Driving digital subscriptions with better customer relationships April 25, 2017 by Jamie Beckland CRM, media In an uncertain business landscape, media companies must reposition themselves to drive digital subscriptions. While the main goal of these companies is creating and building a solid digital edition of their latest publications, these companies must also ensure they are boosting subscriptions by acquiring new audiences. Digital subscriptions are the new norm While media outlets cover a wide range of content types, the route news organizations took in implementing digital subscriptions serves as a best practice for this particular strategy’s growth trajectory. It may seem surprising that renewed focus on digital subscriptions is a fairly recent phenomenon. In the past few years, many media companies have made the jump from free to gated content. This might have been unfathomable just a few short years ago, with many major news outlets publishing op-eds on how disruptive the move would be, but the data tells the full story. For instance, of the 98 papers examined by the American Press Institute with circulations over 50,000, 77 of them had some form of digital subscription plan in place in 2015. Perhaps most important to note though: 71 of these digital subscription plans started within the past five years. With approximately 78 percent of U.S. newspapers now employing a digital subscription model, clearly publishers’ original hesitancy has abated. While it’s taken some time for customers to accept, if not fully embrace, the digital subscription model for news organizations, the fact is this pricing structure is here to stay. One need look no further than Netflix, HBO Go and other streaming content sites to see this is the case. However, rolling out a digital subscription model is only the first step. Marketing and customer service departments must ensure they’re implementing strategies that engage consumers and further drive people to sign up and remain members. As adoption of digital subscription business models grows, one directive stands out the most: improve customer relationships. Simple fix-it’s won’t suffice In an effort to keep customers interested and loyal, companies have employed other tactics to boost digital subscriptions. The New York Times, for instance, recently partnered with Spotify to offer one-year online subscribers unlimited access to the music streaming site’s premium service. London-based publisher The Times attempted a different approach to boosting digital subscriptions by offering a weekly payment structure in addition to their typical monthly package, according to Digiday. The company sees this as an entry-level subscription product that it hopes will bolster more long-term engagement and subscriptions. Although these added rewards and pricing options might provide the initial incentive to spur a few new subscribers, they are largely short-term plays that will do little to nurture sustained growth or maintain longer-term customer relationships. Identity is key for boosting customer relationships The question then becomes: how do companies improve customer lifecycle management? The simple answer is through better customer identity and access management (CIAM) to empower personalization engines to work better which builds a sense of loyalty to the publisher. A CIAM solution provides the tools necessary for media companies to boost engagement with their audiences. This bolstered customer relationship ultimately leads these individuals and their online activity back to the company’s digital properties. Consider these benefits a CIAM solution offers for improving customer satisfaction and driving digital subscriptions: Boosting customer engagement Keeping individuals interested and returning to the content publisher requires a diligent digital approach. A CIAM solutions gives media companies the power to create an interactive user experience through the use of commenting, live chat, polls, and ratings and reviews. Letting users offer their insights and display their enthusiasm on digital publications sparks real-time conversations and drives customer engagement with the site. In addition, a CIAM solution provides media companies with the data they need to see which activities drive the most site registrations and customer engagement. With this information at their disposal, media companies can then tailor and curate their site to further improve customer engagement. Streamlining social media connections Most of us use social media, be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or something else, on a daily basis. Being able to leverage social media channels goes a long way to enhancing customer experiences. A CIAM solution lets media and entertainment companies leverage the various social media accounts customers already have in place, creating a seamless experience. For instance, individuals don’t want to fill out new applications, slog through a signup process and remember yet another password. This can create a major barrier to customer engagement and may impede a prospective new subscriber. Instead, through social login, individuals have the ability to log in using their favorite social media site, making the signup process seamless and as easy as a simple click. Further, with diverse content spread across various social media platforms, it can be difficult to curate a more personalized customer experience. A CIAM solution, however, lets companies collect valuable data from social networks and other third-party identities, which gives media companies the ability to segment their audience and create more personalized engagement strategies. Gaining greater customer insights While CIAM data can be used to build a more engaging experience for publishers’ existing customers, it can also provide data crucial to acquiring new users. Perhaps one of the biggest drivers of better customer relationships is creating a content experience specific to the individual. This means it’s become incumbent upon media companies to use the data at their disposal to craft a tailored approach for their customers. A CIAM solution lets these companies segment their customer profiles based on any demographic, psychographic or behavioral attributes stored in the system. The right platform displays all of this crucial data in a reporting dashboard and in rich, customizable reports. With access to these granular analytics, marketers can create more personalized experiences for their customers, which boosts engagements and, ultimately, drives digital subscriptions. Truly competing in today’s digital landscape requires partnering with a CIAM vendor that can provide the crucial customer insight and engagement tools necessary for improving customer relationships and boosting digital subscriptions. This article was originally published by the Talking New Media.