As evidence of this, product leads from Financial Times, The New York Times, and Singapore Press Holdings shared their strategies and success stories with World Congress attendees.
For the past five years, a North Star of engagement served The Financial Times well. But as the company saw its engagement strategies succeed, it recently adopted a new North Star: Lifetime Value.
Cait O’Riordan, chief product and information officer for the FT, explained that as the company’s engagement strategies matured, it began asking new questions — such as how to go after bigger opportunities “that would significantly drive value to the bottom line at the FT.” As a discovery team looked into the question, it led to a new way of thinking, she said.
“Our hypothesis was that by focusing more specifically on the borderline engaged, we were missing out on bigger opportunities that we could drive by increasing overall lifetime value.”
Lifetime value, or LTV, builds off the foundation of engagement FT had worked so hard to create. And O’Riordan admitted its formula is a bit of a guess: “What it thinks about is how much money each customer will spend with us during their time as a subscriber. And it is a prediction. It’s a very educated guess.”
O’Riordan shared what creates total LTV, how FT uses its Opportunity Assessment Framework, and six tactics to increasing LTV, including easier account management for subscribers, which includes simpler online cancellation flows and “right-sizing” offers.
“Our hypothesis was that we could make more money, more lifetime value, by making it easier to cancel,” O’Riordan said. Now when a customer goes to cancel, they are given options to change the type of subscription they have. That resulted in cancellation requests coming into the customer care centre dropping from 100% to 25%, and increasing the LTV by 15%-33%. In dollars, that adds up to about US$1.8 million.
The New York Times
Over the course of 10 years from 2006-2016, Chief Product Officer Alex Hardiman worked at The New York Times with a mission called the “mobile imperative.” This mission aimed to tackle getting The New York Times mobile. And by the end of those 10 years, the company was leading in mobile with most of its business aspects, giving “new journalistic efforts, new product features, and new revenue capabilities,” Hardiman said.
This helped grow a culture change in the newsroom. This showed reporters that audience reach can simply happen from users getting a notification on their smartphone, something that now outweighs being on the front page of the newspaper.
The New York Times leaned into this growth. This growth has propelled the business, product, and software building. And with the tumultuous events that occurred in 2020, its newsroom forced creativity on how stories were presented to people and how those stories were helpful to people around the world.
In 2020, NYT data showed one in two Americans visited The New York Times Web site. Half of the country came for trusted, expert journalism during a confusing and hard time. Also in this data, they found a lot of these readers were first-time readers. This opened the doors for opportunities to gain subscribers.
Hardiman shared with INMA members the seven needs of its audience, including getting caught up on “what’s happening right now” and being connected by hearing voices they value and admire.
Singapore Press Holdings
SPH Chief Product Officer Gaurav Sachdeva had encouraging news for those running into roadblocks building products or product teams, saying they are not unique to the media industry.
To overcome these challenges, Sachdeva introduced World Congress attendees to what he calls the Tenents of Building Strong Products:
Build the right product that is customer-focused and driven by outcomes.
Have data-backed metrics in which to measure success.
Fail early by testing products quickly and course-correct early.
“Go out, get feedback from users,” he said. “You’ll be surprised and they’ll be happy to tell you and co-create the product with you.”
Sachdeva suggested World Congress attendees answer three questions to help them take specific action, including: “Have you defined your team’s roles? If not, define and hold them accountable.”
Sachdeva wants product managers to become successful by being storytellers who are driven by outcomes and whose decisions are backed by data, regardless the bumps in the road.
“A lot of times you may be required to rescue,” he said. “You may not even meet the outcome that you set out for. You may not hit that engagement metric, you may actually deteriorate it.” Yet product leaders and teams must set the direction and take leaps of faith.
Thursday, May 27, is the final day of the 2021 World Congress. Register here for that session and recordings of past sessions.