Corner Office: Digging Up a Bigger Audience
While many magazines have made industry headlines this year for declining rate bases, Archaeology has managed to buck the trend. The 60-plus-year-old magazine, published by the nonprofit Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), announced earlier this year that its rate base had increased 4.65 percent to 225,000. How is the bimonthly—geared toward both professional archaeologists and archaeology enthusiasts—wooing new and current subscribers? AIA Executive Director Teresa Keller spoke with Publishing Executive about how the magazine is succeeding at a difficult time for both the country and the magazine publishing industry.
How did you increase subscriptions?
Teresa Keller: … First, we lowered our cost per paid order on direct mail, so that we could afford to increase the volume of our direct mail. We did this by negotiating lower print costs, testing various versions of a modified voucher package and by revising our control package, which is a traditional #10 soft-offer package. We also implemented a lower price for direct-mail conversions.
Overall, the profitability of our direct mail improved by about 30 percent, which allowed us to increase [our direct-mail volume] by 33 percent to three campaigns of one million pieces each.
We also brought in more new subscribers through agents. … A few [were new agents], but most gains were achieved by working with our existing agent base. We were able to obtain more prominent advertising in exchange for a slight reduction in our remit[tance]. We also lowered our remit in certain instances … to be included in more agent promotions.
What part did renewals play in the rate-base increase? How did you encourage renewals?
Keller: We completely revised our renewal series during 2008 and tested it against our control series. We did not reduce our pricing, but instead changed our message. The new renewal packages stressed the money and paper that is saved when subscribers renew with their first renewal notice. Because we are a nonprofit, [that money saved] will make the magazine … even better, … [increase] our education programs, and can even [help] save precious archaeological sites. The new series did very well and was fully implemented in 2009.
How are print revenues compared to previous years? How are you sustaining revenue or offsetting any losses?
Keller: Print revenue is down overall. This past fiscal year was down just over 8 percent from the prior fiscal year, so all-in-all not that bad. But we have … [implemented] more strategic integrated programs through the basic print/Web buy. As well, we have broadened our online offers to meet the individual needs of our clients, in some cases through a cost-per-click program, and in other instances through the offer of a specifically tailored, interactive Web page.
[We also are] parlaying some of our Institute events into fuller marketing/sponsorship campaigns. These options have generated considerable interest among our clients, and we’re expecting a revenue uptick … . In fact, our first two issues of the current fiscal year already have shown a slight increase in average net revenue. Another initiative … is to publish our first-ever [special-interest publication], which will come out this November on Ancient Egypt—with more planned in the future. This, too, has brought about unbudgeted
As a magazine published by a nonprofit organization, what are your greatest challenges?
Keller: … Serving the diverse audiences of the magazine and the institute. Our readers include archaeologists … as well as folks who are just beginning to learn about archaeology.