Audience engagement is critical to building a loyal base of paying subscribers, says leading subscription and digital marketing consultant Jocelyn Cripps.
Cripps was the keynote speaker at WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Africa 2018 conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she led discussions on building engagement and loyalty, and the path to optimising recurring revenues.
It is not enough for media companies to be super-efficient at acquiring customers: “We also need to create onsite experiences that drive repeat visits and create customer value,” says Cripps.
“In my experience, there are many companies that focus so firmly on acquisition that the onboarding and engagement is missed out, and the next time you hear from them, after you’ve signed up, is when they write to you about renewal. The retention strategy is almost the after thought,” ~ Jocelyn Cripps
An experienced marketer, Cripps has more than a decade of experience in developing recurring revenues from subscriptions for media owners such as Amazon, the Financial Times (FT), The Economist and News UK.
In her most recent role, she managed Subscribe and Save EU, Amazon’s biggest loyalty engagement programme. Prior to that she was EVP, B2C Global Marketing at the FT, responsible for print and digital subscriptions revenue growth. In that role she undertook the commercialization of the FT digital subs paywall globally, conducting the experimentation and analysis that led the FT to make its successful transition from metred access to paid access.
Cripps says that sometimes a deep cultural shift is needed to put customers at the heart of the business.
“To develop successful subscription products and services, you need to have a deep understanding of who your audience is and their needs. There are plenty of cues in the data but many companies struggle to extract those crucial pieces of information that are needed to inform the customer value proposition,” –Jocelyn Cripps
The good news is that the subscription economy is growing. The Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2018 shows major shifts with many media companies shifting models towards higher quality content and more emphasis on reader payment.
Writing in the report, Nic Newman, Research Associate, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, noted: ”We find that the move to distributed content via social media and aggregators has been halted — or is even starting to reverse, while subscriptions are increasing in a number of countries.”
The report found increases in paying online news subscribers in a number of countries, with donations and donation-based memberships emerging as a significant alternative strategy in some markets.
The research suggests that new millennial audiences are more prepared to pay for content and experiences than older generation — largely due to the growth of subscription streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Spotify which have conditioned young people to be more willing to pay for quality content. These services also fulfill millennials’ need for fast and easy access, variety of options and customer value.
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