see how they stack up against their peers. * Traditional print media executives who want to get more aggressive in the online space – without taking unnecessary risks. * Private equity considering investments who want reality-based forecasting data.

How Our Exclusive, Practical Research Was Gathered:

389 real-life subscription site executives took extensive surveys for this Report (thank you!) and revealed everything from what’s working in marketing, how profitable their sites are, and their sales conversion rates. Respondents included 175 Membergate publishers and 87 SIPA members, as well as executives from many of the biggest subscription sites in the world.

Plus, SubscriptionSiteInsider.com’s research team conducted an observational study of 550 subscription sites — including B2B and consumer sites of all sizes — examining everything from their search marketing results to their site design, traffic, and pricing structures.

Lastly, more than 100 industry vendors, consultants, financiers, and third party researchers agreed to share their data — often exclusively — with us to help make this Benchmark Report the most comprehensive resource possible.

All in all, you’ll find 185 charts, tables and illustrations. (See below for a detailed Table of Contents!)

Table of Contents: 185 Charts, Tables & Illustrations on Subscription Sites

Based largely on three new SubscriptionSiteInsider.com studies, the Benchmark Report features more exclusive, NEW data on subscription sites than any other source on the planet. If the data’s not here, it probably doesn’t exist (yet.) Here’s what your copy includes:

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Subscription & Membership Site Benchmark Report

CHAPTER ONE: Subscription & Membership Site Industry — Profits & Challenges
Part I. Show Me the Money
-> Current Financial Data
TABLE 1.01: Subscription Revenues of Named Sites and Service Providers
TABLE 1.02: US Consumer Spending on Paid Internet Content: 2009 VSS Estimate
CHART 1.02: Typical Annual Profits Reported by Profitable Subscription Site Execs
CHART 1.03: Typical Annual Profits Reported by Profitable Subscription Site Execs: B2B vs B2C
CHART 1.04: Typical Annual Profits Reported by Profitable Membergate Sites
CHART 1.05: Launch-to-Profitability Timeframe for Profitable Subscription Sites
CHART 1.06: Launch-to-Profitability Timeframe: B2B vs B2C Profitable Subscription Sites
CHART 1.07: Non-Sub Site Publishers Estimate Sub Site Build Costs
CHART 1.08: Non-Sub Site Publishers Estimate New Sub Site Breakeven Timing
-> Historic Financial Data
CHART 1.09: US Consumer Spending on Online Content 2001-2005 By Quarter
CHART 1.10: US Online Content Spending by Category of Content, 2004-2005
CHART 1.11: US Ratio of Single Purchases to Subscription Sales by Content Category, 2005
CHART 1.12: US Paid Content Consumer Growth by Average Annual Spend, 2005
CHART 1.13: US Paid Content Consumer Growth by Market Penetration, 2005
TABLE 1.03: US Adults Online Content Purchasing Habits: September 2007
TABLE 1.04: Internet Publishing & Broadcasting —Estimated Revenue & Expenses 2004-2006
TABLE 1.05: US Electronic Shopping & Mail-Order Houses – Total & Ecommerce Sales by Merchandise: 2006-2007
Part II. Types of Sites & Content Offered
CHART 1.14: Internet Pureplay vs. Mixed Offline & Online Offerings
CHART 1.15: Content Features Offered on Typical Advisory/Guru/Coaching Subscription Sites
CHART 1.16: Content Features Offered on Typical Connecting People/Dating Subscription Sites
CHART 1.17: Content Features Offered on Typical Entertainment Subscription Sites
CHART 1.18: Content Features Offered on Typical Instructional/Training/Course Subscription Sites
CHART 1.19: Content Features Offered on Typical Directory/Database Subscription Sites
CHART 1.20: Content Features Offered on Typical News/Specialized Journalism Subscription Sites
CHART 1.21: Subscription Sites Offering Email and/or Mobile Editions
CHART 1.22: User-Generated Content on a Typical Advisory/Guru/Coaching Subscription Site
CHART 1.23: User-Generated Content on a Typical Dating/Networking Subscription Site
CHART 1.24: User-Generated Content on a Typical Entertainment Subscription Site
CHART 1.25: User-Generated Content on a Typical Instructional/Training Subscription Site
CHART 1.26: User-Generated Content on a Typical Directory/Database Subscription Site
CHART 1.27: User-Generated Content on a Typical News/Specialized Journalism Subscription Site
Part III. Biggest Challenges for Subscription Sites Currently
CHART 1.28: Subscription Executives Name Their Site’s Biggest Barriers to Success
CHART 1.29: Subscription Executives Name Their Site’s Biggest Barriers to Success: B2B vs. B2C
CHART 1.30: Weakness Most Subscription Sites Need To Fix: Vendors Speak Out
CHART 1.31: Top Business Challenges Reported by SIPA Members Publishing Subscription Sites

