During the fall of 2016, MittMedia launched its revised paid content strategy. This was not the first or even the second try to implement a sustainable business model based on the assumption that the user was willing to pay for a monthly subscription.

What differentiated this solution from previous iterations was that this time there was a solid foundation in data in combination with obvious improvements in the user experience, based on findings from previous paywall designs.

Since the relaunch of the paid content business model, MittMedia has been finding success in converting the audience to paying customers. To drive conversion, more than anything else, we have found that the key to constant improvements lies within the hard work to constantly reassess the data describing the user’s interests and to find and erase the feeling of friction when going through the paywall funnel.

As the graph indicates, there is a strong connection between churn probability and the number of articles being consumed per day. A user who consumes one article per day has almost twice the churn probability compared to a user consuming at least two articles per day.
As the graph indicates, there is a strong connection between churn probability and the number of articles being consumed per day. A user who consumes one article per day has almost twice the churn probability compared to a user consuming at least two articles per day.

However, the strive to keep the conversion rate at a high level is only a part of the story behind how to stay relevant as a digital content provider. The most crucial aspect of reaching sustainability is the retention of the user to keep the churn levels down.

For a publisher like MittMedia working with local and regional news, it’s crucial that the user feel we are in proximity. That is how we stay relevant: by creating content that feels close. And when looking at data, proving the link between activity and user retention, we can actually use this to our advantage, and approach anti churn from a pure geographical perspective.

The number of articles consumed per user is closely connected to the activation frequency of the user. Many users trail off, staying inactive for more than a week at a time. By comparing the users from the different data sets, MittMedia concludes a user who consumes few articles or stays inactive for long periods is expected to cancel the subscription.
The number of articles consumed per user is closely connected to the activation frequency of the user. Many users trail off, staying inactive for more than a week at a time. By comparing the users from the different data sets, MittMedia concludes a user who consumes few articles or stays inactive for long periods is expected to cancel the subscription.

To do this we have created something that we call a geo activity map. The tool is an overview of the geographical regions that MittMedia is covering. It provides a visualisation of active, paid-subscription users plotted on a map. The main purpose of the tool is to understand how different clusters of users are activated throughout the day.

By plotting the coordinates of the content being published, it’s easy to see the correlation between the users and the content. As a local news publisher, this is a clear way of getting feedback about if and how the users are finding their way into the products.

More than showing passive and active users, the tool also exposes where churn is currently happening using grey dots. To give the editorial staff a good understanding for how the day is performing, there is a progress bar located at the upper left corner.

 

Coordinates on the map represent geographic areas of user activity. Insights from the geo activity map also can be used to represent churn and to help fine-tune target areas for geographical push notifications.
Coordinates on the map represent geographic areas of user activity. Insights from the geo activity map also can be used to represent churn and to help fine-tune target areas for geographical push notifications.

One obvious way for MittMedia to affect the user activity is to rely on the geographical push notifications the user can activate in the mobile news application. By combining the insights from the geo activity map with what the users have chosen as their geographical region, it is possible to fine tune content publishing to fit within the areas that have a good possibility to activate the users that are still marked as inactive in the tool.

We also know local content has a tendency to spread organically throughout the user group, and most published articles are accumulating traffic also by drawing the users attention from social media. By combining this with what we saw earlier, plotting the geographical push notifications, we can to a large extent get a good understanding for how the user arrives in our products.

After MittMedia began using the the geo activity map, there was an obvious increase in activity.
After MittMedia began using the the geo activity map, there was an obvious increase in activity.

And the geo activity map has turned out to be a good tool for actually verifying this, helping the company to decide on publishing routines and verifying that the content is finding its audience.

MittMedia first started to use the geo activity map in October 2017, and we can clearly see an increase in user frequency. In the months before launch, active users per day ranged between 50%-60% and in the months after the launch, active users/day ranged between 60%-70%.