Timing of Renewal Notices


Recent visits to LCNI newspapers revealed wide variances on when subscription renewal notices are sent. In an effort to minimize the waster of second notices/postage and irritation of customers who get a second notice too soon, we want to remind you of our suggested best practice. The suggestion is based on a CI team that worked on the problem nearly 10 years ago. We believe the results remain valid. It is restated, with some updated language, below.


The ideal timing for renewal notices appears to be either six or five weeks before expiration, and then one to zero weeks before expiration. Just four weeks between notices is too short a time span, and may force the second notice to arrive too soon. (Many people pay bills once a month, and the second notice too soon is not only wasteful but can annoy customers.)


Sending the second, or final notice much after zero weeks is too short. Even with grace periods, subscriptions can still stop then have to be restarted. Sending the second/final notice too early results in needless duplication. The goal is to send the second/final notice as late as possible, but with time left to pay before expiration. Remember that there is 2-4 week grace period-we generally recommend three weeks, to work on retaining them with calls, even third notices.


In the 1990s, we said that third notices should be eliminated. With retention tougher and tougher these days, and people busier and busier, we would leave that to your discretion. Some people see a need to send a third notice either at, near, or right after the end of the grace period.


Another caution: Some papers have experienced delays in delivery of Standard Mail (old Third Class) renewals. If you have that concern, your entire series might be backed up a week from the above recommendations.


You may want to test and measure results of various timing sequences. Our tests showed that best timing as stated above could result in a rate of second notices mailed (as a percentage of first notices) in the low thirties. Some papers that were sending from 53-68% of their notices a second time dropped that to 30-35% without harming renewals. Dollar savings are substantial.


Track the number of second notices sent, and compute what percentage of the first notices they represent.  (For example, 139 second notices = 42.5% of 327 first notices.) After gathering data for several consecutive mailings over 3 months, if you are above 35%, consider changing in timing in line with our recommendations. (Change only one variable at a time and track for a few weeks before making additional changes.)