By: Peter Marsh, Vice President Marketing

INMA held its Consumer Engagement Summit in Miami, FL, Nov 8-9, and our VP of Marketing, Peter Marsh, was there to learn the latest on how news media companies are striving to find, cultivate and retain readers. Here are 11 takeaways you should know:

  1. Membership has its privileges. Media companies around the world are changing the definition of subscription to include a constantly expanding set of value-added membership programs, with extra benefits and privileges.
  2. It’s personal. Most publishers around the world are looking to switch their current paywall models to one that offers greater personalization and more functionality (e.g. freemium options, strict metering, porous metering, lock-downs, etc.)
  3. Beware price comparisons. The baseline price for digital-only and bundled print-digital subscriptions varies widely around the world. The ratio of digital to print subscribers is equally diverse.
  4. Data, data, data! O Globo in Brazil has adopted a dynamic paywall model that is data-driven. The number of free articles shown to a reader is limited according to that reader’s behavior.
    In addition, every O Globo journalist knows how his or her article has scored based on its readership performance. This helps the newsroom understand what subjects, styles and content work for their readers.
  5. Invest in analysis. USA Today has embedded a team of audience analysts in their newsrooms to analyze the performance of every piece of content so that journalists can “stop doing things readers don’t want.”
  6. Engaged readers are loyal readers. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found that actively engaged audiences are happier – and three times more likely to renew their subscriptions.
  7. Investing in Artificial Intelligence is a smart move. The Times of London is focused on personalization. Their digital concierge, JAMES, uses AI-driven technology to help readers find the most value from the content they consume. It also helps improve retention by automatically reaching out to lapsed readers.
  8. Know your metrics. Aftenposten relies on data to help boost subscriptions. The newsroom is responsible for identifying content with the highest engagement and conversion rates, based on usefulness, uniqueness, human touch, valuable services, and personal relationships.
  9. Personalized newsletters boost engagement. By personalizing their newsletters and focusing on direct audience engagement, the New York Times has doubled newsletter subscriptions and is consistently achieving a 35% average unique open rate.
  10. You can determine who will subscribe. Dagens Nyheter uses machine learning to identify subscribers most likely to convert into loyal payment methods. Every subscriber gets a score based on level of engagement and loyalty, age, gender and the channel of conversion. As a result, last year DN’s digital reader revenue increased by 92% and the newspaper now has 153,000 digital only subscribers.
  11. The power of habit is strong. The Wall Street Journal’s Habit Project is based around one metric: If a member does action X, do they stay longer? The newsroom is challenged to always do/write things that encourage readers to come back. The ultimate goal of the project (the “habit”) is that the reader will die a happy WSJ subscriber.