Earning reader revenue isn’t a simple task in the media industry. Even with a paywall in place, those precious subscriptions won’t start pouring in on their own. Not unless your company has a strong subscription strategy.

So what kinds of subscription-driving tactics can delight visitors and convince them to become dedicated community members?

We see subscribers weighing up personal benefits, such as distinctive content, convenience, and value, with perceived benefits for society,” state the authors of Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2020.

This means that companies must cater to the needs and interests of consumers while serving their entire communities to create loyal subscribers.

For those of you who are hoping to strengthen your existing subscription strategy, there are several tactics worth trying out. Let’s look at some of the effective subscription strategies that publishers have recently implemented for some inspiration.

Personalizing the Visitor Experience With Audience Data

Audience data is a powerful tool that media companies can use to enrich their subscription strategies, satisfying the needs and desires of consumers.  

ARA, a Spanish publisher in Barcelona, credits its 3,200 new subscribers largely to its use of first-party audience data. The media company closely assessed its community members to tailor their experiences to their behaviors and content interests.

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“We want to know where our audiences are, how they consume, how they read our news and we started to produce more according to these audiences,” says Georgina Ferri Todera, the chief revenue and innovation officer at ARA. “But the first step was knowing more about our audiences.”

The Wall Street Journal has also recognized the need to start collecting audience data to personalize its subscribers’ experience. As a result, subscribers are more likely to have a positive digital experience and remain loyal to the brand.

Communicating Directly With Audiences

If you’re not sure what could make your company’s content and on-site experience more appealing to consumers, you can always turn to your audience for answers. 

TIME, for instance, asked consumers directly about what resources it could provide to help people during the early stages of the pandemic. 

“People told us what they want and we fulfilled it for them,” explains Maya Draisin, SVP of progress marketing at TIME. “And they responded with 1.5 million views.”

In general, your audience is your compass. By following their directions and fulfilling their needs, you can reinforce the value of your company’s content and subscription program.

Opting Out of Big Tech Platforms

For professionals in the digital world, the instinct to promote content across multiple social media and news aggregation channels is only natural. Many people expect to attract greater audiences and more subscribers by promoting content on third-party websites. 

However, this approach can actually be counterproductive to your subscription program. Not only do consumers lack trust in the content on big tech platforms, but your company also loses revenue as well as precious audience data to the host platform. 

The New York Times is one of the latest media companies to recognize the value of creating direct relationships with readers on its own properties. 

After opting out of Apple’s news aggregation platform, the Time’s COO, Meredith Kopit Levien, stated that the company can form a direct path for sending those readers back into our environments, where we control the presentation of our report, the relationships with our readers, and the nature of our business rules.”

Build a direct relationship with readers to, therefore, earn their trust and forge daily habits that lead to long-term subscription growth.

Working Audience Engagement Into the Subscription Plan

While there’s no single right way to use a paywall, some publishers see merit in engaging audiences before revealing a subscription message. 

This process helps consumers feel connected to media companies, and then when they’re active enough online, guides them to become loyal subscribers. 

Slate is one of many publishers that have implemented this strategy. 

“If you want people to join or subscribe, asking them to do it voluntarily is not quite enough,” explains Dan Check, CEO of Slate. 

You can encourage on-site audience engagement through interactive tools and exceptional journalism before and after visitors subscribe to your services.

Go beyond your paywall by strengthening your company’s connection to its audience. 

Whether you choose to replicate these strategies on your digital properties or not, your ability to increase your loyal subscribers all comes down to engaging and understanding consumers. Tie these core actions into your subscription strategy to create and retain a strong community of brand advocates.

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