Today's IAR news article on the whole Salon/Mercedes deal (which this Blog scooped them on three days ago, nyah nyah) reminded me of one thing I didn't mention: The free day of Premium Salon that Mercedes offers folks in exchange for sitting through a four-screen ad, is valued at about a nickel, if you do the math from their annual subscription fee.
I strongly suspect that's not the way consumers view it. They view it as worth much more than that because, unlike a free copy of a print publication, they are not *just* getting one issue. They are getting to see a whole world of enticing content heretofore behind the subscription wall. They are Marco Polo with a day-pass to China.
Which is probably why every successful subscription seller I've interviewed has told me the same thing, "The content customers can access on the very first day better feel like it's worth the entire amount of their subscription fee."
It's incredibly hard to sell someone on something that will arrive later. Consumers want (and trust) instant gratification. That's why it's always easier to sell a one-off product than an ongoing subscription. The way to get around that predicament is to give them something worth the full value of their money on day one. The rest is a bonus, designed to keep you top-of-mind so they don't cancel when renewal time comes around.
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