The Most Effective Retention Strategies for Publishers

As a publisher, you’ve worked hard to create valuable and exciting content. You’ve likely worked even harder to funnel visitors to your site and turn them into paying users. Now you face the biggest challenge of all:

Retaining and engaging your prized subscribers.

There are dozens of retention strategies that publishers can implement to keep their users from clicking the dreaded “unsubscribe” button. Still, not all of them are equally robust. We’ve gathered a few of our favorite and most effective retention strategies below.

Find and Use the Right Engagement Tools

When most publishers think about community building and engagement tools, they think of social media. Social platforms are highly effective because users can’t help checking for the latest updates. The fear of missing out (FOMO) has become one of the most potent audience development and engagement tools.

While social media can help you build an online community or encourage subscribers to develop brand loyalty, it’s not the ideal strategy. Since most of the interactions happen off-site, you have very little access to first-party data and user information.

Why is first-party data so critical? At its core, it’s far more valuable and insightful than third-party data, and it’s yours. It’s the one way you can reliably learn about your audience’s tastes, interests, and habits. It’s also useful for developing personalized experiences through hyper-targeted audience segments.

Additionally, with the fast-approaching end of third-party cookies, gathering data through an external middleman will soon become nearly impossible. So, what can you do instead? Luckily, there are a few other options to keep your users engaged with on-site engagement tools and strategies.

Provide a Personalized Experience Right from the Start

Onboarding a new subscriber and providing them with a personalized experience is one of the most effective yet most underutilized strategies to turn a conversion into a loyal, paying user. According to the American Press Institute (API), fewer than 20% of publishers provide subscribers with personalized content recommendations, newsletters, or discounts.

Similarly, over 90% of publishers realize that onboarding is an invaluable part of the retention process. While 78% typically send a welcome email, less than a quarter tell new subscribers about the benefits they receive or the materials they can now access.

You need to make your audience feel valuable right from the start, and personalization is the best way to do so.

Add Value With Push Notifications and Newsletters

It can take up to 254 days for a person to form a new habit. That’s almost two-thirds of a year! That’s also how long you’ll need to constantly remind users to keep visiting your site before they’ll start doing it out of habit.

Okay, so that’s not true for all subscribers. However, most people just don’t have the time to check a site for the latest news or content every day, especially if the content isn’t always in line with their interests.

With personalized, curated push notifications and newsletters, you can let subscribers know if there’s something they might be interested in seeing. Not only will they feel more valued, but they’re also more likely to start checking your site for new and exciting content habitually.

Most importantly, they won’t want to lose access and will be more likely to renew their subscription when it becomes due.

Focus on Building a Community

We know that most publishers use subscription models to generate an income from their content. However, that shouldn’t be your only goal. If you focus on your audience and foster interaction, you’ll build a much stronger community.

While social media is one of the best places to do so, it doesn’t have to be the only one. There are several ways you can encourage interaction amongst subscribers through exclusive membership areas, virtual events, video tutorials, or webinars. Even something as simple as a comment section can impact your engagement rates, develop your audience, and help you build a community.

Analyze Your Results to Improve Retention Even More

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a 100% retention rate? As impressive as that sounds, it’s nearly impossible. Even large, global publishers lose subscribers somewhat continually. Instead of becoming discouraged by a canceled or lost subscription, analyze the data to gain insight into why it happened.

The biggest reason for churn is unengaged subscribers. According to API, over 50% of publishers don’t know how to identify at-risk subscribers accurately. If you pinpoint and engage these users, you can significantly increase your retention rates.

Final Word

We’ve shared some of our top retention strategies for publishers and even a few helpful tips. With the right tools, you can improve audience development, enhance your community-building activities, and decrease churn.

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.

Viafoura Releases Next Generation Viafoura Engagement Cloud for Media Companies

Enhanced solution empowers media brands to drive subscriber rates and online engagement, demonstrating competitive value to advertisers

TORONTO (August 23, 2017): Viafoura, a leader in engagement, commenting and moderation tools, today announces the release of its upgraded Next Generation Engagement Cloud. Optimized to encourage audience participation, registration and subscription within online communities, the enhanced solution provides media brands with the tools and first-party user behavior data necessary to support their market value.

As the only Engagement Cloud for media companies, Viafoura understands the importance of establishing and cultivating an engaged and loyal online community. Clients using the next generation platform can expect to see a rise in their website’s engagement metrics due to the complete redesign of the real-time commenting user experience. This enhanced experience includes new engagement capabilities such as follow features, notification feed and news tray, web push notifications, automated moderation and more.

The addition of follow features allows users to “follow” authors, other users, pages, sections and topics to receive real-time updates in their notification feed. The new web push notifications give brands the added ability to deliver breaking news alerts when users are off-site. They also give brands the opportunity to alert users of new replies, likes and followers, due to the platform’s one-of-a-kind integration with commenting features.

“With these new integrated tools, media companies can use Viafoura to take their audience development strategy to the next level.”
—Jesse Moeinifar, Viafoura founder and CEO

“Instead of leaving engagement to social media and, thus, losing out on invaluable first-party user data and on-site interactions, our platform empowers media brands to build relationships with customers directly on their owned channels. This is achieved by giving brands direct access to on-site engagement tools and user behavior data,” said Viafoura’s founder and CEO, Jesse Moeinifar.

