Subscriptions are, without a doubt, helping to sustain the media industry. As the number of people willing to pay for subscriptions grows, this revenue stream is becoming essential for any media company hoping to survive.
“Purse strings may be tight, but sustained growth in subscriptions [is] up by 19% year-on-year,” explains Dan Ison, a consulting partner at Deloitte.
This means that media companies are witnessing an increasing level of willingness among people to invest in top-quality content and experiences.
And a wealth of information that could help you maximize subscription sales is within your reach. Prepare to find out precisely what makes consumers want to hand over some cash in exchange for a media subscription.
Take a moment to ask yourself a simple question: Would you pay for something you don’t feel connected to? Odds are, you probably wouldn’t.
You can bet that your company’s online visitors will say the same thing: they aren’t going to pay for a subscription if they don’t feel connected to your brand.
Rob Tornoe, a columnist and cartoonist for Editor and Publisher, notes that successful membership projects are powered by “an editorial mindset that values a strong relationship with readers.”
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But a relationship is a two-way street. In other words, both parties need to participate for it to become meaningful enough to invest time and energy into it.
Of course, strong relationships can’t be formed with a middleman blocking you from your potential subscribers. Media companies must take back control of their audiences by establishing social connections on their own websites and apps, away from the trolls, misinformation and inaccessible user data on social media.
Once you show your audience members that they can nurture a connection with or around your company in a safe space, your organization will start to matter to them — and so will your subscription fee.
When people visit a media company’s website or app, they’re often looking to be supported with relevant information, entertainment or social engagement.
If you can prove to visitors that your organization offers a reliable, trusted source of support, you’ll boost your chances of earning their loyalty as subscribers.
“[People] trust your [organization] to solve their problem, or achieve their goal, forever,” says Robbie Kellman Baxter, a business strategy consultant. “They take off their ‘consumer hat’, don a ‘member hat’ and stop considering alternatives.”
Humans are naturally driven by habit, meaning that we all demonstrate similar behaviors over and over again. In the digital world, the unique needs and desires of internet users are made visible by these distinct behaviors through first-party data.
Quartz President Katie Weber states that for companies to achieve subscription growth, they must “focus on really, deeply understanding the audience, what their needs are and where they might be underserved by other publications.”
Organizations can gain insight into each user’s behavior and habits simply by tapping into their user data. Companies that then take the time to provide personalized experiences for their visitors can strengthen overall interest in their digital offerings. As a result, visitors will be more engaged and attentive to a subscription package.
Gaining Access to Exclusive Experiences
Recently, many media companies have seen significant subscriber growth directly tied to locking exclusive (a.k.a “premium”) experiences behind a paywall.
France-based news company Le Parisien has even doubled its paying members by reserving premium content for subscribers. Now, 90% of its subscriber base is generated through these exclusive articles, which draw on user data to maximize engagement.
Media companies can follow suit with high-converting subscriber experiences by reserving content, social tools, podcasts and events for paying subscribers. After all, interesting and relevant experiences are often worth paying a small price to access.
While people are more willing than ever before to pay for a subscription to a media company, there’s an unlimited number of competitors fighting for their attention. Not to mention that each person will only pay for a small number of media subscriptions.
The only way to make your content and services stand out from the rest is to exceed your visitors’ expectations. Create meaningful relationships with audience members, support visitors and produce personalized and exclusive experiences to win over potential subscribers before they ever have a chance to spend their time and money elsewhere.