From anonymous to first-party: How to turn visitors into registered users and subscribers

It’s an age-old problem for publishers. How do you get casual readers to become loyal subscribers? Let’s first consider how publications strayed from reader engagement to understand the answer to this question. Fastener interviewed Mark Zohar at Viafoura to learn more about the history of audience engagement in digital publishing.

The Outsourcing Stop-gap

Before the internet, the number of publications remained constrained by labor and paper costs, forcing subscriptions on a local level and limiting competition. Yahoo opened the web in 1995, and in 2004, Web 2.0, followed by smartphones in 2007, delivered instant gratification, community and interactivity online. Shortly thereafter, web publications began to outsource their customer service, feedback and commenting abilities, allowing third parties to determine their fate, popularity and ultimately their content through clicks, likes, reviews, tweets and TikToks.

Publishers began validating vanity interactions rather than synergy with their readers. At the time, this was logical. Bots, spam and guerilla postings by malcontents required constant monitoring. Customer Management Systems (CMS) were expensive and required teams of marketing and tech experts to administer. Social media was free (sort of — publishers paid by relinquishing control, privacy and data) and increasingly the preferred method of communication between the business world and its customers. The time and cost of managing engagement, “who needs it!” proffered conventional wisdom.

Opportunity Cost

The cost of relying on third parties — the loss of business and customer intelligence, control and interaction — became apparent as time passed. Third parties, including social media, understood more about an organization’s customers than they did. After all, these outside entities communicated with their customers, collected data, directed them, entertained, and serviced them. These entities engaged and profited from the publisher’s work.

Consider the following facts:

  • Engaged visitors stay longer, go deeper and generate 4x more advertising opportunities.
  • They are 2x more likely to click on an ad.
  • Viafoura’s engaged users are 51x more likely to register.
  • And registered visitors are 45x more likely to subscribe than casual visitors to your digital properties.

Publishers that engage their readers monetize their properties. Engaging digitally means communication, and communication begins with taking power back to parlay and maintaining control of the wealth of first-party data each exchange produces.

Because publishers outsourced engagement, the vast majority of their visitors remained anonymous, with only a minute percentage registering or subscribing. Publishers continued living in the eighties but are trying to do business in the twenty-twenties, relying on third-party research to understand their readers.

How anonymous users become subscribers

Leading readers through the subscriber journey is relatively painless with the right tools. The Viafoura Digital Experience Platform (DXP) provides the interactivity and immediacy of social media while maintaining control on the publisher’s property of the data, opportunities and experience.

Viafoura’s DXP anonymous-to-subscriber strategy involves four levels: Engagement Suite, Personalization, Moderation, and Data.

Engagement suite

Creating loyal subscribers from anonymous readers begins with on-site engagement on publishers’ owned and operated digital properties. Readers who feel listened to return more often and dive deeper into your publication. Viafoura deploys various solutions to make readers feel at home, including social sharing, chat, Q&As and conversations. And then there is the ultimate VIP ticket, the live blogging platform coupled with Viafoura’s Conversations. Together or solo, each creates an immersive experience between a publication and its reader community, resulting in an average 600 percent lift in subscriptions.


Nobody wants to be an unknown number when engaging with a publication. Therefore, personalization is the next step in making anonymous readers cherished subscribers. Personalization includes capturing and using more than a person’s name. It means having options that craft an experience unique to each reader, including alerts, notifications, follow options, recommendations, and curated feeds. Readers feel like family when content is personalized to their needs, likes and wants. It is a mesmerizing experience that keeps them coming back. Viafoura’s DPX puts personalization under the publisher’s control.


Without comment moderation, the trolls take over, and suddenly a pleasant interaction becomes a toxic mix of vitriol, hurting the publication and the user experience. On average, a publisher will lose 80 percent of its anonymous readers due to a hostile environment. However, well-moderated engagement increases registrations and subscriptions by an average of 400 percent within six months. Viafoura’s DXP uses multiple strategies to streamline moderation and reduce the number of people needed to keep it going by customizing parameters to each publication’s policies across all properties and social media. Artificial intelligence combined with human expertise and easy-to-read dashboards take on the trolls and temper the tantrums to ensure engagement on its client’s publications remains civil, pleasurable and informative.


