Customer acquisition directly contributes to your bottom line. Use the following five strategies to help you improve subscriptions to your content—print or online.

Strategy #1: Start with a good list that you are comfortable with, then expand it

Amidst all the worries on complying with CAN-SPAM regulations, you should start with a good list you are comfortable with. Do you have a list of subscribers who subscribe to your other magazines? For subscribers whose email addresses you do not have, try using email append services to enhance your email list, as well as comprehensive data append services to expand on the demographic and geographic subscriber profile data. This is important underlying information that is essential to intelligently personalize your message.

Conduct an email campaign to verify the email address, as well as request permission for future email communication. This is the first step toward communicating with your customers online for enhancing ongoing brand awareness and increasing future renewals.

Use sweepstakes and refer-a-friend offerings to further build up a good quality list.

Strategy #2: Do your homework

Do you know what your existing subscribers like about a magazine or newsletter they currently receive? Does it make their lives easier? Does it give them hints and tips on projects that they wouldn't find in another, similar magazine?

Find out what appeals to your subscribers. Use surveys and polls to learn the psychology of your existing subscribers and apply the same to your prospective subscribers.

Strategy #3: Deliver interesting and relevant content

Great creative and superb editorial work together to create phenomenal content that speak to individual subscribers and benefit them.

Use as much of the profile information as possible to help you intelligently personalize the message and make the content more relevant. Instead of applying rudimentary personalization such as adding a greeting in front of a subscriber's name, take a giant leap and integrate the creative and content with what you know about this subscriber.

For a sports magazine, for example, if the subscriber is male, you may want to show the creative with a football player kicking a field goal. If the subscriber is female, you may want to show a female tennis player getting ready to serve her ace. If a prospective subscriber is able to connect with the message, the likelihood that he will subscribe is greater.

You've generated the creative and editorial content you believe will spark the most interest. Now what?

Take the time to verify the research information you collected by testing with a smaller group first. Review the results and make any necessary adjustments to ensure that you really do have the most relevant and interesting message that will generate the greatest response. Then, set up and conduct the full-scale email campaign.

Strategy #4: Think outside the box on how you want to promote to a new subscriber

Be different. Put your thinking cap on and devise new ways you can promote your content to a new subscriber—by email, by contest on a Web site, by direct mail or other media.

Maybe a series of hints imbedded in a sequential email campaign to find a castle, and if the prospect can locate the castle he receives a 10% discount on his new subscription to a magazine introducing vacation spots.

Maybe, in addition to the subscription button on your site, a "pay-back contest" where you pay back the year's subscription fee to the winning subscriber from the contest.

Maybe an ad in a national newspaper. You don't usually see a magazine subscription ad in a newspaper. However, research shows that when information is shown out of context, it actually generates greater response because the unique information stands out in a sea of similar information.

Maybe partnering with other firms to help promote your content. If you offer a fine woodworking magazine, partner with Home Depot to attract customers who have bought wood, and most likely have interests in working with wood.

Maybe a referral campaign that provides a clear value proposition for the member who initiated the referral, such as a one-year renewal free when he gives a subscription gift to a friend or relative.

Strategy #5: Extend the customer appreciation experience

Send a triggered thank-you email message to your subscriber once he has subscribed to your content. This lets him know you appreciate his business and provides a favorable impression of your brand. Build on the customer appreciation experience with the offer of free electronic newsletters with relevant information that he can really use while he waits for the next issue of print magazine to arrive.

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Helen Ching is the VP of marketing at Digital Connexxions Corp. She can be reached at