Loyalty Plays: The Next Era Of Retention

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There’s an old saying in marketing that “it costs more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one.” Some studies have shown it can cost up to five times more to focus solely on customer acquisition at the disservice of customer retention.

Publishers who focus solely on registration and pumping out as much content as possible often neglect relationships with existing readers. By taking stock of current relationships and finding new ways to reward subscribed readers for brand loyalty, publishers are far more likely to improve customer retention rates.

Don’t devalue retention: it’s more profitable than you know

There’s money to be made in retention, even with a slight move of the needle in the right direction. According to a Harvard Business School study, improving customer retention rates by as little as 5% can improve profitability by 25%. In some cases, profits can rise up to 95%.

Those findings are similar to research conducted by Gartner, which determined that 80% of business profits come from 20% of existing customers. Additionally, the success rate of converting an existing reader into a paying subscriber ranges between a 60% to 70% success rate. Conversely, the success rate of converting a new reader into a subscriber ranges between 5% and 20%.

The bottom line is that there’s plenty of value to be found in reader retention. Publishers just need the right approach and the right resources to engage with existing readers to convert them into brand loyal subscribers.

Personalization fosters loyalty and retention

Communicating with your existing readers using personalized content experiences is the best way to earn reader loyalty. What and how you communicate with your readers makes all the difference between retaining their business and losing their interest.

For example, if you were to publish generic content week after week, it’s hard for readers to see the value in the experience. Instead, the audience sentiment will be that you’re just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. The content loses all of your brand’s personality that first resonated with readers, increasing the likelihood that they churn and never return to your site.

On the other hand, personalized content that appeals to specific reader interests is far more engaging to your audience. By demonstrating that your creative team understands their readers, and chooses to publish content that adds greater value to their experience with your website, you have a winning formula to improve retention rates and, hopefully, subscription rates.

Collect first-party data to gain those audience insights

One of the best ways to boost audience engagement and increase the value that readers experience from your publication is to encourage their engagement with your community. Encourage your authors to add the first comment to freshly produced content in an effort to kickstart a conversation with your readers. Encourage your audience to post their thoughts and use a commenting moderation tool to analyze the sentiment shared by your readers.

As more comments are submitted, you automatically build a wealth of first-party data that you can leverage to gain more insight into your reader tastes and preferences. You can pick up on things like what themes within the content people react towards, and you can measure the preference for one type of author over another.

Once you collect enough first-party data to really understand your audience, you can revamp your content strategy into a data-driven initiative. Focus the subject matter of your content around the themes, topics, and interests that your data informs you is what matters most to your readers. Show your avid community that you listen to their responses by producing more of the content they’ve indicated is what they want. This is how you build a loyal following that is likely to provide customer lifetime value for years to come.

Incentivize readers to act with special recognitions

To encourage further debate around your content, you can assign badges to comments that generate responses from other readers. Show your most valuable readers and/or subscribers that you recognize their contributions to the discussion, proving to them that they’re considered VIPs among your reading audience. Earn that reader loyalty and reap the fruits of those labors!

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