The newly-added user behavior data provided by Viafoura includes pageviews, attention time and return visits. This complements the platform’s existing data collection on a brand’s audience, community and specific campaigns. Viafoura API’s connect this first-party data with marketing and sales platforms (i.e. DFP, BI, Paywall, CRM, DMP) to drive actionable analytics and revenue. With this information, brands can deliver more relevant content, such as emails and re-purposed, user-generated content, to cultivate continued engagement among their target audience, thus increasing revenue.

To learn more about Viafoura’s Next Generation Viafoura Engagement Cloud, visit the company’s blog at or contact

Interested in learning more?

Connect with us today to learn how Viafoura can help you build, manage and monetize your audience.

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Native Push Notifications on macOS for Chrome

Browser-based push notifications, which we released as part of our new Audience Engagement suite, have proven to be an incredibly powerful new channel for directly communicating with audiences. By allowing you to push important and personalized messages to your audience’s desktops and android devices, even when they are not on your site, you can drive timely and relevant re-engagement.

As of Chrome version 59, released this month, browser-based notifications now use the native notification system in macOS. This provides users with a much more integrated experience for breaking news and other notifications deployed by the Viafoura system.

So what changed?

Prior to version 59, Chrome notifications on macOS used a proprietary format that was entirely separate from the built-in notifications system. This caused user confusion and a broken experience with Chrome notifications behaving and appearing differently from all other system notifications.

With this change, browser-based push notifications will now behave in the following ways:


Viafoura Desktop Notifications

The overall size of the notifications are slightly smaller and are styled as standard notifications. As such, the notifications use a smaller square thumbnail that appears to the right of the headline.

The Chrome app icon is now present in the notification and appears to the left of the content.


Viafoura Notifications settings

They will now be manageable from within the system settings with all other notifications including the ability for users to set the alerts as banners (that appear and then dismiss automatically) or alerts (that stay on the desktop until dismissed manually).


Viafoura Notifications in alerts tray

They will appear and persist in the macOS notifications tray along with all other notifications until dismissed by the user. Previously, once the notifications timed out and disappeared from the desktop, they could not be retrieved.


Viafoura Notifications in Nightmode

They will respect the “Do not disturb” setting at the OS level.

What doesn’t change?

The way you deploy browser-based push notifications and opt-ins stays exactly the same, and notifications for Chrome on Windows and Android devices remain unchanged. Notifications for Firefox were already using the system notification system on macOS.

What does this mean for you?

If you are a customer using the Viafoura browser-based notification system, no action is needed. As your audience updates their version of Chrome on macOS, they will automatically switch over to the new version of desktop notifications.

Something to keep in mind though, is the reduced size of the thumbnail image. We recommend using a square thumbnail image to maximize the available space and ensuring the image is one that is attention-grabbing at the small scale.

Interested in learning more about Browser-Based Notifications?

Connect with us today to learn how Viafoura can help you build, manage and monetize your audience.

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Browser-Based Push Notifications: A New Channel

It’s very powerful. It could become bigger than email. There’s no spam traps; it goes exactly to the people who signed up for it. You could move hundreds of thousands of people a day to a piece of content.”
— Joe Speiser

Many media organizations have used app-based push notifications, but few have discovered the potential of browser-based push notifications.

Real-time push notifications are not competing with email but enable you to enter into the space of personal forms of communication, effectively competing with SMS and other personal alerts.

Entrepreneur Ariel Seidman captures this well: Now that you can reach users through the browser on desktop and mobile, media organizations “can tap almost two billion people on the shoulder.”

And the timeliness and attention required for a push notification is completely different than an email newsletter or digest that readers may not read for a couple of days.

“It’s very powerful,” confirms Joe Speiser, Co-Founder and CEO of LittleThings. “It could become bigger than email. There’s no spam traps; it goes exactly to the people who signed up for it. You could move hundreds of thousands of people a day to a piece of content.”

Browser-based push notifications drive more return visits

They prompt people to engage more with a news organization by returning to an app or website. And the data confirms people who receive push notifications return more than those who do not receive notifications.

In a recent study, The Engaging News Project found more than 56% of respondents who receive push notifications said they went to the news organization’s website.

The Washington Post launched Chrome notifications in September, reporting 200,000 signups, which amounts to a 10% opt-in rate and a 30% click-through rate.

Media organizations can communicate 1:1 with their readers through this new channel and shape the kinds of discussions they want to have around their content. “The more time we put into these direct channels, the more people are opting in,” confirms Anthony Sessa, VP of Product & Engineering, Mic. “It’s our feed. We get to control that feed and it’s not a black box like the Facebook algorithm. We can drive the conversation the way we want at the time we want.”

Providing readers with the effortless option to receive personalized alerts ensures they will receive breaking news or targeted content even when they are not on site. With the ability to reach your audience directly, you can take an active approach to driving traffic, and increasing click-throughs, and time-spent on site.

Free Webinar on Demand

Focused on growing your online community? Looking to grow and monetize your audience? Watch our webinar: Best Practices for Developing your Onsite Community.

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