You often don't see an automatic subscription renewal program promoted to subscribers as available "by popular demand." Sure, our direct mail library, the Who's Mailing What! Archive, contains many publishing solicitations that include automatic renewal programs as part of their offers. But these tend to be acquisition or renewal campaigns, not stand-alone efforts.
For Arizona Highways, a magazine published by the state's Department of Transportation bureau, this offer was important enough to warrant its own campaigna triple postcard (710ARIHIG0603B) that announces to readers: "Never Get Another Renewal Notice!"
According to Circulation Director Holly Carnahan, the magazine has a very involved readership. In fact, testimonials are the reason for the launch of the magazine's automatic renewal program. When one of the editors implored subscribers who planned to renew their subscription to respond when they got their first renewal effort (to save the expense and waste of having to mail further appeals), many subscribers came back with ideas for how to run the renewal program, Carnahan explains.
Two such testimonials are featured in this triple postcard mailing (shown here), and they share with the rest of the
subscriber base where Arizona Highways got the idea to develop its automatic renewal process, called the "Preferred Subscriber Program." Their inclusion in the mailing positions the program as a subscriber-generated idea, and not something the magazine's marketing department is
trying to push at customers for its own benefit.
A letter printed on two of the postcard's interior panels explains precisely what it means to be a Preferred Subscriber Program member, such as when to expect the annual invoice, how to renew and how to cancel; a toll-free phone number and local phone number are provided for those who want to cancel by phone or change their minds after signing up for automatic renewal. A perf-off BRC allows recipients to quickly respond.
Carnahan says the campaign is new, mailed out for the first time to subscribers this June. The magazine dropped 118,000 triple postcards and received about 27,000 back so fara 23-percent response rate, she states. At the moment, she is working on the invoice series for subscribers close to the end of their term who have signed up for the program.
While other magazines' automatic renewal solicitations ask for a credit card for payment, Arizona Highways does not. Instead, Carnahan is prepared to mail three invoicing efforts to those program members who don't respond to the first invoice. She's hoping these subscribers will pay the invoice on the first contact, since it will remind them of their participation in the program and reinforce the benefits of automatic renewal. Carnahan is aware that even good-intentioned subscribers can get busy, so she also plans to grace these customers with three issues after expiresomething the circulation department generally does not do.
None of the magazine's acquisition efforts are offering the Preferred Subscriber Program yet. Carnahan says she plans to offer the automatic renewal option to gift subscribers next (a substantial portion of the file), and has begun adding a mini-brochure about the program to the first and second invoicing efforts on all recent subscription orders.
Carnahan is bullish on the future of the Preferred Subscriber Program. Sister magazine Texas Highways also has been offering an automatic renewal program to its subscribers, but "response is substantially higher for Arizona Highways," Carnahan says.