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From Anonymous to Subscriber

What media provider wouldn’t love it if every user who encountered their site immediately turned into a dedicated subscriber?

Unfortunately, that’s not the typical path of users today. Inundated with options and slow to trust any given content site, most take a longer journey toward subscription, if they get there at all. To help them along, media brands need to offer content that connects. But they can also demonstrate added value that gives users further reason to invest – creating a community experience that drives loyalty to their brand.

Understanding the Path to Subscription

The path to subscription isn’t the same for everyone. Some readers might visit a site for months before they choose to subscribe, while for others it just takes a visit or two. Some never choose to subscribe at all. For content creators, the key is to find ways to increase the value of their service, and encourage a quicker journey to conversion.

To do that, modern media companies need ways to maximize the value of their product, in turn reducing churn and minimizing the number of visits it takes to convert. They might do that by offering exclusive content, like a daily crossword puzzle or expert Q&A, or go even further to improve their reader experience overall, through live content or better ways to connect. In fact, an informed balance between those two things – maximizing value and improving the user experience – is often the key to building their subscription base. And they’re closely linked.

Put simply, paying subscribers want to feel that they’re getting extra value, and that sense of value is tied closely to the experience they have.

Adding User Value

It’s no coincidence that over 80 percent of registrations happen on pages that have value-add features.1 In fact, it’s just common sense.

Consider, for example, a sports site that reports baseball scores in real time. Now add in live chat functionality that allows fans to discuss a game as it unfolds. Suddenly you have a gathering spot – a community of like-minded individuals. Users aren’t just checking the scores, but also engaging in commentary and sharing ideas with each other. Add a livestream of the game itself, so that everyone can watch together while they chat, and you’ve created even more value. Make it so users have to be subscribers before they can participate at all, and it’s only natural that they’ll want to join up.

These are the types of value-add features that can help enhance the user experience to grow audience engagement and subscriptions. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. Building up a subscriber base is reliant on understanding the needs of your audience. For one site, direct access to exclusive content might be the key, for another it may be turning off advertising for subscribers. Direct engagement from journalists or a personalized profile with custom notifications to grow an onsite community presence are other value-add features that can ultimately sway anonymous users to convert and grow a relationship with your brand.

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Whatever strategy media providers use, building a direct audience relationship and creating a valuable experience on their owned and operated channels not only impacts engagement – increasing the frequency of user visits, encouraging return visits, and adding to the overall time spent on site – but can also create conversions and ultimately affect their bottom line.

Congratulations, You Have a Subscriber

Converting a user into a subscriber may take some extra effort, but that effort is worth it, because subscribers have value. Besides being more loyal and engaged readers, subscribers grant you access to the details of their behavior on your site. Capturing their engagement metrics can drive media companies forward to even more growth.

So understanding the path to subscription, and the value you can add at every step, is more important than ever. But what happens when you succeed and manage to create enough loyalty to build your subscription base?

Hint: you can’t stop adding value then.

Acquiring a customer is only half the battle. Keeping them is the next step.

To find out more about the value of subscribers and four ways you can keep them engaged, read our next blog post in this series: What’s In a Premium Subscription?

* Calculated from Viafoura customer data insights.

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