Data is worth more than gold in the digital world. It determines content, direction, strategy, partners, advertising, marketing, corporate expenditures, budgets, pricing, new products and investments—data is behind every informed decision. Yet many publishers give away their primary data by outsourcing engagement. Controlling all aspects of the publishing ecosystem delivers unprecedented intelligence that allows a publication to improve its content, better service its readers and strategically plan for the future. Viafoura’s DXP delivers far more than the 83 average metrics. Its digital engagement platform provides over 200 data points, vital information that elevates customer experience, value, and loyalty, which translates to subscribers.


Viafoura’s unique approach boosts on-site engagement, increasing user registrations and subscriptions. Additionally, it produces internet gold, the ultra-valuable first-party data that creates unique personas and insights exclusive to the publication. Detailed information permits publishers to fine-tune their content, increasing its value to their readers while simultaneously lifting advertising revenues and engagement. Happy readers become loyal readers. Loyal readers become subscribers—leading us back to the original question. How do digital publishers turn visitors into registered users and subscribers while improving their publications? They invest in engagement tools, and Viafoura’s DXP is the leader.

Best Practices From A Data-Driven Audience Engagement Manager

Audience engagement managers have become a core component of publishing teams in newsrooms across the country. An audience engagement manager’s primary purpose is to manage how the audience evolves from casual readers to engaged members of the community.

To do that, they need the right audience engagement solution to moderate how people flow through the customer journey across your website. You want a platform that will encourage conversations to occur about your content so that people form an attachment to your brand and your community.

Brand attachment and affinity breeds customer loyalty. As an audience engagement manager, customer loyalty is one of the most important KPIs to measure the effectiveness of your strategy. Using the right audience engagement platform, you can leverage detailed audience profiles built upon first-party data insights to create the types of personalised content experiences that will help build that customer loyalty.

Know your target conversion rates

The aim of most publications is to increase the number of subscribers who willfully choose to consume and interact with your content. These companies use metrics like paywall stop rates to measure how many unique visitors are choosing to go beyond the paywall and become subscribers. A metre stop rate of 5 to 7 percent should be the target to measure effectiveness; if you’re performing above that threshold, you have a very active and engaged audience.

As the audience engagement manager, you also want to segment the types of people who are hitting your paywalls into different tiers of users. Start by creating segments for the one-time and passive visitors, which are people who interact with one to five pieces of content over the course of a month’s timeline.

Then there are the active users who regularly consume your content, perhaps on a daily basis. According to The Shorenstein Centre on Media, Politics and Public Policy, a subsidiary of the Harvard Kennedy School research centre, approximately 9 percent of your users can be classified as active or regular readers of your content.

With those benchmarks in hand, an audience engagement manager can formulate strategies for how to meet or exceed those targets.

Identify the needs and interests of key demographics

As an audience engagement manager, you need to create content and communication strategies that speak the same language of your target audience. To do that, you need to develop deeper insights into what topics get their attention, how they’re likely to interact with different pieces of content and, perhaps most importantly, what is least likely to earn their attention and engagement.

One of the best ways to monitor that engagement is to use the right on-site metrics. As an audience engagement manager, you can use first-party data like page views, on-site engagement actions, time spent on pages, overall retention rates, and more insights to build rich audience profiles.

Those profiles will tell you more about what your readers are most interested in when interacting with content on your website. Using those insights, you can develop personal engagement tactics to grow the size of your audience base and guide more people to become those highly valued active consumers of your content.

What to look for in an audience engagement platform

So what is the type of solution best suited to help you create effective audience engagement strategies that help drive higher subscriptions and fuel growth for the business? Above all else, you need to know that the platform you integrate into your site can help you achieve your goals for the business.

Remember that sustainable audience growth is based on engagement and the valuable exchange of moments you have with your community. A beneficial audience engagement platform should help you acquire predictive analytics and data-driven insights to make logical decisions with your content, which will further enhance the value of your website experience.

Focus on how to drive up customer loyalty

For example, a strong audience engagement platform will improve engagement across your website. It can potentially increase conversion rates up to 25 times above existing site conversion rates.

Higher engagement and conversion rates is an excellent indicator of user lifetime value, which is indicative of strong customer loyalty among your users. Graham Media Inc. was one media company that sought to achieve this exact objective and, thanks to their partnership with Viafoura, they were able to boost user lifetime value by over 150 percent.

Final takeaways

Above all else, any audience engagement solution you implement should be provided by experts that can function as partners to your business rather than simple vendors. Your partner should be proactive by providing you with strategic recommendations on how best to gain those valuable insights from the platform. Once you have that first-party data on hand, you can focus on how to implement the takeaways and optimise your content to help drive direct impact on your business.

