Now that people have adapted to a world with COVID-19, publishers no longer have the luxury of relying on a jam-packed news cycle to constantly engage subscribers. With subscriptions surging by 58% over the last few months, media companies must learn how to keep their new audience members interested and paying as the pandemic slowly settles.
“I think the challenge as we hopefully get back to more normal times is how do you do that when you don’t have the news cycle doing that for you?” asks Patrick Appel, Piano’s director of research. “How do you still help people [understand] what they’re purchasing and the value of it?”
To help you capture and keep subscribers — no matter what the news cycle looks like — we’ve mapped out exactly what it takes to re-engage audiences successfully below.
1. Find the right community engagement partner
If you want to continuously engage subscribers, you’ll need to add exciting experiences that extend beyond your company’s content.
Just look at The New York Times. Almost half (44%) of the company’s newest subscribers were drawn in by non-news products, which included games and audio experiences.
It’s clear publishers can win over subscribers by supporting their content with interactive opportunities for users. And the most effective engagement strategies and tools start with support from the right community engagement service provider.
By joining forces with a community management partner, you’ll be able to use a series of engagement tools to your advantage, like commenting widgets, real-time chat boxes, live blogs, and personalised experiences. That way, you can better connect with your audience members and leave lasting impressions on them.
Just make sure your engagement tool provider uses an intelligent moderation engine to keep your digital social spaces welcoming and safe for advertisers and users. (You can also access a complete walkthrough of how to make the most of your engagement tools here.)
2. Monitor and respond to low engagement levels
One of the earliest signs that a subscriber may unsubscribe is a drop in on-site engagement.
“[Disengaged] subscribers tend to account for a significant share of cancellations overall,” according to a report from Piano. “While [an unengaged subscriber] might take many months to get around to cancelling, about half of them on annual subscriptions and two-thirds on monthly subscriptions are gone within a year of going inactive.”
Rather than sitting by as subscribers become unengaged and cancel their subscriptions, there’s an easy way for you to detect low engagement and re-engage users.
Your engagement tool provider should be able to monitor user engagement levels and signal an internal team or paywall provider when engagement levels drop. You can then present special content recommendations, VIP experiences, or discounts to revive subscriber interest in your media brand.
As long as you have a way to identify people who may be on the verge of unsubscribing, you can deliver personalised re-engagement opportunities directly to your audience members.
3. Round out your re-engagement strategy with push notifications
Not sure how you can re-engage subscribers that have become completely inactive?
There’s no need to stress out over subscribers who have stopped visiting your company’s Web site altogether — not when you can send push notifications to their mobile devices to re-engage them.
“We can [send push alerts] to people and take our content to them rather than relying on them coming to us,” explains the director of audience at the San Francisco Chronicle, Jess Shaw.
Consider alerting your subscribers about new content that aligns with their unique interests to improve your chances of recapturing their attention.
Even if your media company consistently serves up trusted, in-depth content, it may not be enough to keep people paying. A simple engagement strategy is often necessary for publishers to maintain their subscriber bases and build up audience loyalty. After all, sending out gentle reminders and nudges around your company’s content can greatly improve subscriber retention and engagement.