CHAPTER TWO: Subscription Site Audience & Traffic
-> Consumers and Online Content
CHART 2.01: If Facebook Charged $1.99 per Month, Would You Pay?
CHART 2.02: If Facebook Charged $4.99 per Month, Would You Pay?
CHART 2.03: Apple “i” Users Upgrade Pattern: Free Upgrade vs. $10 Upgrade
TABLE 2.01: US Content Subscription Adoption by Consumer Age Group, 2007
CHART 2.04: Is Online Content You Paid for Higher Quality Than Free Content?
Chart 2.05: Likeliness to Buy an Online Video Subscription: Business Professionals Ages 45-63
CHART 2.06: Subscription Services Business Professionals Ages 45-63 Are Most Likely To Cancel
CHART 2.07: US Consumers Time Spent With Online Content vs Other Online Activities, 2008-2009
CHART 2.08: US Consumer Page Views of Online Content vs Other Types of Sites, 2008-2009
CHART 2.09: Unique US Visitors Per Month to Content Sites vs Other Sites, 2008-2009
CHART 2.10: US Consumers’ Sources for Personal Financial Information
-> Consumers and the News Media
CHART 2.11: Time Spent Per Week Reading Internet Newspapers, 2007-2008
CHART 2.12: If Your Print Newspaper Went Online, Would You Visit More?
CHART 2.13: Loyalists as a % of Typical Newspaper Site Unique Visitors
CHART 2.14: Loyalists as a % of Typical Newspaper Site Page Views Per Month
TABLE 2.02: Favored Local News Sources by US Age-Group, 2009
CHART 2.15: Consumer Preferences, Offline vs Online Media: Fall 2009
CHART 2.16: Online News Consumption by Household Income, 2008
TABLE 2.03: Increasing Consumer Criticism of Press Accuracy
-> Real-life 2009 Subscription Site Traffic
CHART 2.17: Total Traffic of 550 Observed Subscription Sites, 2009
CHART 2.18: Unique Visitors of 550 Observed Subscription Sites: Percent B2B vs B2C
CHART 2.19: Golden Oldies: Traffic Stats of Classic Sub Sites Still Going Strong
CHART 2.20: Dating Sites Unique Monthly Traffic
CHART 2.21: Dieting Sites Unique Monthly Traffic
CHART 2.22: Subscription Sites Connecting Friends/Colleagues: Unique Monthly Traffic
CHART 2.23: Music Subscription Sites: Unique Monthly Traffic
CHART 2.24: Movie Subscription Sites: Unique Monthly Traffic
CHART 2.25: Top Online Game Subscriptions: Unique Monthly Traffic
CHART 2.26: Fantasy Sports Fan Subscription Offers : Unique Monthly Traffic
CHART 2.27: Greeting Card Sites: Unique Monthly Traffic
CHART 2.28: Real Estate Info Sites: Unique Monthly Traffic
CHART 2.29: Consumer Credit Rating Sites Unique Monthly Traffic
CHART 2.30: Reference Sites: Unique Monthly Traffic
CHART 2.31: General B2B Interest Sub Sites: Hoovers vs Payscale
CHART 2.32: Get Rich on the Internet Sites: Unique Monthly Traffic
TABLE 2.04: Traffic to a Typo (Rhapsody vs. Rhaposdy)

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Subscription & Membership Site Benchmark Report