By leaning on insights gleaned from these platforms, audience engagement managers can spend more time on the big picture. You can focus more time coaching the rest of your publication team on how best to use these insights and improve engagement with audiences across all digital channels.

Meet The Newest Way to Re-Engage Your Audience

Wouldn’t it be great if you could drive more user engagement on your digital properties without adding to your already endless workload? Viafoura’s new recirculation feature — a tool that highlights trending conversations around content — can do exactly that.  

The feature analyzes engagement velocity and content recency in order to recommend buzzing, active conversations to your digital community. As a result, audience members who actively engage with your community will easily find more content that interests them. 

For those of you who have yet to implement conversation tools on your digital properties, our data shows that that they can boost total time spent on site by 10%. 

Active comment readers spend the most time engaging with your digital properties. In fact, according to the Financial Times’ community manager, these users offer six times the engagement compared to non-comment readers. This means that they are extremely valuable members of your community. The recirculation widget exists to keep these users interacting with your content for even longer, and has proven to generate up to seven times more pageviews from comment readers. 

Surprised? We’re not. Humans naturally want to socialize with others, whether that be offline or online. Conversation tools that are backed by effective moderation offer your audience members the opportunity to be social and build meaningful connections to your brand. Our new tool lets consumers who value discussions related to your content know where active conversations are taking place. Especially around topics that resonate the most with them.

And that translates into more on-site engagement for you.

A major North American newspaper recently implemented the recirculation widget on its digital properties. After just two weeks after activating the tool, the company saw significant growth. Not only did it experience a 44% increase in comments, it also saw a 34% increase in average session length and a 38% increase in total on-site engagement

“This feature is a new way for publishers to start increasing the participation of their active community members, which in turn boosts the time spent on their sites,” Dan Seaman, product director of engagement tools at Viafoura. 

The recirculation feature can also live anywhere on your site. Consider adding it below our Conversations tool, within a notifications bar or on the side rail of your homepage. Curious about what the tool looks like? Take a peek at it in action below:

Want to learn more about the tool? Ask us your questions or book a live demo of our recirculation here

RELATED: Viafoura Launches a Rapid Moderation Console for Media Organizations

Gaining your competitive edge for the 2020’s

Right now, media companies everywhere are racing to stay on top of the ever-evolving trends and technologies in the industry. But with the future constantly barrelling towards us, the most effective path to revenue isn’t always straightforward. As a result, many brands aren’t properly equipped to deal with digital challenges on the road ahead.

No one really knows for sure what the best practices in the media industry will look like in five, 10 or 15 years. What we do know, however, is that you are very capable of putting your best foot forward in setting yourself up for ongoing success.

So would you believe us if we told you that a few simple steps could protect your business?

Well, you’d better buckle up — we’re about to walk you through everything you need to do to futureproof your business. Prepare to gain an edge over your competitors.

1. Invest in New Sources of Revenue

For most media organizations, social media is no longer a reliable source of revenue. While social media proved to be a great source of revenue and digital traffic several years ago, constantly changing algorithms and brand-daming toxicity has since diminished the relationship between media and social platforms.

The best lesson we can take away from the history between media and big tech companies is that media organizations need to stop relying on third-parties to generate revenue from consumers. Instead, it’s important to continuously be testing and analyzing direct ways to earn revenue. Long-term stability will require a direct relationship with your audience, and the more ways you

“There is going to be a new crop of players… that accelerate because they understand how to connect content, commerce, and conversation,” the CEO of Barstool Sports tells the Digital Content Next association. “Companies that do that are going to be in a good spot.”

Sustainable revenue models are now shifting away from ad revenue and towards consumer revenue models, where brands have complete access to their digital community and profits. Gain a competitive edge and set your brand up for success by monetising your audience directly.

2. Optimize Your Platform for Engagement

Whether you’re a news publisher or operate a video-streaming platform, building loyalty among your audience members translates into long-term success. That said, social engagement is a powerful building block of trust and loyalty in a digital community.

So instead of trying (and failing) to grow loyal followers via social media, incorporate engagement tools right into the fabric of your brand’s platform. Intertwine tools like live conversations, real-time blogging, ratings and reviews as well as live chats with your content to get people seriously interested in what you offer.

