That was the core message from the recent AOP Crunch event – Driving sustainable audience growth to diversify revenues – in which panellists talked about their experience of building reader revenues.
Listening to the panellists, here are my (their) top tips for reader revenue success:
- ‘Likelihood to renew’ should determine acquisition targeting: there is no point chasing prospects who are likely y1 churners.
- Be data led. The old “spray and pray” approach to marketing is no longer fit for purpose and a more nuanced, personalised approach to messaging is needed.
- Move beyond basic demographics. Age/sex/location is better than nothing, but it’s a blunt set of tools. One panellist went so far as to say that ‘demographics would soon be dead’. What was increasingly important was to be able to segment by need or passion point. After all, not all women, aged under-30 living in Birmingham are the same.
- Shift the whole organisation’s focus from the advertiser to the reader. This doesn’t mean that advertising is dead but that every decision should now be taken with the reader’s needs paramount.
- Build a test & learn culture. You should be constantly experimenting and the learnings should inform all future experiments. Knowledge should be stored, shared and acted upon. For this, your marketing teams will need the tech tools that will enable them to experiment at speed.
- Deliver the best possible user experience. This means clean attractive, uncluttered interfaces, frictionless interactions and targeted quality content. Ad-saturation should not be part of the equation.
- Focus on reader retention. At any one time, a surprisingly large percentage of subscribers are ‘sleepers’ – people who rarely visit the site and are, therefore, most unlikely to renew. A progressive onboarding experience, reminding them of subscription benefits and encouraging usage coupled with strategies tailored specifically for ‘sleepers’ will increase renewal rates.
- Not all content needs to be published. Just because you have it, doesn’t mean you have to use it! If the content is not going to be deemed interesting by your paying reader, then don’t put it up there.
- Don’t forget advertising! The reader value proposition is taking over both sides of the publishing business – content and commercial. Advertisers love engaged readers and premium ad packages are in no way out of place in a reader-focused world.
The panel consisted of Taneth Evans, Lou Gautier, Rupert Knowles, Luke Nicholls and Lindsay Rowntree (moderator). You can find out more about the event and watch a short video here.
You can catch James Evelegh’s regular column in the InPubWeekly newsletter, which you can register to receive here.