Four Things Companies Are Doing to Take Their Subscription Strategies to the Next Level

Earning reader revenue isn’t a simple task in the media industry. Even with a paywall in place, those precious subscriptions won’t start pouring in on their own. Not unless your company has a strong subscription strategy.

So what kinds of subscription-driving tactics can delight visitors and convince them to become dedicated community members?

We see subscribers weighing up personal benefits, such as distinctive content, convenience, and value, with perceived benefits for society,” state the authors of Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2020.

This means that companies must cater to the needs and interests of consumers while serving their entire communities to create loyal subscribers.

For those of you who are hoping to strengthen your existing subscription strategy, there are several tactics worth trying out. Let’s look at some of the effective subscription strategies that publishers have recently implemented for some inspiration.

Personalizing the Visitor Experience With Audience Data

Audience data is a powerful tool that media companies can use to enrich their subscription strategies, satisfying the needs and desires of consumers.  

ARA, a Spanish publisher in Barcelona, credits its 3,200 new subscribers largely to its use of first-party audience data. The media company closely assessed its community members to tailor their experiences to their behaviors and content interests.

“We want to know where our audiences are, how they consume, how they read our news and we started to produce more according to these audiences,” says Georgina Ferri Todera, the chief revenue and innovation officer at ARA. “But the first step was knowing more about our audiences.”

The Wall Street Journal has also recognized the need to start collecting audience data to personalize its subscribers’ experience. As a result, subscribers are more likely to have a positive digital experience and remain loyal to the brand.

Communicating Directly With Audiences

If you’re not sure what could make your company’s content and on-site experience more appealing to consumers, you can always turn to your audience for answers. 

TIME, for instance, asked consumers directly about what resources it could provide to help people during the early stages of the pandemic. 

“People told us what they want and we fulfilled it for them,” explains Maya Draisin, SVP of progress marketing at TIME. “And they responded with 1.5 million views.”

In general, your audience is your compass. By following their directions and fulfilling their needs, you can reinforce the value of your company’s content and subscription program.

Opting Out of Big Tech Platforms

For professionals in the digital world, the instinct to promote content across multiple social media and news aggregation channels is only natural. Many people expect to attract greater audiences and more subscribers by promoting content on third-party websites. 

However, this approach can actually be counterproductive to your subscription program. Not only do consumers lack trust in the content on big tech platforms, but your company also loses revenue as well as precious audience data to the host platform. 

The New York Times is one of the latest media companies to recognize the value of creating direct relationships with readers on its own properties. 

After opting out of Apple’s news aggregation platform, the Time’s COO, Meredith Kopit Levien, stated that the company can form a direct path for sending those readers back into our environments, where we control the presentation of our report, the relationships with our readers, and the nature of our business rules.”

Build a direct relationship with readers to, therefore, earn their trust and forge daily habits that lead to long-term subscription growth.

Working Audience Engagement Into the Subscription Plan

While there’s no single right way to use a paywall, some publishers see merit in engaging audiences before revealing a subscription message. 

This process helps consumers feel connected to media companies, and then when they’re active enough online, guides them to become loyal subscribers. 

Slate is one of many publishers that have implemented this strategy. 

“If you want people to join or subscribe, asking them to do it voluntarily is not quite enough,” explains Dan Check, CEO of Slate. 

You can encourage on-site audience engagement through interactive tools and exceptional journalism before and after visitors subscribe to your services.

Go beyond your paywall by strengthening your company’s connection to its audience. 

Whether you choose to replicate these strategies on your digital properties or not, your ability to increase your loyal subscribers all comes down to engaging and understanding consumers. Tie these core actions into your subscription strategy to create and retain a strong community of brand advocates.

Five Simple and Subtle Ways to Recommend Content to Your Audience

When it comes to the media industry, content recommendation goes far beyond newsletters. Companies are beginning to recognize that, when done strategically, recommending content to audiences can amplify consumer interest and enhance their overall experience with brands. 

But here’s the big question: what recommendation methods are most effective? 

Last year, Gartner, an international research firm, revealed that 78% of consumers crave custom experiences. The report goes on to explain that while consumers want an effortless and relevant experience, they don’t want their personal information to be abused. 

This means that it’s important to recommend content from your platform in a subtle and data-secure way. Otherwise, you risk appearing self-serving or annoying to your audience. Just think of how much trust Facebook lost thanks to its history of abusing user data.

Send the right content to consumers without overstepping boundaries by relying on a mix of personalized and automated tools and techniques. We’ve rounded up some simple ways to get started, which will keep consumers on your digital properties for longer — without sacrificing any part of their experience.

Push Notifications

If you’re on the hunt for a way to boost time spent on your digital property, push notifications may be the solution your organization needs. You can allow users to customize their own experience by limiting notifications to their favourite topics and verticals that they’ve opted into. 

Research from the Columbia Journalism Review found that consumers are generally comfortable with receiving push notifications. As a result, companies are successfully leveraging this technology to keep audiences interested in content. 

New York Magazine, for instance, has seen a 7% click-through rate on mobile push notifications for its shopping vertical, and plans to increase notification frequency around other verticals. Viafoura clients have also seen click-through rates of up to 27.6% on push notifications.

Overall, push notifications are a quick and effective way to connect directly with your audience members for urgent or new content. 

Ratings and Reviews

Have you ever wondered how you can best flag top content to consumers without ever lifting a finger? Rating and review tools allow audience members to publish their own authentic feelings about your content. 

These community-made recommendations are often perceived by consumers to be significantly trustworthy.

In fact, “92% of consumers trust peer recommendations,” says a marketing expert on G2. 

These tools also give consumers an additional avenue to engage with your platform, flagging top content as they generate conversation.

Data-Driven Recommendation Widgets

If you’ve ever subscribed to a video-streaming platform, you’ve probably noticed the recommended content that changes as you watch new videos.

Content-recommendation widgets run algorithms that analyze user data and automatically choose what media consumers see. In most cases, these tools help companies provide a highly relevant experience to consumers. 

Data-driven personalisation… ensures customers get what they want,” reads an article on SportsPro. 

These personalization tools aren’t limited to the OTT space, and can be leveraged by any media company that hosts content on their digital properties.

As a matter of fact, all types of companies that buy into personalization tech are surpassing their competitors by 30% in sales. 

Trending Conversations

Comment readers earn up to six times the engagement than ordinary consumers.

For this reason, you may want to consider putting a tool in place to keep these extremely valuable community members interested in your platform. 

Certain tools are actually able to highlight trending conversations across your properties, allowing you to keep your most active audience members reading your most engaging content. 

Personalized Messages 

Gartner explains how “brands find themselves balancing the need for personalized marketing messages while consumers are increasingly concerned about privacy and data usage.”

To keep consumers engaged and satisfied on digital properties, companies are now relying on their first-party data to understand consumer behaviors. With these resulting insights, companies are able to send relevant, personalized messages to subscribers. Custom messages can be used to suggest a curated list of must-read content based on the particular interests of each consumer. 

Many companies send out these types of personalized messages to users who are becoming inactive, allowing them to re-engaging audience members and prevent churn.

 No matter how abundant or great your content is, the right people aren’t necessarily finding it. Maximize the time users spend on your digital properties by giving them a gentle push in the right direction.

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