Add additional layers of interaction to your platform by engaging with your audience directly, through digital Q&As, personalized emails and recommended content lists. By having popular journalists or TV personalities chat with your audience, you can generate excitement in your community and prove that your content is worth the subscription fee.

At the end of the day, you don’t want to be a stranger to your audience. Interacting with them shows that they mean more to you than money. And that, folks, is how to generate long-term trust, no matter what kind of curveball the future may throw at you.

3. Set Up Preventative Moderation Measures

Nevermind the future, the present is already volatile.

There are trolls, bots, spammers and misinformation wreaking havoc throughout the internet. So if you can’t protect your brand in the face of existing threats, how can you possibly be prepared to deal with these growing issues in the future?

In both the present and future, moderation across your user-generated content is a must for any brand hoping to draw in active subscribers and retain them.

For a moment, picture sports fans debating over a penalty during a live stream of a game. A real-time chat, where individuals exchange passionate thoughts, is a perfect opportunity for building community engagement around this event. However, a troll can easily ruin the experience by taunting, mocking and harassing your loyal users. This is why it’s essential to put some kind of moderation in place to protect your community.

Explore the different types of moderation here.

4. Implement the Perfect Conversion Strategy

According to a new report by What’s New In Publishing, consumer subscription fatigue is becoming a reality for many publishers and streaming platforms alike. Creating an effective conversion strategy matters now more than ever with so much competition fighting over consumer dollars.

So once you have your paywall and engagement tools in place, it’s time for you to connect all of the moving pieces together. Plant those seeds of engagement to grow your audience. Then ensure your engagement and paywall solutions are working together so that your active, subscription-ready users can be sent a paywall message.

Finding the right strategy for your business may take a bit of trial and error. But testing out different ways to engage, target and monetize your audience members is a surefire way to boost revenue in the long run.

5. Put Your Audience First

In the digital age, your audience is everything. Which is why you should pull every possible piece of information you can about your audience members from your first-party data, and use those insights to your advantage.

Take the time to identify who your most loyal audience members are, and how to best cater to them. For instance, OTT platforms may want to consider personalizing the content-streaming experience, with recommended or related videos.

Your content strategy should be geared towards what subscribers find important and relatable. So: figure out who you’re serving, what content and experience they value, and invest heavily in that.

Condé Nast has also developed a short exercise for publishers that can help your team shift its editorial strategy towards a more audience-oriented approach.

“Anything that distracts a publisher from focusing on their most loyal audiences, is a losing strategy,” reads a report by the Tow Center of Digital Journalism.

Wise words for media organizations everywhere.

Newsrooms: The One Thing That Will Make or Break Subscriber Conversion Metrics

News media organizations are in a constant state of transformation and reinvention. Whether they drive revenue through ads, memberships, metered access, hard paywalls and everything in between, the most successful news brands all have one thing in common. They recognize that one of the most effective, yet overlooked keys to deepening reader time on site and content consumption — the main indicator of a consumer’s readiness to subscribe — lies in activating reader passions through on-site social interactions.

A recent white paper issued by the Shorenstein Center and Lenfest Institute looked at over 500 U.S. newspaper brands from 2011 to 2018. In the white paper, it was shown that over 57% of newspaper brands have already tightened up their paywalls to offer each reader five free articles or less per month.

Unsustainable business model

Despite this, only news brands above the 80th percentile in this study reported having a “sustainable” digital business. Those reporting a “thriving” business are in even rarer circles, at or above the 90th percentile. In this category, news publishers have their paywalls typically “stopping” more than 6% of their monthly unique visitors to ask them to start paying. 

So what exactly does this mean for the majority of newspaper brands that aren’t in the top-performing ten percent? In simple terms, it indicates that not enough of the online readership is sufficiently engaged by number of articles read in a month to trigger a paywall offer and from there it’s pretty simple math: Fewer readers get stopped, leading to fewer readers subscribing. That contributes to lower than expected subscriber conversion metrics.

How to maximize the stop zone?

So the big question then becomes: “How can we drive more readers into the “stop zone?” Most newsrooms have already been feeling the squeeze of increased demands and declining budgets so the answer to this existential question will also need to keep this challenge in mind.

All of the typical go-to strategies a newsroom can employ, such as hiring more journalists; creating more or longer-form content; augmenting content with related media/infographics or repackaging content in new ways, are all fairly costly to undertake, in both dollars and invested time.

