During a session called “Winners Shaping the Future,” Michael Golden, Vice Chairman of the NYT Company, describes these signs of success:
- Retention rates for print subscribers have improved.
- The New York Times Media Group has had revenue growth for 5 quarters since starting the digital subscription plan.
- It’s been a huge emotional lift for employees.
- Only modest reductions in unique visitors and pageviews for nytimes.com have emerged.
"It has been a huge success," said Golden. “This case is unique to The Times. However, there are lessons other media companies can derive from our experience.”
- Be clear with your goals. “Our goal was absolutely clear: to offer a meaningful digital subscription plan that allowed us the full benefit of tablets, smartphones and the web. Our content is worth it.”
- Align the whole organization behind the effort. “Such a plan touches every part of the organization, IT, finance, marketing, editorial, advertising, production. Your customers expect a wonderful experience and you have to unite to deliver it. The standard is set by Apple, Amazon, Google. We have to measure up.”
- Your readers know best. “Your customers will tell you what they want. Are you listening carefully?” The Times did extensive research on what readers wanted and expected. It also did extensive usability testing on features and screens, Golden said. Price testing and offer bundles were also heavily researched.
- Promote aggressively. “Act like an e-tailer.”
- Advertising still works. The Times had an increase in advertising the year it introduced the digital subscription plan. Careful analysis of the gateway and the ways around it like search and social media resulted in a modest loss of uniques and pageviews. “The lost advertising was largely at remant rates and paled in comparison to the subscription revenue,” Golden said.
Golden says the plan's success has allowed NYT to to move ahead aggressively, leveraging its direct relationship with readers.
You may download Mr Golden's presenation from slideshare.