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Advertisers buy audiences, time for publishers to experiment with new tools and ideas

think different

Marketing automation allows publishers to create a personalized experience for their audience.

The word ‘du jour’ is engagement. Everyone wants to engage the audience and persuade readers to like, share and comment on what they’ve read across multiple platforms. Advertisers like it. It helps them validate their purchasing decisions.

A recent article by the American Press Institute, said “Publishers are traditionally used to selling advertisers space in their publications. But that model is working less and less as advertisers stop buying publications and start buying audiences.”

All this means is that you need to keep finding new ways to keep your audience on your site and give them reasons to return. The best way to do this, of course, is to make sure all your content really matters, and the easiest way to achieve that goal is to offer a personalized experience.

Using automation to increase subscription rates and re-engage readers with waning interest

Successful automation programs in the publishing sector include:

  • Moving from free trial to paid subscriptions: According to SAP Hybris, a free-trial subscriber starts to go cold after 90 minutes. It’s essential to get that first welcome email out as soon as they click the subscribe button. Using email automation to keep in touch throughout the free trial period increases the conversion to paid subscriber, it provided a 33% increase for iGaming Business.
  • Nurture programs: Email programs that nurture can help you build credibility and rapport with your audience, set expectations, communicate benefits, and keep your organization ‘top-of-mind’. By helping subscribers get the most of their purchase, you make them stickier.
  • Re-engagement programs: The key thing with re-engagement programs is to remind subscribers why they were attracted to you in the first place. Segment your subscribers by their actions and create compelling content that is surprising and different (but still on brand) to entice them to remain engaged. Personalized promotional codes are also effective for turning cold contacts hot again.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples

c+d-re-engagement-emailEmail engagement strategies helped C+D boost their audience and increase advertising revenue by 29%

Specialist multimedia publisher C+D became concerned that a significant proportion of their database had not opened or clicked for some time. So they focused on finding ways to encourage existing subscribers to rediscover their initial interest in C+D’s content and reconnect with the newsletters.

Key things that made this campaign a success:

  • Paying attention the metrics to aid content development decisions.
  • New design templates so readers would have new experiences.
  • Careful testing to discover optimal times for sending.
  • Automated list segmentation to those who had been inactive for six months, and returned to the active list if they re-engaged.

C+D saw dramatically improved open rates, reaching 32% and higher, and a 15% increase of their active subscriber base.

Personalized book recommendations from Penguin

penguin-segmentationPenguin Random House wanted to use marketing automation to drive engagement and brand loyalty among readers, generate more sales of new and backlist titles, and gain insight into buyer preferences and behavior so they re-created a personalized bookshop experience via email. Subscribers were invited to take part in a short survey about their preferred reading genres and habits. Six buyer profiles were created and then once a month, subscribers were sent an email, segmented by their buyer profile.

Key things that made this campaign a success:

  • Readers were offered titles, including ‘undiscovered gems’ based on their profile.
  • The audience was segmented by their reading preferences, rather than say, age or geographic location.
  • Penguin used affiliate links to measure actual sales resulting from the campaign.

Penguin saw an exceptional 59% average open rate over the lifecycle of the project.

Marketing automation programs deliver results and valuable audience data

If it’s more engagement you want, then clearly automation is a good way to go. To take your automation campaigns on to the next level, here are a few things to consider:

  • Analyze everything: It’s not just about numbers, think about what your numbers mean. Give your analytics context and look at them as a way to direct you towards creating useful content your audience wants to read.
  • Meaningful demographic information: If your business model needs to get advertisers or sponsors on board, consider pairing your demographics with interest profiles. E.g., “Women, aged 18-24 are interested in our articles about clean eating and starting a business.”
  • Personalize your marketing automation sequences: From the examples of Future Publishing and Penguin Books, we can see that by making the effort to personalize email marketing content, engagement and click through rates increased dramatically.

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  • Elaine Mershon

    Really useful things here…and will be super to share with my publisher prospects.