Thanks to the unpredictable algorithms on big tech platforms and decline of third-party cookies, the most effective path to earning revenue is changing. Media companies must now compensate for these failing revenue streams by investing in their own properties.
As a result, subscription or membership-based business models are becoming commonplace among media companies. But with most consumers only willing to pay for up to four media services at a time, the competitive landscape is resulting in high amounts of subscriber churn.
“It is always much easier to retain somebody than to bring in someone new, because they already value and trust you,” states Condé Nast’s VP of audience development and analytics.
So to keep your audience members loyal and lucrative, you must focus on activating and engaging a tight-knit community right on your website or app.
But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what your fellow industry experts have to say on how to go about reducing customer churn.
The Athletic: Building an Engaged Community
Every loyal, paying community starts with an engaging conversion strategy. And The Athletic’s CEO, Alex Mather, thinks so too.
“We see an incredible connection between community engagement and subscriber retention,” says Mather. “The question that drives us is how can we connect users in an authentic way, how can we connect users to our staff in an authentic way.”
Successful conversion strategies tend to connect engagement and registration systems together. That way, you can detect drops in engagement, and send special content offers to those likely to churn.
The Wall Street Journal: Early Habit Formation
“The biggest driver of churn reduction amongst new [subscription] members is the creation of early habit formation,” writes Ian Tucker, the associate director of optimization at The Wall Street Journal.
The Wall Street Journal’s subscriber onboarding process ensures that the first 100 days after becoming a subscriber — the period a user is most likely to form habits — are packed with opportunities for engagement.
The more interactions you can encourage from your subscribers, the more likely they are to return to your property in the future. Translation: encourage your readers to habitually use your platform, and watch as their loyalty grows.
“It’s not just about building our membership models, and looking at churn rates, and acquisitions rates,” states Jonathan Wright, who works as the global managing director for Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal. “It’s really about the engagement of those customers once we have them on the platform, once they’re experiencing the content.”
The New York Times: Understanding Subscribers
User data truly stands at the heart of engaging and retaining consumers at The New York Times. According to the company’s editorial director of newsletters, data and user research is essential in helping companies learn what kinds of content subscribers crave, and how they most wish to consume it.
In other words, a business can best understand its audience by seriously digging into its first-party data, and then using that knowledge to refine the subscriber experience.
It’s also important to monitor your audience data and engagement closely to understand why and when subscribers are churning.
“The bottom line is that people who aren’t using the product are likely to churn… Email them, reach out to remind them what you’re doing and what’s of value to them,” explains The Times’ CEO.
There are a multitude of ways you can help to prevent your audience members from unsubscribing. Learn how to prevent churn and re-engage unsubscribers here.
OTT Platforms: Personalization
“We know that today’s connected consumers expect a deeply personalized experience,” states Jason Wong, Hulu’s director of product management.
Through the power of your audience’s data, you can enrich their experience with relevant information and content.
“If you can understand what people care about during the process, and prove to them you can be trusted with the information you’re asking for, that goes a long way. Then they can just focus on the experience they are trying to buy,” says the head of the acquisition and retention team at DAZN.
Consumers are willing to pay for valuable media experiences. So by engaging your subscribers through custom and “premium” experiences, you’ll be setting your company up for long-term success.