Monday, October 3, 2011 at 4:33 pm.

“The Daily” 8 months in, 80,000 paying subs

Official numbers from The Daily, via AdAge’s Michael Learmonth:

Today The Daily has 120,000 active weekly readers, 80,000 of whom are actually paying for the app, according to Publisher Greg Clayman. The bigger number includes 40,000 non-paying readers on a two-week introductory trial period. About 15% of people who sign up for a trial ultimately end up subscribing, he said.

Assuming the same conversion rate, The Daily will need about 500,000 more downloads to double its subscriber base. And it will need almost 3 million more downloads until it gets to 500,000 paying subscribers, the supposed “viable business” target. But right now, The Daily only seems to be attracting 20,000 trial readers a week, if it has 40,000 in a 2-week trial. That’s too slow — it would take 3 years to get 3 million trial subs that way, not even taking churn into consideration.

(Even still, The Daily is generally in the top 20 highest-grossing iPad apps on a daily basis, according to AppAnnie.)

Personally, I haven’t used The Daily app since the free trial ran out, until just now. Part of the problem was that the app was slow and flaky back then. The bigger problem was that the content didn’t strike me as anything I needed to read, or pay to subscribe to. As someone who trolls Twitter for news all day, I am probably not the target audience, either.

Occasionally, now and then, I’ll click on a link and I’ll get to The Daily’s website, and I’ll be happy with what I see. For kicks, I just launched the app, and there does seem to be some free content to browse, but I don’t know how old it is. It seems okay, but I’m still not compelled to subscribe, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be.

How does that 15% conversion rate compare to other media? Okay, but not great, it seems. Here’s a decent Quora thread on the topic, including this bit from Tim Geisenheimer:

My experience is with trial software rather than online services based on selling DR programs on Download.com to software publishers. The number I work with is generally fairly low. A 3-5% conversion rate is a range I’ve commonly seen in helping clients determine ROI on programs on Download.com.

As another data point, Sirius XM reports a conversation rate around 45% — but its free trials are typically several months long, and it has a monopoly on satellite radio. The Daily is one of thousands of iPad news apps, many of which are free.

Anyway, not a home run. But probably worth the experiment. This stuff is hard!

Also: 500 days with the iPad