Workshop

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How to Retain Your Audience in 2020

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Do you actively think about how your visitors come to you? If you’re still relying on erratic websites and referral traffic, the mercy of social media algorithms, and Google – where over 50% of today’s searches result in zero clicks – you seriously need to rethink your whole strategy. 

All publishers need to understand that owning your audience is when the users themselves have given you permission to reach out to them with relevant content. You have control over this audience to send them relevant updates whenever you wish to. Renting is when you can’t take charge of the audience and reach out to them as needed.

It’s obvious which approach brings more sustainable and long-term benefits. So if you haven’t yet, now is the time to think about how to retain your community and protect yourself from reliance on random strokes of luck and the dominance of walled gardens.

Here’s how. 

Understand who your readers are

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In today’s era of tough competition and content overload, it’s crucial to have a visitor-centric approach and combine it with big data capabilities. But before figuring out how to give value to the visitors, you need to understand them. 

That’s why all publishers should invest in creating reader profiles. Each publication has a target audience, so thinking about the age, gender, location, or industry of your most frequent visitors to build your target reader persona will drive more strategic decision-making.

31% of publishers didn’t collect reader data in 2018

Remember that reader profiles shouldn’t be powered only by your wishful thinking and instincts. Rather, you need to establish a clear data-driven process. Always make sure to collect and analyse visitor data and their behavioural information: According to a Lotame survey, 31% of publishers didn’t collect reader data in 2018. But those who want to stay relevant must reap the benefits of data – following page views, pages per session, session duration, and other data points, is essential.

Your best bet is to complement this approach with a human touch. While asking visitors for feedback may seem old-school, it works. Surveys and forms are a great way to access valuable insights directly from your audience to see what they enjoy, what their preferences are, and how they want to interact with you. 

Personalise the user experience

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Once you have a better overview of who your readers are, it’s time to kick start the magic. Set up timely and send personalised messages via both email and web push. These will help you build an important communication bridge and increase your website sessions and send more traffic to your site. 

To start off the dialogue, you need to craft and program killer newsletter emails. This is an absolute no-brainer: Almost 22% of emails that publishers send out to their audiences are opened – that’s a great number comparing it to the average organic reach on Facebook that’s around 6.4%.

Almost 22% of emails that publishers send out to their audiences are opened

Personalise both your email and push notification experiences as much as you can with the data you have at your disposal. Remember, never hit your visitors up with the prompt the exact moment they land on the website – while engagement is key, it’s also a subtle art that needs to be mastered so that both parties get the optimal value from it. 

So know that you won’t succeed by spamming your readers’ inbox with boastful messaging and irrelevant suggestions. The more the experience fits individual preferences, the better.

By building these links, you can convert someone from a regular visitor to an actual lead. Based on that, you can move towards converting a lead into an actual sale. To find the best ways to make a profit from your marketing funnel, you need to guarantee that the offer you bring to the table is irresistible.

The whole industry is shifting towards subscription-based monetisation: Through the first nine months of 2019, publisher spending on paid Facebook distribution to support subscriptions was up 150% compared to the same period last year, according to Keywee data. So creating an excellent subscription experience that has highly personalised messaging is a great option.

Produce quality content – and multiply it

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While a lot has been shifting in the media realm, there’s still one constant. And that’s quality content. Use the data you collect to see which themes and formats resonate with your audience the best and focus on those. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new experiences and make sure your readers feel like they’re shaping the conversation.

To do that, leverage your content to build a community. You can interact in comments sections, ask questions, and promote user-generated content. Also, try gamifying the experience: Design quizzes, craft social polls, and organise contests – by posting the winning entries on your social handles you can further multiplicate the impact of such efforts.

Content distribution can be tricky. The traditional linear model of interaction doesn’t cut it anymore, so publishers need to consider many more variables to keep up with the ever-growing reader expectations. That’s why you need publisher playbooks,  which are key messages and optimisation techniques tied to specific user actions. 

In 2020, retaining your audience should be your number one priority

This is a proven engagement process that gets automatically triggered – it is particularly efficient with form abandonment, snippet abandonment, chat update, new content alert, daily or weekly digest, and much more.

While publisher playbooks can help you increase the impact of your content, you still need to program emails and notifications. When doing so, the golden rule is to focus on frequency and ace the timing. For example, make sure to take time zones into consideration; no one wants to receive the daily weather forecast when the day is already ending.

In 2020, retaining your audience should be your number one priority. By actively working towards this goal, you will feel in greater control of your activities and guarantee that your work and content actually get the attention they deserve.

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By Shrikant R Kale, the co-founder of iZooto - an owned audience marketing platform that helps publishers build, engage, and retain their audience using web push notifications. An IIM-C product, he is looked up to for his dedication and calm demeanour. This passionate bike-lover can be easily spotted in the office 24/7 (almost!).

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