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5 Factors Affecting Your Renewal Rates

September 17th, 2009 by Bob Bly

?Renewal rates are a function of the quality of the editorial? is common advice among specialized information publishers.

It?s the truth. But it?s not the whole truth. There are 5 factors affecting your renewal rates, and the quality of the publication is only one of them ? albeit the most important one.

The 5 factors are, in order of importance (though I admit the priority is debatable):

1?Editorial ? If subscribers enjoy the newsletter and find it valuable, they will renew. If they don?t, they won?t.

And by ?valuable,? we don?t mean just good writing and good content. We mean actionable news, advice, or ideas that generate an ROI equal to many multiples of the subscription price.

2?Price ? Your subscribers want to feel they are getting a substantial discount on their renewal, preferably your lowest available rate.

You can often move some subscribers to renew now instead of later by dropping hints that the low renewal rate is a special one-time offer that may soon expire.

3?Market ? The conditions in your market can have a drastic impact on renewal rates.

Example: b-to-b newsletters earning substantial revenues from corporate site sales suffer when a recession or industry downturn causes major subscriber companies in their market to cancel subscriptions, either from cost-cutting measures or bankruptcy.

4?Acquisition promotion ? Am I saying the acquisition promotion can have a greater effect on renewal rates than the renewal promotions?

Yes. Reason: the acquisition promotion sets up certain expectations in the subscribers.

An acquisition that boosts front-end response through exaggeration or misrepresentation of what the publication actually delivers runs the risk of lowering renewal rates on the back end.

5?Renewal promotion ? Some marketers believe renewal copy makes little or no difference in renewal rates, and for them, it may.

But many other marketers get significant lifts in renewal rates by creating and mailing strong renewal efforts.


This entry was posted on Thursday, September 17th, 2009 at 7:37 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

27 responses about “5 Factors Affecting Your Renewal Rates”

  1. Natalie said:


    This is great. Thanks! But can you explain point 4? It’s not going into my brain for some reason!


  2. Bob Bly said:

    Natalie: if the publication fulfills the promises made in the direct mail package that generated the subscription, renewals will be higher. If the DM package was deceptive and made promises that the magazine does not deliver, renewals will be weak.

  3. Natalie said:

    Thanks Bob, much clearer! And so obvious now I understand!


    P.S, Half way through copywriters handbook…and learning loads!

  4. Buy Contact Lenses said:

    Does the same hold true for a web marketing campaign, say for trying to keep existing customers coming back (human renewal rate). IN our business, selling contact lenses online – if we can get a customer and keep them happy, they keep renewing their prescription and coming back to buy more.

  5. Dean at Pro Copy Tips said:

    Editorial can affect acquisition too if you’re sending out samples as part of a promotion. Some publications have okay content, but it’s not strong enough to persuade people to subscribe. I’ve seen direct mail results fall when a sample is enclosed and rise when removed. You can overcome this by creating a special sample with only the best content from a year or two of issues. But my rule for samples is, when in doubt, leave it out.

  6. Robert Lerose said:


    As a specialist in writing renewal series, I agree with your five success factors. I would also add that marketers and circulation pros should make their strongest, best offer in the first effort–and emphasize to the subscriber that it won’t get any better than this down the road. It’s a strategic and costly mistake to reward procrastinators. Jim Bell and I will be doing a presentation on renewals at the SIPA conference in Miami Beach in November or you can visit for more ideas.

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  10. Brenda said:

    I am sure that most people won’t be having any clue regarding these 5 points that are discussed here. Most people think that clothing manufacturers in california it is the quality that is taken into consideration when you give for renewals.

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    This is fantastic. Thanks! But, could you elaborate on point 4? For some reason, it’s not getting into my head!

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