Mobile is media’s next partner for subscription efforts

By Mark Challinor

Media Futures Consultancy

London, United Kingdom


Media’s digital acceleration — including the future of mobile services — means our industry is shifting toward a subscription economy that relies on loyalty, value-added benefits, and easy and frictionless payments. As we all begin to emerge from the coronavirus lockdown, we should have a clearer idea about what’s next.

That, of course, means how to exploit the new digital and mobile landscape into which we’re all headed.

Customer engagement and interactions are increasingly moving into the mobile space.
Customer engagement and interactions are increasingly moving into the mobile space.

There’s not much debate about the fact that the pace of our content digitisation is increasing, and this will continue to happen. Among other things, that means new, customer-focussed services and mechanisms will be required more than ever. As subscription models become the likely base on which to develop longer-term — or, as author Robbie Kellman Baxter told INMA Virtual World Congress attendees recently, “forever” — relationships with our customers, we need to hone new partnerships. Ones which, when experienced, people won’t want to leave.

For those working in media, the ability to offer and then execute an enhanced, digital experience to engage and retain our customers will become more critical than ever. Therefore, media must address the challenge of personalising the customer experience and deliver what customers want at the time they want it and via the channel they want it. The ability to build “sticky” (or indeed, forever) relationships with our customers will intertwine with the mobile services arena.

Only by adopting a digitally focused, next-generation customer engagement strategy can we really expect to deliver a dynamic and data-driven experience to meet the quick changing expectations of our readers, both now and in the longer term. That increasingly means “thinking mobile.” How can mobile be a growing piece of what we offer and not just a token adoption?

Customer engagement strategies will increasingly involve a mobile-first approach. Mobile will ultimately be the cornerstone to a diverse and growing revenue stream, if that’s not already the case in your organisation. This is especially true in this subscription-driven arena, where ease of use and payment will undoubtedly become the norm. The obvious starting point here is to define your next-generation customer engagement strategy — dynamic, data-driven, and delivered in real time. And then, how to execute it.

In my opinion, the future of subscriptions is likely to thrive using a creative approach toward customer engagement. Examples might be a level of “gamification” and new visual formats, creative storytelling, breaking news sent “in a flash,” best deals in real time … all in the palm of your hand.

Of course, all this requires a foundation of a connected, agile, secure engagement platform that can adapt to all channels, desktop or mobile. That will enable us to deliver a consistent experience as newer channels emerge over time and allow us to improve our customer satisfaction, reduce churn, grow our ARPUs and revenue, and differentiate ourselves in an increasingly competitive environment.

Flexibility to emerging trends and customer behaviours will also play a crucial role. In the future, media companies will have to have many automated, personalised focuses to keep up with the services our subscribers are likely to demand.

Are you (becoming) ready for that?

Based on our customer profiles and other real-time triggers, mobile customers can be sent offers and/or notifications as reminders of soon-to-expire offers or new reader e-commerce services. These are personalised to the context of time and how loyal customers have been. It is vital that we, the media, have the flexibility to do all this. We need creative solutions that allow us to make adjustments within minutes or hours.

I read recently that leading researchers at Forrester commented that, to construct a truly world-class loyalty programme, you need to have the following:

  • Meet the expectations of “empowered consumers. (That increasingly means via mobile.)
  • Create value in your relationship with them. (Mobile is perfect, as mentioned above.)
  • Leverage real-time response capabilities. (Again, ideal via mobile.)
  • Manage customer data flows.
  • Overcome data, process (be agile!), and technology silos. (That is, cross platforms including mobile-first as the main focus.)

It seems to me the future of subscriptions will be all about “personal” and “individual.” That approach is dependent on the building of ongoing/lasting, loyal relationships rather than short-term surprises, offers, and treats. Digital media requires a different strategic approach and a different tech base for engaging with our customers if our future is to “score the goal” of true monetisation.

All I am saying here is make sure your mobile offerings are integral to whatever you do. Realise its potential, its difference (from other channels), and its power to excite, update, and create perceived and relevant value. Real loyalty comes from this. As I said earlier, all this can be experienced in the palm of the hand … at a time and in a manner your customers want.

In beginning this journey, one thing above else to concentrate on is ensuring frictionless payments are part of this mix. Make it all so easy for them to say “yes” — bit like what Apple and Amazon have done for years. 

About Mark Challinor

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