At the root of every digital publication is an inherent goal to educate, interest, and engage with the intended audience. By providing relevant and informative content to the end users, publishers create thoughtful and fulfilling relationships with their readers. A consistent stream of high quality content motivates readers to return to the site and continue to consume the content.
The cycle repeats itself until the reader develops an affinity for the publishing brand. Visiting the website for the latest updates on the news of the day becomes part of a daily habit. As that habit becomes a growing need, those same readers become brand loyal users. These are the people with the highest potential to become paying subscribers for your top quality content.
All of that is well and good for building a loyal audience of passionate and engaged readers. But how do you monetize those efforts, and how can you introduce new revenue streams to scale growth higher and faster while maintaining publication standards and providing quality journalism? That’s what we’re going to discuss here.
Challenges for revenue-driven publication leaders
Increasing revenue requires a proactive push for subscriptions and a delivery of highly targeted ad inserts as part of an affiliate marketing program. The good news is that, according to Pew Research Center, 86% of American citizens get their news through a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
More importantly, over half of respondents said they prefer consuming content through these devices as opposed to TV, radio, or podcasts. This means there does remain a sizable audience to monetize from through revenue diversification strategies.
The bad news is that, as polarization deepens throughout the population, the amount of trust in journalism has waned. This is a particularly growing problem for US publishers.
According to a study published by Statista, United States citizens rank lowest on a list of 40 countries whose residents say they trust the media. Only 26% of surveyed Americans say they trust the news media. By contrast, 37% of neighboring Mexicans say they trust the media, while 42% of neighboring Canadians admit they trust their news sources.
All of these insights emphasize why there’s such a strong need for a high quality content strategy. Aligning content production to the tastes and interests of the intended audience is essential to boost onsite engagement. That’s what allows you to run affiliate marketing campaigns with select partners.
Examples of revenue diversification channels
As a business model, it’s always critical to live by the adage “never put all of your eggs in one basket.” The more you can diversify means of generating revenue, the less likely you are to falter if one of those channels stops performing at the level that your business needs. When it comes to revenue diversification strategies, knowing how to utilize each of the channels available to grow your brand is vital to scaling new growth.
So what are some of the channels available for your revenue diversification strategy? Here’s a quick breakdown of each and how best to use them to your advantage.
Subscription models: win them over with quality
This is probably the most straightforward revenue generating model for publications. By convincing more of your reading audience to pay for access to your top shelf content, you’re earning direct value out of each posted story across your publication.
Many readers actively want to add their own opinions to a published piece of content. If you gate access to the comments section and the community behind it, you incentivize those readers to become paying customers.
In exchange, they gain the means to participate in lively discussions with other engaged readers. It’s a two way relationship that benefits the reader and your publication. You just need to guide people to that decision by doubling down on high quality content that increases their propensity to respond.
E-commerce strategies: target the right offers to the right people
It goes without saying that data is essential for any digital experience to become a successful venture. However, the type of data makes all the difference between publications that have something to sell to their e-commerce affiliates and those that don’t.
First-party data has become the backbone of any e-commerce engagement strategy. It’s by using first-party data that targeted shopping experiences are provided to the audience. This type of data allows you to build highly informative audience profiles in which you can segment your readers by their interests and what types of content best capture their attention.
By curating these profiles, you can coordinate with your e-commerce affiliates to create relevant shopping experiences for the intended audiences. Align the offers to the reader’s passions, which you can determine based on the content they consume. This is how you improve the user experience and make some extra money through your affiliates.
Affiliate links: personalize ad inserts for maximum effectiveness
This is a very similar approach to your e-commerce strategy. Using first-party data and the profiles you create from it, your affiliates can customize the ad inserts they promote to specific types of readers on your site.
Customization and personalization are the best ways to generate views, clicks, and engagement from targeted advertising. Show your affiliates details about the end audience so that they can create highly curated messaging, images, videos, and other forms of content to connect with the audience. If done successfully, they should see a healthy return for their efforts.
Flexible commercial models: putting it together
Imagine if you could give your affiliate partners the ability to form a trusted partnership built around reliable, audience-driven, first-party data. How much more valuable would a relationship with your publication be to those affiliates as opposed to a standard commercial revenue vendor type relationship that other publishers will offer? There’s no question: you gain a significant competitive advantage by offering a commercial revenue partnership.
The first-party data you possess and the audience profiles you build allow affiliates to send out promotions that will earn engagement. People end up coming to your site and the site of your affiliates. It’s more scalable, more flexible, and more beneficial for everyone involved.
With an analytical approach to the data available to you, a definitive goal, and an audience-first content strategy, the right revenue growth tactics will become increasingly evident. Keep in mind that each of the above approaches, while uniquely effective, may not align with your brand and its interests – which is OK! Carefully curate strategies that are in alignment with your brand’s overarching POV and they will in turn effectively serve the long term goals of your organization and contribute to the growth of your audience and, subsequently, your revenue.