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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

The best conversion strategy media and publishing companies still aren’t using

July 19, 2021 | By Sibel Ugur, Marketing Director – Zephr @ZephrGlobal

When talking about conversion strategies within the digital media industry, we often focus our efforts on the same tried-and-tested methods: email marketing, social media campaigns, SEO, PPC, etc. These are all important and effective ways to drive readers along the path to registration. They make up the foundation for a complete digital strategy, including subscriptions. 

But there’s one aspect of the online content offering that is too-often overlooked, despite being pivotal to a publisher’s bottom line: the on-site user experience.

By UX we don’t simply mean a seamless UI and attractive website design (although these are vital, too). We’re talking about data-driven, deeply personalized, unique experiences that make anonymous visitors far more likely to register, and repeat customers far less likely to churn. 

This improvement can take many forms, such as differentiated trigger points for your most engaged readers, messaging dependent on on-site behaviors, and personalized offers.  Any move to more closely align value with offering – in other words, every step taken into deeper personalization – makes your relationship with  customers stronger and more likely to last.

Ultimately, optimizing the user experience is a commercial gamechanger. It significantly affects two major KPIs : lifetime value (LTV) and customer acquisition cost (CAC).

Optimize the user experience to drastically lower CAC

With more competition than ever and customer expectations at an all-time high, customer acquisition is tough. This is particularly true in the overcrowded market for digital content. 

However, experience optimization makes it much easier for publishers to target and convert their audiences. When it comes to messaging, 72% of consumers won’t respond to marketing efforts unless they are personalized, according to SmarterHQ. And while personalized messaging alone may not lead directly to a sale (although, it very much could), it may be just what your business needs to stop visitors falling at the first hurdle. If you can’t get your readers to engage, there’s no chance they are going to convert. 

But this is just the first step in a first-party data strategy. Progressively profiling readers by collecting new information at different stages of the subscriber lifecycle allows you to accurately target readers with registration walls at the right time, using user data such as on-site activity, device type and time of day. The incremental build up of your datasets gives your commercial decision makers a better understanding of the customer base. This, in turn, informs their ability to tweak messaging and experiences to nurture leads.

Further down the funnel, unique user experiences will also help get new customers over the line. The first-party data collected on registration can then inform tailored content, offers and timing. This accelerates conversation rates and keeps bounce rates low.

 It takes a lot of effort (time and money) to get users from awareness to intent. So, turning them off with an ill-timed paywall or irrelevant content offer leads to an automatic loss. On the other hand, Marketing Insider Group found that tailored content offerings increase purchasing intent for 78% of Americans. This makes triggers such as a datawall or paywall a make-or-break point for digital publishers.

Focus on personalization to increase LTV

Optimized experience increases your chances of converting a user. However, focusing on the customer experience straight after purchase also sets the foundation for higher value, longer-term subscribers. 

Maintain personalized content to keep engaged readers happy. This paves the way for an upsell opportunity for your most loyal advocates. It is famously 10x easier to sell to a current customer than a new one. However, this is often forgotten in the world of media. Increasing subscription value, or lengthening subscriber lifetime directly boosts revenue and profitability. Doing both has a double whammy effect on your commercial goals.

And personalization isn’t just for those at the top of the funnel. Use customer engagement and behaviors to identify churn risks — the subset of your customer base that seem disengaged and are therefore disproportionately likely to leave. Give them a tailored offer, potentially even a downsell to a lower plan, or nudge them with relevant content to maintain each and every relationship. 

Conversion is nothing without retention. Personalized experiences at the beginning of the customer journey (such as getting the right users to convert with relevant messaging) help keep churn at a minimum just as much as last-ditch attempts.

The bottom line

Experience optimization is the best conversion strategy publishers aren’t doing, But they should be. That’s because it has such a direct impact on commercial outcomes. Purchases are made on relevant, unique experiences just as much as bad impressions are via irrelevant or ill-timed messaging. 

And at the end of the day, optimizing the user experiences at each point of the subscriber lifecycle is an improvement that every publisher can make without needing to build a new team, or create a new marketing channel from scratch. Getting it right can turbocharge revenues. Getting it wrong can ruin all your other commercial efforts.

For most, it’s a simple yet powerful step that you just can’t afford not to take in today’s media landscape. 

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