CHAPTER THREE: Marketing Subscriptions
ILLUSTRATION 3.01: The Online Content Subscription Conversion Funnel
ILLUSTRATION 3.02: Subscription Brand Awareness Impact: The Ease of Conversion Ladder
TABLE 3.01: Example of Multiyear Profitability: 5 Years from Initial Campaign
CHART 3.01: Common Marketing Tactics Used by 550 Observed Subscription Sites
CHART 3.02: SIPA-Member Subscription Sites Rate Marketing Tactics by Results
TABLE 3.02: Upcoming Marketing Budget Changes Projected by SIPA-Member Subscription Sites
CHART: 3.04 How Membergate Site Publishers Differ From Other Publishers: Marketing Tactics
-> Online Tactics to Market Online Subscriptions
CHART 3.05: Subscription Site Execs Rate Effectiveness of Online Marketing Tactics
CHART 3.06: Percent of Subscription Sites Using Common Online Marketing Tactics
CHART 3.07: Online Marketing Tactics Used by Dating Subscription Sites
CHART 3.08: Online Marketing Tactics Used by Personal Investment Subscription Sites
CHART 3.09: Online Marketing Tactics Used by Personal Investment Subscription Sites
CHART 3.10: Online Marketing Tactics Used by Personal-Business Subscription Sites
CHART 3.11: Online Marketing Tactics Used by Dieting Subscription Sites
CHART 3.12: Online Marketing Tactics Used by Fan Club Subscription Sites
CHART 3.13: Online Marketing Tactics Used by Entertainment Subscription Sites
CHART 3.14: Online Marketing Tactics Used by Hobby-Topic Subscription Sites
CHART 3.15: Online Marketing Tactics Used by Get Rich Online Subscription Sites
CHART 3.16: Online Marketing Tactics Used by Health-related Subscription Sites
CHART 3.17: Online Marketing Tactics Used by B2B Trade Subscription Sites
CHART 3.18: Percent of Subscription Sites with Aggressive Search Marketing
CHART 3.19: High SEO Sites Offering Free Content without Registration
CHART 3.20: Percent of Observed Subscription Sites With High SEO Rankings
CHART 3.21: Subscription Sites With SEO Success — by Topic
CHART 3.22: Subscription Sites Actively Using Google AdWords— by Content Topic
CHART 3.23: Surveyed SIPA Subscription Site Execs ‘Unsure’ of SEM-Driven Revenues
TABLE 3.03: Top Referring Sites & Unique Traffic for High-profile Subscription Sites, Sept 2009
CHART 3.24: Sub Site Execs Rate Social Media Marketing Effectiveness
CHART 3.25: Percent of Sub Sites Using Common Social Media Marketing Tactics
CHART 3.26: Social Media Marketing Tactics Used: B2B vs. Consumer Sub Sites
CHART 3.27: Sub Site Execs rate Effectiveness of Email Rentals & Co-Reg
CHART 3.28: Percent of Sub Sites Using Email List Rentals & Co-Reg
CHART 3.29: Email List/Co-Reg Outreach Used: B2B vs. Consumer Sub Sites
-> Offline Tactics to Market Online Subscriptions
CHART 3.30: Sub Site Execs Rate Effectiveness of Offline Marketing Tactics
CHART 3.31: Percent of Sub Sites Using Offline Marketing
CHART 3.32: Offline Marketing Tactics Used: B2B vs. Consumer Sub Sites
CHART 3.33: Broadcast TV & Cable Advertising Expenditures: US Dating Sites Jan-Sept. 2008
CHART 3.34: Upcoming Offline Tests Planned By SIPA-Member Subscription Sites
-> Site Design & Marketing
ILLUSTRATION 3.03: Content-Focused “Editorial” Subscription Site Homepage Style
ILLUSTRATION 3.04: Longform Letter-style Subscription Site Homepage Style (left)
ILLUSTRATION 3.05: Promotional Conversion-Focused Subscription Site Homepage Style
CHART 3.35: Homepage Style By Site Topic: Consumer Sites
CHART 3.36: Homepage Style By Site Topic: Business Sites
CHART 3.37: Homepage Style for Subscription Sites with Very Low Traffic
CHART 3.38: Homepage Style for Subscription Sites with Very High Traffic
CHART 3.39: Homepage Style by High vs. Low Inbound Links
TABLE 3.04: Percent of Total Site Traffic to Subscription Info: Forbes, Fool, Yahoo
ILLUSTRATION 3.06: Fool.com Homepage With Subscription-Driving Tab
CHART 3.40: Impact of Landing Page Tests on Conversion Rates: General Web Marketers
CHART 3.41: Online Test Effectiveness Rated by SIPA-Member Subscription Sites
CHART 3.42: Online Tests Used by SIPA-Member Subscription Sites
CHART 3.43: Tests Used by Subscription Sites to Maximize Profits
CHART 3.44: Tests Used by Membergate Subscription Site Publishers vs Others

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Subscription & Membership Site Benchmark Report