Engage your readers instead

Fortunately, this challenge can be solved by updating other parts of the modern news reader’s experience, which requires little to no additional oversight from the newsroom.

We analyzed the behaviors of over 300 million users who interact with Viafoura tools on more than 600 news platforms worldwide. By looking into this subscription conversion data, we found that when readers are truly ready to start paying for news, they spend inordinate amounts of time reading comments and interacting with other readers. These engaged readers typically spend more time on site and consume more content than any other cohort, and find themselves in the “stop zone” sooner than passive readers.

Given the unprecedented success that major social networks have at capturing audiences and driving revenue, this insight should come as no surprise. It also provides the means for news readers to interact with others who share and sometimes oppose their views in a civil manner. This civil, social experience lets readers feel connected to a broader community of diverse voices and ideas. 

Sticky value exchange

A full-featured community engagement suite has the power to create a “sticky” value exchange among readers and news brands, driving up time spent and loyalty among those readers most ready to pay for access to news.

Other key observations from our internal data include:

  • Our community engagement suite increases engaged time on site by 32% among those who are most likely to subscribe.
  • News readers who are socially engaged on site drive 25x more pageviews and attention time than those who just read content.

Social interaction taps into a deep-rooted biological human need. The world’s top-performing news brands are social in nature too, leveraging reader engagement tools like: live group chats around the hottest topics, live commenting that automatically kills toxic posts, and ask-an-expert-style experiences to engage their most passionate fans and grow their audiences into loyal communities

For more best practices on creating an effective engagement and to improve subscription conversion strategy, access our free webinar.

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You Got a Registered User, Now What?

Conjure up an effective plan to keep your registered users interested and active in your community.

If you’re reading this, odds are yet another user registered to access your on-site engagement tools and content. While that’s wonderful news, don’t celebrate just yet. 

With third-party cookies crumbling due to data privacy regulations and browser limitations, the valuable data you get from a registered user is climbing. But here’s the catch: you need users to do more than just register for your services. You need them to stay active and profitable on your platform. 

Our data scientists  have found that registered users — who are engaged regularly on platforms through social experiences — generate five times the return visits per week compared to non-registered users. 

So what’s the holdup? Conjure up an effective plan to keep your registered users interested and active in your community. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve crafted a list of the necessary next steps below. 

1. Educate Them

While your registered users may have access to a premium experience, they may not be aware of all the bells and whistles held within your platform. For this reason, it’s important to go out of your way to teach them about all the great features and services that can enhance their experiences, even after registering. 

As part of the Globe and Mail’s user onboarding process, education is a critical piece of the revenue-generating puzzle. More specifically, their five-step onboarding plan includes educating the end user on all features and services available. 

Want to increase awareness around your own platform’s content? Consider using on-site engagement tools to push notifications about new content to your users. Enable email or desktop notifications to encourage return visits, allowing your users to stay up to date with your latest and greatest pieces. 

If knowledge is power, the ability to control your users’ knowledge is a superpower.

2. Continue to Engage Them

Just because someone registers for your on-site engagement tools and content doesn’t mean that they’re loyal to your brand. In order to earn their loyalty, you need to continuously engage them throughout their entire lifetime as a registrant, and even afterwards. 

Use tools like live conversations, community chats, real-time blogging and ratings and reviews to create a socially immersive experience for your registered users. These social opportunities will spark loyal habits in your community, where they return to your site regularly. Everybody wins. 

“Based on a number of academic and business studies, we know that frequency of visits — one measure of loyalty — is correlated with a propensity to buy or renew a subscription, and it drives your advertising business,” says International News Media Associations researcher, Grzegorz Piechota.

So put the proper engagement tools in place to entice users to return to your platform frequently.

3. Track Them

84% of consumers want to be treated like actual people during their online experiences, not just another number on a dashboard. In other words, users want brands to cater to their individual needs. 

But how can you know how to cater to each user if you don’t have a good understanding of their unique behaviors? 

Here’s a quick tip: study their patterns as they move across your site so you can personalize their experience

Dig in to your on-site engagement tool metrics to understand what topics and content your registered users are gravitating towards. Based on your findings, you can customize their experience by serving up highly relevant content.

“It’s clear that the way to win customers is through cohesive and authentic interactions,” states an article on Ad Age. “That means the entire experience has to be fueled by data.”

4. Encourage Paid Subscriptions

For many organizations, a registered user doesn’t necessarily translate to a paid subscriber. You may have users who have registered just to use your on-site engagement tools. Although that may not be your endgame, it is a step in the right direction: towards a paid subscription.

