Growing Paid Subscriptions with Facebook Ads: A Small Boats Magazine Case Study

Do Facebook ads drive subscription revenue?

Can ads really drive enough subscription revenue to be worth it? The answer is yes. We dive into a successful Facebook campaign that was run 1 year ago for 3 months and reveal the results.

Article Summary:

Targeted Facebook do drive new subscription revenue for Small Boats Monthly. We took a look at the discount campaign Small Boats Monthly ran 1 year ago. For 3 months they offered a $1/mo offer and one year later are seeing the fruits of their efforts.

Here is the promotional landing page

Key Points:

  1. The Power of Targeted Advertising:
    • Small Boats Magazine’s campaign focused on individuals interested in building wooden boats, utilizing Facebook’s strength in demographic targeting.
    • This approach is applicable across various publications, allowing for geographic, income level, or interest-based segmentation.
  2. Offer and Framework:
    • The campaign offered unlimited access for $1 a month, billed annually ($12).
    • While effective, we would suggest removing the $1 aspect to avoid devaluing the publication. A flat annual rate might enhance perceived value and renewal rates.
  3. Reader Engagement Flow:
    • The campaign’s structure included a clear pitch with subscribe buttons, content samples, and an option for free registration.
    • This flow nurtures readers from initial curiosity to paid subscription or at least email capture for future marketing efforts.
  4. Campaign Costs and Results:
    • The three-month campaign cost approximately $3,000, resulting in about 100 paid subscribers per month. If you do the math (100 subs x 3 months x $12) they essentially paid for their Facebook ads.
    • Notably, 1 year later, 47% of trial readers converted to full-paying subscribers, which was a successful return on investment.
  5. Additional Benefits of Free Registration:
    • Besides paid subscriptions, the campaign also grew the magazine’s email list.
    • Free registrations also attract more engaged readers, providing opportunities for monetization through newsletter advertising.
  6. Future Strategies and Recommendations:
    • The hosts emphasize the importance of crafting an irresistible offer to cover Facebook ad costs and ensure conversion.
    • They also highlight the potential in sponsorship and advertising revenue from growing email lists.


By strategically targeting the right audience and crafting compelling offers, publications can effectively use Facebook ads to increase both subscriptions and engagement. The success of Small Boats Magazine serves as a testament to this approach, offering a replicable model for your publication.

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Peter Ericson

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