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Five Common Mistakes Media Companies Make That Lead to Subscriber Churn

Subscribers are helping to fund the media industry right now. And in order to maximize reader revenue, companies are working to perfect their subscription strategies.

Juan Señor, president at a media consulting company, explains that “many publishers can expect to get up to 50% of their revenues from reader revenue, and [that number’s] growing.”

However, this boom in reader revenue doesn’t come without a major challenge: subscriber churn. As media companies begin to see interest in coronavirus content tapering off, they’re fighting tooth and nail to keep readers loyal and paying. 

But reducing subscriber churn doesn’t have to be a complicated task… especially if you know what’s causing it. To help prevent you from losing precious, paying community members, here are a few common mistakes your media company should avoid making at all costs.

1. Allowing Toxic Comments to Exist

While hosting user commenting tools is a powerful way to engage visitors, letting people post offensive content comes with consequences. Some of these consequences can include trolls and community-wide disengagement. 

In fact, nearly 50% of members will remove themselves from a platform when they see incivility from user comments. Many advertisers and advertising platforms also don’t want to be associated with any type of offensive content. 

By protecting the quality of conversations through an effective moderation solution, you’ll protect your brand’s reputation and ability to monetize its community.

2. Not Leveraging First-Party Data

Any insight you can get into the behavior and interests of your visitors is extremely useful. It can be used to improve their experience with your brand and strengthen the relevance of your content. 

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“Companies that are able to produce insights from content, audiences and commerce transactions will be the most successful going forward,” Kristen O’Hara, the chief business officer at Hearst Magazines, tells Digiday

Plus, now that third-party cookies are being phased out by internet browsers, businesses must focus on gathering and analyzing first-party data. Failure to do so could prevent you from knowing how to keep your community members interested in your content and willing to pay for a subscription. 

3. Leaving Subscribers Unengaged

Many media companies believe that the process of engaging visitors must continue until they convert into a member or subscriber. But onsite audience engagement shouldn’t stop after this conversion point.

Without engaging your subscribers, they can become disengaged and churn.

“Once people come across your content the key is to make it easy, accessible and engaging in the hope they will come back,” says Chris Waiting, CEO of The Conversation.This rings true for visitors at every step in their digital journey — whether it’s their first visit to your website or they’ve already subscribed.

4. Focusing on Building a Community on Social Media Instead of on Your Website

There are thousands of active users on social media. Some media companies are, therefore, tempted to use it as their primary way to connect with consumers. 

Unfortunately, companies don’t have much control over user data, who sees their content or the quality of conversations on social media, and are subject to comments from trolls and bots.

The New York Times’ COO, Meredith Kopit Levien, stresses the importance of building “a direct path for sending… 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.”

Social media, and any other type of content aggregation platform, removes that element of control over readers for businesses. It also prevents you from reaching, understanding and engaging the subscribers that you’ve already earned.

5. Not Positioning Your Brand to Be Trustworthy

Robbie Kellman Baxter, a strategy consultant, explains that consumers pay for subscriptions because “they trust your [organization] to solve their problem, or achieve their goal, forever.” 

No matter what kind of content your media company creates, it’s essential that your company is a trustworthy resource for consumers. 

But brands can jeopardize this trust through several actions: like allowing toxicity to exist in social spaces, running your trustworthy content near misinformation on third-party platforms or even not being transparent enough with your audience. 

You can’t expect consumers to continue paying for your services if they don’t believe in your brand. To position your brand as a trustworthy resource, be sure you’re meeting your community’s needs, serving up reliable content, and are taking steps to keep them safe. 

It can be easy for any media company to make a simple mistake that has detrimental effects. Thankfully, you now have everything you need to avoid these common pitfalls and continue on the path toward success and sustainability.

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