For those of you who are aiming to boost paid subscriptions within your platform, highlight exactly why a paid subscription is valuable. Take it a step further by enhancing your conversion strategy. This involves targeting highly engaged users with personalized subscription offers.

As you track the behavior of your registered users, ensure that your engagement tool vendor is keeping an eye out for drops in engagement. You vendor should be able to notify your paywall provider of disengaged registrants, who can then send them special offers to remain engaged and to subscribe. 

Now go ahead and transform your ordinary registered user into a loyal, profitable community member. The sustainable community you’ve always dreamed of is but a few steps away. 


RELATED: You’ve Lost a Subscriber, Now What?

You’ve Lost a Subscriber, Now What?

Before you continue on the path of subscriber decline, there are some steps you can take to flip the fate of your brand around.

If you’re down one, ten or a couple hundred subscribers, you’re probably facing some pressure to improve conversion rates and reduce churn. Not sure how to help your brand do more than just barely cling onto its survival and climb the ladder of success? Well, you’ve come to the right place. 

We know that losing a subscriber is frustrating — and we also know that your situation isn’t hopeless. It may actually be a blessing in disguise, because you can use your learnings to prevent more churn from taking place. This is your chance to make your platform’s subscription and retention rates better than ever.

A researcher from International News Media Association (INMA), Grzegorz Piechota, explains how “the subscriber journey doesn’t end with the purchase.” 

After subscribing for content, users embark on an entirely new journey.

Unfortunately, Piechota adds that “publishers don’t really seem to be very much focused on monitoring [the] health of the relationship after somebody subscribed.”

If media organizations don’t understand what causes a user to unsubscribe, how can they know how to prevent more churn in the future?

Before you continue on the path of subscriber decline, there are some steps you can take to flip the fate of your brand around. To help, we’ve broken down the process of understanding why your subscriber churned, and how to prevent it from happening again. 

1. Determine How Engaged Subscribers Were Before Unsubscribing

Instead of predicting reader engagement just with the number of clicks on your articles, you need to understand your reader habits on a more granular level. 

As stated by the Local Media Association, “regular reading habit is the single biggest predictor of subscriber retention.”

Dig into your data to determine if, based on their behavior, your lost subscribers were actively engaging with your platform.

Have they recently become passive consumers, logging in only once in a blue moon to read content? Or did they flag any toxic comments before unsubscribing? 

Anything you can learn about the time period before they churned will shed light into why they unsubscribed.

2. Assess Lost Subscribers Through Your Front-End Tools

By now, you may be well informed on the value socially immersive engagement tools can add to a platform. If you do have engagement tools on your website, you have access to critical, first-party data related to your subscribers. Not to mention info on those who have churned. 

Gather as much intel as possible on your churned subscribers by looking to how much they were interacting with your tools. You may be able to learn something important. For instance, are subscribers churning once engagement with your community-building tools drops? If so, your readers may be failing to form meaningful bonds to your platform due to a lack of moderation or real-time commenting.

Look to engagement-specific metrics for deeper insights, like the time spent in comments, engagement velocity and civility trends.

It’s also worth investigating the workflow between your engagement tool and paywall providers. If they’re properly talking to one another, your paywall provider should be alerted when a subscriber’s engagement level tapers off. This would allow you to predict and prevent churn before it ever happens.

3. Send Personalized Offers That Encourage Re-Subscribing

You may have lost a subscriber, but they may not be lost forever. When a user unsubscribes from your services, you have the opportunity to wow them with offers. 

Consider sending them content suggestions that are highly in line with their interests, which can be identified from your first-party data. This may convince them that your content is valuable enough to resubscribe. 

Alternatively, you may want to send them a special discount on the subscription cost. 

If you’re sending these offers via email, it’s worth using an actual person’s email address instead of a generic sales or marketing one. 

One publishing executive tells Digiday that “since more often publishers are landing in the promotions folder, an email coming from a different email address… is really effective in reengaging people.” 

4. Apply Your Insights to Cohorts of Users With Similar Behaviors

While a single unsubscription isn’t the end of the world, disengaged behavior patterns throughout your audience highlight inefficiencies on your platform. 

It’s important for media organizations to use their data to identify these inefficiencies and improve them by building loyal habits for audience members. Every detail you can gather on why a user unsubscribed will help you identify and stop others who may follow suit in the future. 

