How the Bend Bulletin increased newsletter signups by 5,235% with iQ Audience+

Aug 9, 2021

"Our previous paywall was a clunky, legacy print subscription process. Even a digital-only subscription was multiple pages, and it was static, based on number of articles only, not behaviors," said Jeremy Feldman, director of audience development at EO Media Group. "TownNews and iQ Audience+ has helped us better understand our audience, segment them, and serve them different offers based on their reading habits. With the built in one-page payment overlay, it takes less than 20 seconds for readers to subscribe."

Feldman and his team worked closely with TownNews to get The Bulletin — a daily newspaper based in Bend, Oregon — launched as a beta tester of the new and improved iQ Audience+ platform. The Bulletin is one of EO Media Group's fifteen local publications covering the Pacific Northwest. (Editor's note: The revamped iQ Audience+ is now available. Click here to learn more.)

"The TownNews team has been amazing to work with," Feldman said. "We have weekly calls with the team to discuss iQ Audience+, promotional items, and 'wish list' items we may want. Even though we are a fairly small company compared to some of the other clients TownNews has, we always feel like we're being heard and things we ask for are being implemented quickly."


To get started, The Bulletin implemented TownNews' recommendations and best practices, and began targeting users by audience type. Readers are categorized in many ways: anonymous, ad blockers, registered, loyal, and brand lovers.

Targeting allows sites to present not just subscription offers, but to also capture email addresses with registration and newsletter sign ups.

"The biggest thing we've seen so far is the ability to put our registration and newsletters in front of our readers," Feldman said. "We've grown our registered users by more than 5,000 and our newsletter opt-ins by more than 1,700 in just two months."

"We're getting people in the top of the funnel," Feldman said. "Each of these registered users equates to real dollars; whether they stay on a newsletter or they ultimately subscribe."


With their previous paywall vendor, The Bulletin saw a cart abandonment rate of more than 80%. "Now, there is no need for an abandoned cart when the entire process is an email address, password, and credit card number. The one-page payment form has been a godsend," Feldman said. "Having the entire purchase process on one modal, that is easy to fill out and doesn't take you off the current page, is amazing!"

In the first two months after switching to iQ Audience+, The Bulletin generated over 325 new digital start conversions. "Our readers are print-centric, but have been very quick to adapt to our digital products and convert to digital only," Feldman said. "We are still gathering the data to see how those numbers compare to prior, but so far we are extremely happy with this setup."

Using the new Offer Builder marketing tool — included with iQ Audience+ — sites can easily change the messaging, design, or duration of promotions from within the admin. Feldman's team has the ability to fully customize promotions when they want, as often as they want.

"Offers are set up based on which audience bucket a reader falls into. The Bulletin can also run limited time special events and incentives, such as tickets to the fair," Sibthorp-Moecker said. "The exciting thing is that offers don't have to be all low-cost $1 trials. In the first two months, 38% of the new conversions were targeted with the 'best offer' $12 deal."


"We ultimately chose to go with iQ Audience+ because of the price, product offerings, and the TownNews team assigned to us," Feldman said. "We looked at other comparable products, but the cost of those was much higher."

With a dedicated team of experts, professional consultations, and industry best practices, iQ Audience+ is not just a paywall, but a smarter metering solution. "We continue to work together with our partners, helping them optimize their strategies and reach their goals," Sibthorp-Moecker said.

Feldman's advice for new partners: Start with the "out of the box" solution. "After you've learned the product fully, then see about making changes. The greatest asset to this solution is the team working on it at TownNews. They know the product, and what you should try to make it even better."