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Hub Learning Laboratory: Putting Our Assumptions to the Test

Thanks to a grant from the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, we’ve been putting our assumptions to the test about what drives membership. Working with a data scientist, we were able to run several experiments based on theories we developed in our first year of business.

We explored questions such as: what are the best predictors of success regarding membership for news organizations? And also: how much do our recommendations move the needle (specifically our suggestion of creating an email signup call to action (CTA) and running an automated welcome email series)?

What we found was encouraging!

Here are a few takeaways, based on the average Hub client:

  • Hub clients earned roughly twice as much member revenue after joining than they did before.
  • Adding a prominent email signup call to action (CTA) tended to bring in approximately $4,000 more a month, compared to clients who didn’t.
  • Setting up an automated welcome email series earned organizations $10,000 more per month, on average, compared to clients who didn’t.

We’re also learning that how you ask—the language used—matters. As another experiment, we created a WordPress plugin to test whether using paywall style (or metered) language has an impact versus a generic ask. We found that people gave twice as much if they clicked on the metered message (“You’ve read 17 articles this month…”) versus the generic message (“Support journalism…”).

“Working closely with so many news organizations, the Hub is uniquely positioned to conduct experiments and help solve real-world problems plaguing small and medium-sized newsrooms. That’s a big part of our mission,” says Hub CEO Mary Walter-Brown.

Our learning lab experiments are ongoing and we’ll continue to report our findings in this space. Helping our clients help their readers understand the true nature of their own journalism consumption is all a part of the Hub strategy toward sustainable journalism!


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