If you take a good look around the media industry, you may notice something — social media and other big tech companies are no longer dependable revenue sources. This is the time to break away from mainstream advertising tactics and, instead, begin investing in your own digital properties and audience… before it’s too late.
Ultimately, those who control how users are engaging with their platforms will be most likely to survive in the long run.
Forbes even reports that there’s a “direct and proven correlation between the level of customer engagement and business profitability.”
Profitability starts with consumer engagement. Unfortunately, there are still many media organizations that have yet to tap directly into user engagement-related revenue. Look below for a breakdown of the simple ways you can monetize your engaged audience on your own platform.
Use Conversation Tools
People who read comments represent your most engaged audience. With 10% of a platform’s total attention time originating from comments, it’s easy to understand why live conversation widgets are so valuable to media companies.
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And yet, many media players hold negative perceptions about these types of interactive tools. Individuals tend to see conversation tools as a way to tolerate discussion that’s been riddled by trolls, bots and harassment. But in reality, conversation tools that are properly moderated can be a goldmine for user engagement and, therefore, revenue.
Conversation tools that use advanced moderation systems also ensure that the quality of discussion between audience members is high.
Take your conversation tools to the next level by embedding ads between comments. A quick and easy way to boost your company’s earnings is to embed cheap advertisements into these spaces on high-performing content pages.
“When we think about monetizing the comment area, it’s a way to isolate your most engaged audience and put ads in front of them,” says Dan Seaman, product director of engagement tools at Viafoura.
Link Engagement Tools to Your Registration System
In addition to hosting live conversations, there’s a whole slew of user engagement tools that can help you maximize and monetize time spent on your digital properties. For instance, you may choose to use content recommendation tools, live chats or real-time blogging tools to keep your users interested in your offerings.
Once you’ve selected which engagement tools best suit your business’ needs, we highly recommend that they be connected to your member or subscriber registration system.
Your audience engagement tools and paywall provider should be able to work together to send registration messages to highly engaged users. They should also be able to alert you when a subscriber’s engagement drops and they may be about to churn.
Implementing separate engagement and registration systems doesn’t mean that consumer dollars will start pouring in. To effectively monetize your audience, your systems must work together to build engagement and send paywall messages to your most interested consumers when they’re ready to subscribe.
As the CEO of The New York Times puts it: “people don’t want things to be free, they want them to be easy.”
Create Subscription-Only Experiences
“So much of brand-building now is around community,” Thomas Ordahl, the chief strategy officer at a brand consulting company, tells Digiday. “The question is whether you can take all of the equity and then wrap other types of offers and services and benefits around it that become sources of revenue.”
Whether your company relies on digital subscriber-only events (like an exclusive Q&A with a celebrity) or in-person experiences (like meetups with popular journalists), subscription-based experiences can help convince your consumers to pay. Some companies even reserve their engagement tools for subscribers.
Collect User Data
First-party user data is the gift that keeps on giving to media companies. Not only does it allow businesses to learn more about audience members and serve them relevant content, it also improves the ability to advertise to users.
This means that gathering insights on your audience will make your digital property more appealing to other advertisers. Forget running your own advertisements on social media, where you have little control over your content and revenue.
“First-party data becomes the new currency and advertisers know where to buy the media at scale,” states Amit Kotecha, the marketing director at a publisher data company.
In general, the best way to monetize your audience is to make the most of user interactions on your own digital properties. The more opportunities you can give consumers to engage with your brand, the better.