Q&A with “Selling Online Subscriptions” Speaker, Bobby Burton

Last week I featured an available savings on attending the MarketingSherpa Summit, “Selling Online Subscriptions ’08,” to be held May 12-13, 2008 in New York City. I’ve recently had the pleasure of obtaining a question and answer session with Bobby Burton, Chief Operating Officer of Rivals.com and speaker at the Selling Online Subscriptions conference!

Enjoy the interview, and be sure to catch Bobby Burton speaking in New York City on May 12th at 9:30 am, on the topic of Revisiting Subscription Revenue Strategies to Support Changing Business Models.

Remember, if you sign up before April 15th, you are still eligible for the $100-$400 in savings! Sign up now!

Bobby, in the past year, what has been your best tactic or strategy for increasing subscriber conversions?

The best tactic we have used has been increasing the value proposition of our premiums, then leveraging our online community to advocate the value of those premiums to fellow subscribers. Basically, we improved a premium product to an elite level, then asked our readers to help us promote the product as a great “free” add-on for upgrading to an annual subscription.

Could you provide a subscriber friendly example of optimizing revenue? What is a user friendly example to optimize revenue?

If you are an annual subscriber, we give “text alerts,” on your favorite team for free to annual subscribers. The LTV (life time value) of an annual subscriber versus that of a monthly subscriber is significant, so by creating a value in the premium and making people switch to annual to get the premium, it’s an example you’re looking for. The first key is to give them something that is truly of value. These text alerts aren’t just statistics and scores that you can get anywhere, they are newsy, scoopish, and timely.

In the paid subscription business/market, what is your experienced opinion on the right mix of free and paid content?

It could depend on several factors, including niche value of content, pricing, timing of offer (seasonality), premiums, and a dozen other items. But the truth is, there is no universal answer that can be used across subscription properties, because each property is unique. You have to try to find your own sweet spot, but even then, what may sell the most subscriptions may not be best for the overall goals of the business.

How is 2008 and the next few years shaping up for the online subscription market, and why do you feel this way?

From a numbers perspective, I only look at what we do, and we are most definitely bullish. At the end of the day, it’s about demand, and we have demand for our product. It’s up to us to get the subscriptions.

What’s the number one conversation you want to have with some of your peers at the SOS Summit?

I always like to hear the ideas of others. I’m looking for anything to improve our numbers, whether it’s new subscriptions, premiums, annual conversions, or annual improvement rates.

What’s it like to be COO or Rivals.com?

Very cool.


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