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Prospect convert email contacts to paid subscribers with automated subscription path


  • To convert members of the free newsletter service to paying subscribers


Prospect is the leading current affairs, culture and ideas monthly. A home for long-form journalism in the UK, the title covers politics, economics, literature, the arts, science and history in-depth and with an eye on the future.


Prospect created an automated email subscription path including the best of the magazine’s content, new writing and information about the benefits of taking a paid subscription. Testing the balance, offers and timing is ongoing.

The Challenge

The marketing team have data to show that the first 30 days after someone joins the newsletter is the critical period in which they are most likely to upgrade to a paid subscription. Despite having a small marketing team, Prospect wanted to build and nurture their database with email automation, testing and optimization at the heart of its growth.

The ultimate aim was to increase the bottom line.

The Solution

To persuade newsletter signups of the value of a paid subscription, Prospect’s team put together an automated nurture email program. The journey on this path starts with the initial sign up to the newsletter. New website visitors get a pop-up asking them to join the newsletter list (they can also join through permanent sign-up forms on every page of the Prospect website).

prospect subscripton pop-up

Joining the newsletter gives a website visitor access to the latest Prospect writing, a free e-book containing some of Prospect’s best articles and access to seven articles of the user’s choice on the website.

The first email in the series shares the download of the e-book promised at sign up, sets expectations for what subscribers will learn and introduces a first offer of a paid trial of three issues for £1. To convey the value of the paid subscription, newsletter readers receive further emails in this path with a mixture of content:

  • Direct links to the most popular articles from Prospect’s archive
  • Existing content automatically inserted via an XML feed from their website
  • Subscription offers to incentivize conversion

Prospect started the project with testing and optimization in mind. Among other things, they have experimented with subject lines and subscription incentives.

Email campaign example


Once a newsletter reader converts to a paid subscriber, they are taken out of the nurture program.

The Result

Since it has been implemented, this program has generated hundreds of subscriptions for Prospect. In fact, 3.4% of contacts who are entered in the subscription path convert to a paid subscription within one month, which is an amazing achievement!

3.4% of contacts convert in first 30 days

46% open rate

In terms of engagement, the contacts have shown high engagement throughout the cycle with open rates as high as 46% and consistently over 20% for emails sent a month after the initial newsletter sign up.

Testing and optimization have helped the marketing team refine their content, subject lines and incentives.

In the process, the Prospect team also developed an efficient way of maintaining and managing their database, and ultimately increase revenue.

Could email automation help you boost your results?

Contact Adestra today to discover how we can help you make your data work harder with the use of powerful technology.