5 best practices for retaining audiences post-pandemic

By Paula Felps

INMA

Nashville, Tennessee, United States

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Editor’s note: Robbie Kellman Baxter spoke with INMA in the second of nine modules for the Virtual World Congress being conducted May 5-28. Click here to register for the INMA Virtual World Congress, as attendees will have access to all speaker presentations and session recordings.

The first step in retaining the customers being acquired now is to make sure you’re asking the right questions.

“You have to ask yourself good questions about what’s going on,” said Robbie Kellman Baxter, subscriptions expert and author of The Forever Transaction and The Membership Economy, who spoke at the INMA Virtual World Congress on Thursday.

Some companies might be working off incorrect assumptions or hypotheses, she said. Re-examining the journey customers are taking and seeing what steps are shared by those who stay can provide insight into how to better react to new subscribers and turn them into long-term customers.

Robbie Kellman Baxter, subscriptions expert and author of The Forever Transaction and The Membership Economy, discussed onboarding with attendees at the INMA Virtual World Congress.
Robbie Kellman Baxter, subscriptions expert and author of The Forever Transaction and The Membership Economy, discussed onboarding with attendees at the INMA Virtual World Congress.

Baxter’s fireside chat with INMA Researcher-in-Residence Greg Piechota, titled “Subscriptions in Unchartered Waters: Culture, Metrics, Mindset,” looked at the opportunities and challenges facing publishers in the current climate.

“Are there differences between your best member and your not-best member? Getting curious about the distinction between the two is really important.”

One theme running through the entire discussion during the Thursday World Congress module focused on subscriptions is the power of the onboarding process toward increasing retention.

“Make sure when they come in that you determine the ones who are most likely to stay, and create an experience that optimises the chance of everyone staying longer,” Baxter said, pointing to The Wall Street Journal as an example. “One thing about [them] is that they’ve realised it’s not just about the messaging. It’s about content like crossword puzzles. But it’s also the product, the technical wrapping, the e-mails they use.”

More than 300 INMA members throughout the world are taking part in the Virtual World Congress.
More than 300 INMA members throughout the world are taking part in the Virtual World Congress.

Baxter also shared with attendees detailed looks at best practices that are vital in these times:

  1. Find your best customers and mimic their experiences.
  2. A detailed look at your onboarding process to learn from fall-offs.
  3. Don’t forget your future readers. As employees and boards age, so do companies. Fight that.
  4. Fight subscription fatigue. Baxter shared two ways to overcome this.
  5. Dealing with cancellations before they happen. Have a policy. Pro tips: Offering a pause option is hugely helpful with retention. Reducing the price when someone tries to cancel isn’t.

Looking beyond short-term results can assure long-term customers. And, when asked about creating a strategy to attract customers back, Baxter suggested a two-fold vision.

The idea of a young "shadow board" interested many attendees.
The idea of a young "shadow board" interested many attendees.

Said Baxter: “I would advise to look with your microscope at your existing members and existing offerings and continue to tinker and improve them, but also use your telescope to look out on your horizon at what tomorrow’s members’ options are. What are their challenges, and what are their criteria?”

The Virtual World Congress continues on Monday, May 11. Register here for individual sessions or the entire Congress (the latter includes access to presentations and recordings from this and previous sessions).

Banner image courtesy of TheDigitalArtist and Angela Yuriko Smith from Pixabay.

About Paula Felps

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