Publishers must focus on retention and acquisition for long-term success

By Shelley Seale

INMA

Austin, Texas, USA

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In his research with Piano, Patrick Appel says there hasn’t been too much that has been completely unsurprising.

As director of research for Piano, Appel spoke with INMA at the Media Subscriptions Week in February.

“When you actually get the numbers on retention and acquisition, most of those make sense,” he said. “New customers are more likely to be lost, long-term commitments are more valuable.”

It’s more difficult to get people to subscribe from social media, where they are passively viewing content, while it’s a bit easier from Google, where they are searching with intent.

“The real value of our research, what we’ve found is using it to help our clients and publishers understand what’s normal and what’s not normal,” Appel said. “If I see my churn is 10% in a given month, and for the industry it’s 20%, well then I’m doing pretty well. If I’m at 10% and the industry is at 5%, well then I have some room for improvement.”

It’s more about understanding the connections between different kinds of strategic decisions, he said.

“As an industry, as we’ve gotten into subscriptions, we’ve been very acquisitions focused on how do I get my conversions rate to go up and increase the overall number of subscriptions on a monthly basis. That’s clearly important — I can’t have a subscription business without it — but if I’m doing things to increase acquisition and it’s lowering lifetime value, it’s causing a lot of churn, then I’m creating a business that has a hole in it.”

Ultimately, a publisher will need to solve that problem to build a sustainable, long-term revenue stream that will support the company.

About Shelley Seale

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