We've been busy behind the scenes recently and have several new capabilities and changes to share with everyone. Here's a list of what will be covered:
- Sign In through Facebook: You can now sign in to our site using the Facebook Mobile Browser (also Instagram and X/Twitter).
- Free Subscriptions Are Going Away: We have dropped the Free Subscription tier and will be removing Free Subscribers in February.
- Newsletters Have Been Segmented: Newsletters have been split up into Snowology Weather, Snowology News, and Snowology Communications allowing Subscribers to choose which emails they wish to receive.
- Reaching Our Goals and Future Work: We have crushed our season projections and with work nearing completion on more rudementary projects we are now focused primarily on adding more discount partners to the Snowology Club and also working on our weather app functionality.
Other refinements to design and presentation are ongoing. For instance we discovered and worked around an issue that was affecting people using Outlook for email, we fixed the list of stories in the footer to rotate recent articles, and are reducing the messaging related to subscribing for current subscribers.
Sign In through Facebook
This is a big deal. We discovered in October that due to the way that 'in app' browsers work in mobile apps like Facebook, Instagram, X/Twitter, and others, that our magic link sign in mechanism would not work due to limited functionality in these browsers. This also confused people, making some think that our sign in system was broken when it was in fact a restriction placed on the browsers by these social media platforms. This only affected people using mobile devices when following links from these social media apps. Many don't realize that social media apps will open links in their own special web browser which are restricted in how they function, but we now have a solution in place!
We have created and launched a new sign in process that detects when you are on one of these platforms and substitutes a key code mechanism allowing you to type in to the browser to authenticate yourself. These codes are random, very short-lived, and will be issued when you first attempt to sign in from the browsers connected to these social media apps. After you have successfully entered your code you will remain signed in to that particular browser for a period of 6 months. Your authentication is stored in a cookie. We designed this to be as easy and intuitive as possible.
Free Subscriptions Are Going Away
We have stopped allowing new sign ups for our Free Subscription tier and by February we will be removing all Free Subscribers. Note, this does not apply to those listed as having a "Complementary Subscription", those are Premium Subscribers associated primarily with Group Subscriptions. We are also looking to remove the "Premium" designation and simply call our customers either "Subscribers" or "Members", both of which are friendlier and easier to say.
A lot of thought and consideration has gone into this decision. We are using a platform designed for self-publishers but Snowology is more than just publishing content. We already offer discounts in our Snowology Club and we will be working on and adding weather and conditions coverage for all Northeast resorts. We're basically becoming more of an app and a Free Subscription tier doesn't fit well with an app as a formal designation with unique privileges. Some content in most articles as well as all News coverage will remain free, there just won't be a free subscription that notifies Free Subscribers by email after we remove them from our system.
The #1 reason for making this change is that we have found that many people have first signed up for a Free Subscription only then to sign up for a Premium Subscription minutes later. So offering a Free Subscription tier was confusing for many and was surely hurting our revenue. Both are undesirable. Doing away with Free Subscriptions will help us segment messaging when our newsletters are received only by those who can see all of the content in the articles. On our website we will also be able to better display messaging about the premium content and the paywall to just those who aren't Premium Subscribers. Currently less than 25% of all of our subscribers are on the Free Subscription tier. We will offer these members a chance to upgrade at a discount before we remove their accounts form our system in February. We'll communicate these changes in more detail very soon just to our Free Subscribers.
Newsletters Have Been Segmented
Starting today we now have three different newsletters where different types of articles will be shared. There is a Snowology Weather Newsletter, a Snowology News Newsletter, and a Snowology Communications Newsletter. Subscribers can unsubscribe to one without unsubscribing to the others. The Snowology Communications Newsletter will occasionally be reset to include everyone as this is how we communicate important things regarding our services.
You can unsubscribe to newsletters by clicking on a link in the footer of the emails, or by signing in to our site and accessing your "Account" where you can turn on and off your newsletter subscriptions.
Reaching our Goals Future Work
First off, we passed our full season projection for paying subscribers this last week. This is a sizeable number. Our projection was slightly conservative and based on what we felt the market demand was within our current reach but something unexpected also happened, we created a buzz and word-of-mouth is now helping us grow beyond our direct reach. We do have a separate 'goal' that is a little higher based on financial targets, but as long as the snow comes we feel this also will be reached and passed.
We have some less active weather in front of us for the next two weeks and with some milestones past us we're going to work hard on getting more Snowology Club discount partners launched. We are also going to start diving in deep with the weather app style coverage of weather and conditions for all ski areas in the Northeast who have a chairlift. We have no estimate for when we will launch this but when we do it will still very much be a work in progress as we have a lot of plans for improving this and doing very unique things.
We will also continue to make refinements to our site and the experience in general as we have done since our subscription service launch back in June.