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Tweaking your post-expire renewal efforts. (DM Notebook).

Glen King Parker, publisher of Market Logic, liked to say that he had never seen a renewal series "that couldn't last longer and contain at least one more piece."

What are the options for the post-expire renewal efforts? They can be divided into pieces mailed with the newsletter and standalone efforts.

Grace issues

Surveys have shown that while "experts" decry the practice, most newsletters seem to include one or two "grace issues" mailed after the official end of the subscription term.

Sending the post-expire issues maintains the subscriber's sense of being aboard, but you as marketer want to inspire action.

You can rubber stamp YOUR FINAL ISSUE ENCLOSED on the envelope Be sure that those laggards who don't "get around to it" know "that point" has been reached.

You can then nest a renewal notice with the newsletter--with the hope that the notice comes directly to the attention of the subscriber rather than being shunted to accounts payable.

Another approach is a "Letter from the Editor" nested with the issue. "I convinced the publisher to extend your subscription for this final issue because I didn't want you to miss the vitally important coverage about. ..."

For "This is your final issue" copy, it would be hard to beat this one from Financial Planning: "This is absolutely and without question your last chance to renew your subscription before we must delete you from our subscriber file."

(In that case, however, the series did contain another notice later.)

Speaking of "delete you from our subscriber file," for the first couple of months post-expire I tend to avoid the word expire and recommend techniques such as "extend your subscription so you don't miss..." and euphemisms like "lapse" or "about to lapse" (when it actually has).

The use of the word expire might serve to reinforce in the subscriber's mind a decision that she had only tentatively made. Instead, allow her to think the "decision" is still "under consideration" rather than present a fait accompli by using the word expire.


Although, as the aphorism has it, "a renewal is not a renewal until you get payment," you could test accepting post-expire bill-me orders. That permits the opportunity for some warm, fuzzy "you're re part of the family" copy.

"We Miss You Already" takes the personal me-to-you approach that characterizes many newsletters. A personalized letter explaining that while the newsletter is better than ever, morale is shot at the office because "you" aren't part of the team any longer.

This probably works best on "personal vehicle" newsletters where the subscriber may feel a connection to the editor.

Bob Spidell at Spidell's California Tax Letter did some A/B testing and learned that a full-blown, four-page sales letter did better with expires than sending a current issue with a one-page letter along the lines of "Don't you miss us? Aren't we better than ever?"

Spidell also used a letter to his market of accounting firms with the copy platform, "How do you feel when you lose a valued client?"

At the Cabot Market Letter, Carlton Lutts mailed a double postcard, from the marketing director, with this copy: "If you haven't renewed by now, my boss says I must be doing something wrong. Could you please use the space on the return card to indicate problems you may have had with the newsletter?"

Of course, there is also space to enter a renewal. "I can see some readers smiling," Lutts said, "and saying, 'If the poor schlemiel is this desperate. ...' but I do get orders."

The final question

Is it ever appropriate to reduce the price? A chorus of experts says, "NO, NO, NO," based on the conviction that you shouldn't ever improve the offer as the series goes along.

At one time, however, Bill Haight at Magna Publishing sent a double postcard with a half-price offer as a final effort. "If it's the only way I can get them back, I'll take it."

One consultant suggested offering a two-year deal for the one-year price at this point. "That's long enough to fully establish the reading habit and it maintains the integrity of your regular subscription price."
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Author:Goss, Fred
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Apr 15, 2003
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