Grant print subscribers online access using the Print Upgrade Membership

Grant print subscribers online access using the Print Upgrade Membership
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Some of the most common questions we’re asked by new customers or those considering our service relate to how we allow offline print subscribers to claim matching online access, primarily for cases where the newspaper or publication offers online access as a part of any print subscription at no additional cost.

This is accomplished using our Print Upgrade Membership tool, with a little help from the publisher.

The Print Upgrade Membership tool adds a new subscription option to the Subscribe page: the Print Upgrade Membership. Anyone with an offline print subscription can select this option to request free online access.

During the sign up process, they’ll be asked to enter a username, password and e-mail address to create their online account. They’ll also be asked to enter their mailing address, including state and zip code.

Once they’ve filled out the form and clicked “Request Print Upgrade”, the system will check to see whether or not the user has an active offline print subscription using the details they’ve entered.

If yes, they are successfully granted the Print Upgrade Membership, allowing them to access all digital content. If no, they are declined and told to contact the office for further assistance.

How does Verification work?

Now, you’re probably wondering how exactly we’re able to go about verifying whether each user has an active offline subscription or not. Unfortunately, it isn’t magic — and that’s where the “help from the publisher” I mentioned earlier comes in.

Newspapers using the Print Upgrade System will be asked to regularly upload a spreadsheet containing all of their active offline print subscribers to the website. This is done directly from the WordPress Dashboard under MemberPress -> Import Print Users.

This spreadsheet should contain, at minimum, an ID column and a Street Address column, but depending which verification process you’re using, may also require Email Address or Phone Numbers. Our staff will help you get your spreadsheet formatted properly depending on whether you want to verify using Street Address, Phone Number, or Email Address.

Once this spreadsheet is imported, each subscriber/address included on the imported list is essentially stored in a “queue” waiting to be claimed by a digital account.

When someone attempts to claim their Print Upgrade Membership, the information they enter is cross-checked with the information on this spreadsheet and those who are successfully verified are granted online access with an indefinite expiration date.

This indefinite expiration date is because MemberPress does not communicate with your print circulation system in real time, so we have no way of automatically updating expiration dates when a offline print subscriber renews at your office.

Instead, each time you upload a new list of print subscribers, the system checks any existing Print Upgrade Memberships to make sure that they still exist on the newly uploaded spreadsheet. If they still exist, there is no change and the subscriber continues to enjoy online access. If the subscriber no longer exists on the new spreadsheet (indicating they no longer have an offline print subscription), their Print Upgrade Membership is cancelled and their online access is revoked.

It is important to upload your list regularly to make sure that all of the newest offline subscribers are able to claim their Print Upgrade Membership, as well as to make sure that any existing Print Upgrade Members who didn’t renew their offline print subscription have their access revoked.

What if I want offline print subscribers to pay extra for online access?

We realize that not all publications want to give away digital access to print subscribers for free. Many publishers consider the digital product more valuable than print; so it doesn’t always makes sense to allow any print subscriber to add online for free. Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered there as well!

The Print Upgrade Tool also supports Paid Print Upgrades, which does exactly what it sounds like: it allows an offline reader to add digital access for a price.

Paid Print Upgrades use the same verification process, but rather than immediately granting successfully verified users free online access, it applies a coupon code for “X” amount off the digital subscription price.

For example, if a newspaper’s standard digital membership is $50 for a year and print is $30 for a year, we could set it up so that visitors can verify their offline print subscription and purchase the online add-on for just $20 a year rather than the full $50.

You can read more about Paid Print Upgrades in our Feature Highlight from last year!

If you’re not already using the Print Upgrade Membership or Paid Print Upgrades on your website and want to, reach to our support team at and ask us to help set it up!

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