CHAPTER FOUR: Offers, Pricing, Terms & Conversions
-> Conversions
CHART 4.01: Reported Subscription Site Conversion Rates: As a Percent of Monthly Unique Traffic
CHART 4.02: Subscription Site Conversion Rates as a Percent of Unique Traffic: Membergate Publishers vs Others
CHART 4.03: Conversion Trends Reported by SIPA-Member Sites 2008-09
TABLE 4.01: Named-Subscription Site Conversion Metrics as Reported in the Media
-> Lead Generation Marketing & Trials
CHART 4.04: Registration Required for Free Content Access by Site Topic
ILLUSTRATION 4.01: Suggested Method of Getting Email Opt-ins With Fewer Errors
CHART 4.05: Percent of Observed Subscription Sites Offering Online Trials
CHART 4.06: Types of Trials Offered Online by Observed Subscription Sites
CHART 4.07: Most Popular Copywriting for Various Trial Lengths (3 charts)
TABLE 4.02: Most Popular Trial Term Lengths
ILLUSTRATION 4.02: Price Increases & Demand Fall-Off: The Humps of Reality
TABLE 4.03: US Subscription Site Pricing By Topic & Subscription Term
TABLE 4.04: US Subscription Site Pricing By Service Type & Subscription Term
CHART 4.08: Price Testing Tactics Used (Or Not) by Subscription Sites
CHART 4.09: Price Tests Used by Subscription Sites: B2B vs B2C
CHART 4.10: Price Testing: Membergate Subscription Publishers vs Others
-> Subscription Terms & Renewals
CHART 4.11: Most Frequently Offered Online Subscription Terms
CHART 4.12: Percent of Sites Offering More Than One Term Length-Option, B2B v. B2C
CHART 4.13: If Monthly vs. Annual Terms Are Offered: What Percent of Subscribers Choose Each?
CHART 4.14: Monthly Online Subscription Account Average Lifetime
ILLUSTRATION 4.03: Monthly Subscription Account Lifetime as “Leaky Buckets”
CHART 4.15: Annual Online Subscription Account Average Renewal Rate
CHART 4.16: Renewal Rate Trends Reported by SIPA-Member Sites 2008-09
CHART 4.17: Typical Subscription Billing Credit Card Declines in 2009: Monthly vs Annual
CHART 4.18 B2B Sites Offering Groups/Site Licenses
CHART 4.19: Group Online Subscription Average Renewal Rate
ILLUSTRATION 4.04: How Renewal Rates May Rise Over Account Lifetime

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Subscription & Membership Site Benchmark Report

CHAPTER FIVE: Hybrid Models & Ancillary Sales
CHART 5.01: Non-Subscription Revenues of Hybrid Sites: Typical Percent of Total Sales
CHART 5.02: Types of Non-Subscription Revenue Sources for Hybrid Model Sites
CHART 5.03: Hybrid Model Sites Observed: Visible Ancillary Offerings by Site Topic
CHART 5.04: Hybrid Publishers Rate Revenues From Specific Non-Subscription Sources
ILLUSTRATION 5.01: Example AdSense-Supported Niche Topic Site: MyFederalRetirement.com
CHART 5.05: Additional Revenue Sources Reported by SIPA-Member Subscription Sites
TABLE 5.01: Sales Changes for SIPA-Member Subscription Site Publishers’ Revenue Streams 2008-9
TABLE 5.02: A Sampling of Subscription Email Newsletter Lists Currently on the Rental Market
ILLUSTRATION 5.02: Co-Registration Offers Appearing During Registration Process: Away.com
CHART 5.06: B2B Trade Subscription Sites Selling Event Tickets: Real-World vs. Virtual
ILLUSTRATION 5.03: Webinar Sponsorship Media Kit Sample
ILLUSTRATION 5.04: Example Virtual Trade Show Homepage — Forbes iConferences
CHART 5.07: Non-Sub Site Publishers’ Attitudes Toward Selling Ads on Paid Sub Sites
ILLUSTRATION 5.05: Advertising Media Kit for a Subscription Site – Ancestry
ILLUSTRATION 5.06: US Advertising vs Marketing Spending: 2006-2009

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Subscription & Membership Site Benchmark Report

CHAPTER SIX: M&As, Launches & Other Investments
TABLE 6.01: Selected Past M&As of Note
CHART 6.01: M&A and Expansion Investments Under Consideration by Subscription Sites
CHART 6.02: M&A and Expansion Investments Under Consideration by Subscription Sites: B2B vs. B2C
CHART 6.03: M&A and Expansion Investments Under Consideration by Membergate Sites
CHART 6.04: Non-Sub Site Media Executives Considering M&As/Investing in Sub Sites
CHART 6.05: Launches Per Year: Observed Subscription Sites 1990 Through Mid-2009
CHART 6.06: Non-Sub Site Publishers’ Interest in Launching a Paid Subscription Site
CHART 6.07: Minimum Profits Non-Sub Site Publishers Require to Consider Launching One
CHART 6.08: Publishers’ Reasons for Not Launching a Subscription Site
CHART 6.09: Non-Sub Site Executives’ View of Potential Sub Site Exit Strategies
CHART 6.10: Subscription Sites Considering Going on the Block
CHART 6.11: Subscription Sites Considering Going on the Block: B2B vs. B2C
CHART 6.12: Membergate Sites Considering Selling Out
CHART 6.13: Truth Beyond 2009’s Hype on Subscription Sites: Vendors Speak Out

OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH DETAILS
LIST 7.01 Brand Names of 550 Subscription Sites Examined by SubscriptionSiteInsider.com
TABLE 7.01 Topics of 550 Subscription Services Examined by SubscriptionSiteInsider.com
TABLE 7.02 Types of 550 Subscription Services Examined by SubscriptionSiteInsider.com

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Subscription & Membership Site Benchmark Report