top of page

Switching From Legacy Systems to a Modern Subscription Platform

Updated: Mar 16

Magazine publishers, local newspapers, basically anyone who has been in the publishing business and lived through changes in this industry has a common struggle to confront. While everywhere reader revenue is being hailed as the future of the industry and the saving grace of publishing, this has left many people convinced of the why, but the question remains how. If you’re struggling with a legacy system that was built to deal with publishing as it was in years gone by, adjusting to the new landscape of publishing can be more difficult than it needs to be. The key to reader revenue is the ability to understand your readers and adapt to their needs. It requires a system that is highly agile and customizable. Legacy systems, often, are not.

We’ve helped numerous clients transition from the legacy systems of print subscription days, old software that was not developed after the most recent innovations in paywall technology. Instead of trying to adapt existing systems that were built with a different purpose in mind, publishers need to make the switch to systems that were designed for driving reader revenue. Pelcro not only makes this transition possible but easy as well.

Why Make The Switch From Legacy Systems to Pelcro?


In a study done by Publishing Executive, over half of the publishers surveyed said that they were not confident their business was ready to implement a highly personalized program. Many media companies are still using legacy systems (you’ll know if you are), making it difficult to implement personalized campaigns. Most legacy systems don’t have paywalls and the ones that do can’t A/B test. The paywalls are not dynamic and can’t target or personalize. Written in the 80’s, the software language for systems like CDS Global are very old and not well adapted to the current needs of publishers.

Because data is stored in text files, these systems are often not compatible with any of the up-to-date technologies out there. It’s almost impossible to integrate with MailChimp, for example, or any of the new payment gateways like Stripe. With the reader revenue model comes the need for newer technology that can play nicely with all of the vendors needed to make subscription revenue a success, from making sure that subscriber information can be managed to running ongoing email marketing campaigns and reducing churn.


When looking at usability two things that companies need to examine closely are the customer experience and the ease of use for their team.

● Customer Experience: On the customer experience side legacy systems often lack the ability to create a fluid purchase experience from beginning to end.

Customers are used to a certain ease when it comes to purchasing stuff online in the age of Apple Pay and Amazon’s “one button to purchase”. This creates a huge disconnect when, in purchasing a magazine subscription or website access, customers are redirected to a new page with an overwhelming form. Assuming you make it to the end, you’ve already forgotten what you were reading and what made you subscribe in the first place.

Legacy systems subscription forms vs Pelcro's

Users also expect a certain level of ease when they need to change account information. A lot of the older software providers use antiquated payment gateways that are not flexible. It’s hard to get the subscriber to unsubscribe on their own so they have to call in or send an email creating an overall negative user experience. Basic info such as payment methods, address, etc. should not have to be done over the phone or even requested at all. They should be able to do this easily through their own user profile in minutes. This also keeps you in good standing with GDPR protocol because users need the ability to delete their credit card information.

● Ease of Use: Because of the way that legacy systems are set up, very often steps along the subscription process are manual, meaning both that the internal team is tied up with time-consuming tasks and the user experiences a lag time between signing up and receiving their subscription. In some cases, it could take up to twelve hours to actually get access to the subscription, and whatever article they signed up through is long gone and of no interest.

Instead of entering subscriber information in one system and transferring it manually to another system giving them access to the content, the process should be fluid, immediate, and most of all automatic. With new technology, you can significantly cut down costs by automating a lot of the subscription process. Instead of sending emails by hand, you can set events and boundaries so that emails are sent automatically. Instead of choosing who the content should show up to, let machine learning algorithms adjust accordingly.

Think of how many things you do manually and how many of those processes can be automated to create huge time savings. We helped one company create a process that was 12 times faster to subscribe and access content and saw a 30% increase in staff efficiency and use of time. You can also save costs by skipping excessive API calling charges and other ridiculous payments.

The legacy systems are also using legacy payment gateways. They have their own payment network so they can process credit and debit cards, but this doesn’t enable you to have all of the user information in one place, often separating essential data such as names from actual payment info. In addition, you can’t use things like Apple Pay and Google Pay which can help increase conversions, especially on mobile.

When Pelcro uses Stripe, we sync all of the data. We know everything about the person and all of the information is centralized for convenience so that you can easily offer upgrades and add-ons.

● Flexibility: As a publisher, you should be able to react in real-time as you gather data without having to rely on the entire internal or external IT team for every little change. This limits your ability to test new ideas and react to changes quickly. In legacy systems, the format of the data, the database structure, and payment processors are all extremely outdated. Once you set it, it’s essentially set in stone. This makes it hard to adjust with ease and makes things like Christmas deals or seasonal offers virtually impossible.

The problem is that when you just present a generic paywall without testing you’re only going to attract early adopters. To get more users, you need to be able to customize and A/B test so that you can tailor messages for each type of audience.

In updating to a newer system, publishers can gain the ability to quickly and with little effort:

A/B test

Offer discounts

Change plans

Change copy

Data & Analytics:

Having an optimized sales funnel is important for understanding your readers and is an integral part of having a more granular A/B testing strategy. Any software you use should have the ability to segment your sales funnel to see precisely at what point your potential subscribers might be dropping off. Price may not be as relevant a factor as you think, for example, if your subscribers are falling off at the account creation phase before ever reaching the portion where they input their credit card information.

Newer systems offer publishers the ability to track properly from funnel data to determine drop-offs to segmentation data in order to find out which campaigns and articles are actually converting users.

Traditional analytics focus on metrics like time spend and the number of pageviews more than loyalty and engagement. The focus is on how many people are seeing the content and whether advertisers see value in that as opposed to the number of people that are happy with the content providing them with value. Having a system that allows you to look at analytics with the reader in mind is an incredibly important asset for publishers.

Switching from your legacy system to a comprehensive paywall technology system helps you get the data that counts and actually own it. Centralized data can help you understand your business in ways that you could not do before. Data portability also gives you the flexibility and freedom to use that data for many purposes.

Making the Switch

This is all well and good, but exactly how easy is it to make the switch when you’ve been using your legacy system for years? The answer is, surprisingly easy. At Pelcro we can take data from your older system and integrate and migrate that into our system. We’ve created our own software to migrate into CSV files. You can just hand us the information and we’ll convert it and insert it into our databases, no additional work needed from you and your team. We use cloud storage to manage everything and also give you full control and access to the data, handling both print and digital subscriptions.

It’s important to find a vendor that has everything you need to help you with the transition. When making the final call, make sure that whoever you choose is future-proof, offering you the ability to adapt to the changing environment. Things you should make sure your new solution has:

✓Flexible/API Driven

✓Efficient data storage/management

✓Changes can be made from the dashboard

✓Effective reader support tools

✓Dynamic paywall

✓Machine learning

✓Knowledge to help you and make professional recommendations

At Pelcro, we take publishers through a 3-step process that is geared towards setting a solid foundation in place so that you can get to testing and gathering actual data in the fastest and most efficient way possible.

Next Steps?

Deciding where to start can get overwhelming. That’s why Pelcro doesn’t just give you all the tools you need. Pelcro’s 3-month Launchpad Process is designed to get you up and running in no time. Throughout the process, you will learn everything you need to know about the platform and get recommendations from industry professionals.

Are you interested in implementing these strategies using our dynamic subscription platform to increase your subscription revenue? Contact us to learn more.


bottom of page