For instance, some individuals who unsubscribe may log into your platform less and less frequently. Keep an eye on user log-in frequency to make sure that your audience members are visiting and engaging with your content regularly. If they aren’t, it may be time to send them a personalized offer. 

The Globe and Mail, for instance, has developed a highly sophisticated five-step process that aims to keep subscribers engaged with its content based on behavioral data. If a user doesn’t log into the platform for a 30-day period, they’re sent a personalized email with relevant content. 

Take a look at your user data and ask yourself this: are your users unsubscribing because of a high subscription cost, irrelevant content or are they disengaging from the community socially? The answer will help you make improvements to your platform. 

At the end of the day, the value of data from a lost subscriber outweighs the value of the subscriber itself. This is because the insights you gain from unsubscribers can be used to greatly enhance your retention strategy.

RELATED: You Got New Engagement Tools, Now What? 

Week of Oct. 19th-25th: Your Media News Update

The last week has seen a flurry of activity around topics related to automated content moderation and product design as well as ways to develop communities and keep them engaged. The many news stories and reports that have been discussed are a treasure trove of best practices we can learn from, including:

  • Twitch’s decision to amp up its live-streaming moderation and establish a “three strikes” rule before suspending a streamer’s channel
  • Microsoft’s testing of new content filters for its Xbox Live messaging system as a way to reduce the amount of toxicity on its platform
  • The Telegraph’s ability to achieve a 49% growth in subscriptions by optimizing its homepage

To continue learning and staying up-to-date with the latest and greatest industry news from the past week, read on.

Content Filtering and Moderation Reaches a New Level (for Some)

Content filtering and moderating live-streamed content have significantly evolved over the years. Twitch, one of the most popular video live-streaming services in the world, is leading the charge by providing a space for online communities to develop in a positive way. CEO Emmett Shear has been a big proponent of stream moderation as a way to empower streamers in creating the type of community they want. 

Twitch isn’t an “anything goes” type of platform. It’s very explicitly not a free speech platform, which differs from Twitch’s competitors. Shear says, “We’re a community. And communities have standards for how you have to behave inside that community. And so we think that it’s not anything goes.” 

When it comes to the digital world, community guidelines need to be set and enforced to keep platforms safe and productive.

More and more companies are also taking steps to adopt automated content moderation systems as a way to create safer online communities for the masses. For example, Microsoft is now testing content filters for its Xbox Live messaging system to reduce toxicity on its platform.

Microsoft has managed moderation on Xbox Live for almost 20 years, including the ability to report messages, usernames, and photos. Their new content filters empower players to have control over what kinds of messages are instantly hidden. The company also aims to protect live audio calls with real-time bleeps, similar to broadcast TV. Microsoft is now trying to be more open and transparent about how it moderates Xbox Live and the choices it makes to enforce these filters across the community.  

Facebook, on the other hand, still lacks in its commitment to content moderation based on its current automated filtering tools. The company has now publicly announced its shortcomings in an attempt to challenge a European Court of Justice ruling. 

When the top EU court decided earlier in the month that Facebook must use automated content moderation to detect “defamatory content,” the company responded by saying its tech was simply not good enough. Facebook described their own moderation tools as a “blunt instrument,” unable to properly understand the context, and therefore, make correct decisions.

Publishers Tap Into Creating Better Product Designs to Increase Subscriptions

Many publishers are trying to move away from relying on advertising income as the main source of revenue. To be financially sustainable in the long-run, more companies like The Telegraph are continuing to think about a subscriber-based revenue model. Consequently, there is a new thought emerging about how products reflect and align with this type of model. 

All of The Telegraph’s products, for example, now revolve around subscribers. Mathias Douchet, Director of Product at The Telegraph, says that “we had to move away from an ad strategy to a more user-engagement, user-centric strategy with our own products.”  

To do this, The Telegraph rebuilt its website’s homepage. Its old homepage offered hundreds of stories but very little in the way of editorial curation. It was also difficult to group content around a theme and make content stand out.

Since the Telegraph’s homepage is a key product that many subscribers turn to on a daily basis, it was revamped to offer top-notch user experience and ongoing engagement. 

The homepage redesign has resulted in very positive outcomes for the publisher. All consumption and engagement KPIs are up, subscriptions have increased by 49% and advertising revenue has increased but with fewer ads.

