That number needs to keep growing. The goal is to have 60% of subscribers registered and 30% regularly engaging with a paid digital product at least once a month by the end of 2014.
To help drive engagement, we are also promoting digital-only subscriptions and daily digital day passes. We use log-in management software tools like Janrain to help stitch together a deeper understanding of how our customers use us across platforms and devices so we can better target them.
We use front page teases from our print product promoting special, interactive, bonus content. We send daily e-mails linked to our digital replica edition with no log-in required (once registration has been activated) and these daily emails have an incredible 27% open rate every day. So we know people are reading our content on their digital devices.
Additionally, we developed a weekly digital content messaging campaign that uses e-mail marketing, social media, and digital display advertising to drive subscribers to a specific front-page story each Sunday.
By choosing stories that are relevant to the interests and concerns of our subscribers, we aim with the campaign to elicit feelings of connection, engagement, and being in the know.
Toward the end of last year, we started offering day passes (sold at US$.99 cents) to our suite of digital products, and we’ve been pleased with the results.
It’s easy to see that those sales are driven by content – especially sports and big breaking news. It is like the standard single-copy buying experience but, in this case, we have the customer data so we can re-target them.
We’ve seen a high conversion rate to a paid subscription with these efforts.
It is empowering for the newsroom to see how their tweets and posts drive these numbers — and it’s great to be able to show reporters concrete ways they help to drive sales — and that they have ownership in the revenue numbers.
And because digital-only subscriptions are another important part of driving audience numbers and engagement, we’re putting specific, focused efforts against that.
Our key learnings around activating our digital audience are to listen to and learn as much as we can about customers, know their preferences, their habits, and their needs, and to adapt our portfolio of products – keep it simple – and constantly try new things to engage readers and help them navigate through the digital product offerings.
Susie Ellwood is publisher at the Austin American-Statesman, based in Austin, Texas, USA. She can be reached Susie.Ellwood@coxinc.com or @SEllwood.
The Ideas Blog captures the practical discussions and case studies of news media company to grow revenue, audience, and brand. These case studies are written by INMA members for INMA members. Begun in December 2012, this content previously resided in Ideas Magazine; for an archive of past case studies, click here.