The Guardian has also released a daily app for paying subscribers as part of its quest to reach two million financial supporters by 2022. The appeal of the new app is that it won’t carry ads and will offer news in a streamlined way.

The new app lets users scroll horizontally through different news sections in depth. It also lets users read the previous week’s worth of papers. 

Publisher app users are typically highly valuable because they consume more content more regularly and for longer periods of time. For these reasons, publishers are beefing up their apps for subscribers. This includes The Economist, which last year launched an app to help drive retention. The app design takes its cue from the digital user experience of music streaming apps like Spotify. Similar to publishers, music streaming apps also face the challenge of displaying massive amounts of content grouped by genre in an intuitive way.

Successful businesses are no longer making products and decisions that revolve completely around advertising; they revolve around subscribers

Enhancing Your Paywall: Why You Need a Conversion Strategy

In order to run a profitable media company, publishers know that audience engagement must be monetized. But relying on social media for advertising just isn’t cutting it anymore.

With social media’s unpredictable algorithm changes blocking your content from being seen and its loss of audience trust, it’s time to generate money from your community on your own platforms. And that’s where paywalls come in.

The Value of a Paywall

Nowadays, paywalls are becoming an important ingredient in a news publisher’s recipe for success. Not only do they attach value to your content, but they are also able to manage your subscribers and collect payments on your behalf.

When clients invest in industry publication subscriptions, it serves as a tangible reminder that the publications… offer quantifiable value,” reads a Forbes article. “It’s content that matters to people — to the point that people are willing to pay for it. This serves as a reminder to your client that your services are worth the price.”

While some may argue that paywalls threaten to repel readers who aren’t willing to pay for your content, it’s a risk that many publishers find worth taking. In fact, readers who are willing to subscribe offer your business significantly more value than those who aren’t.

This past year, HuffPost chose to stop focusing on uninterested readers and, instead, assessed and grew its loyal reader base since 60% of their page views came from just 6% of visitors.

If you have great content and dedicated readers, the decision to take on a paywall may be an obvious one.

However, the power of your paywall can be greatly enhanced by supporting it with a winning conversion strategy.

Amplify the Effects of your Paywall

Readers will pay for quality content that they can relate to. Publications like The New York Times and The Times have shown us this.

But a truly powerful subscription management system relies on support from a community growth and engagement system.

According to the Shorenstein Center and Lenfest Institute, only nine percent of a publisher’s readers view over five articles per month. Their white paper states that “news organizations with larger-than-average “regular readership” – engaging that critical nine percent of audiences – tended to prioritize audience engagement efforts.”

And what better way to grow that number of regular readers than by engaging more of your audience? Applying community engagement technology to your platform will boost a user’s return frequency, session depth and total attention time, helping to drive more subscriptions.

Which is why it’s important to take the time to find a partner who not only boosts user engagement, but who will also work with your paywall provider to optimize your platform for subscriptions. 

Learn how to create real conversations and drive audience engagement to your organization’s publications with this Webinar: How CBC Creates Real Conversations Below the Fold

The Ultimate Conversion Strategy

A truly great conversion strategy marries your paywall and engagement tools together.

In this sense, a community engagement partner can track onsite audience behavior, grow your regular readers and alert your paywall when each user is interested enough to subscribe. Engage your audience. Understand them. And then use that knowledge to build a loyal, paying community.

“Using a mix of editorial and algorithm-based selections, [The Toronto Star] hard locks five to seven articles per day, typically more in-depth pieces driving strong traffic and engagement, to push more visitors toward the paywall and, eventually, the subscription process,” states a recent report by the Local Media Association.

Your engagement and paywall service providers should be able to help you develop and deploy a targeted conversion strategy, specific to the behavior of your readers. More specifically, as users become engaged with your content, your community engagement tools should be able to feed your subscription-ready users right to your paywall. Which means more subscription revenue for you.

Your Churn-Reducing Solution

Another great reason to own a conversion strategy between your engagement and subscription management systems is that you can boost onsite subscriptions and reduce churn, all at the same time. As your engagement tools build your community and track its behavior, your software provider can signal your paywall when a community member becomes disengaged with your brand, and is likely to churn.

Businesses can then send these users special incentives or content to keep them from unsubscribing.

Say goodbye to inefficiency and hello to an abundance of subscription revenue.

Interested in learning more about boosting revenue through subscription management and user engagement? Attend our workshop at ONA19 for a chance to win $500.

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