A subscription eco-system has a wide range of components which need to be understood to help media organisations carefully plan their tactics and implement a successful digital monetisation strategy. I refer to these as a list of eleven checkpoints to cover pre-implementation.

In this final part I look at the new opportunities to help build a continuously evolving digital monetisation ecosystem.

✔ Step 9: Empathise with your readers – be more than just a brand name

The emotions your brand conjures are worth paying attention to, as they may play a pivotal role in increasing revenues. There is a time when every publication should show empathy towards the public – whether they are subscribers or not. Giving up the meter for articles covering natural hazards or presidential elections brings you closer to your readers.

A simple example message from the New York Times, which suspended its meter during Hurricane Sandy:

The gateway has been removed from the entire site and all apps. The plan is to keep it that way until the weather emergency is over – New York Times Spokesperson, Eileen Murphy

The effect of these few simple words? A sense of a company philosophy that relates to the human need for community, a humble personality that stands out from other attempts at corporate branding and imagery.

✔ Step 10: Analyse and Adapt: responding to circumstances in an agile fashion

Monetisation StrategiesEvery marketer knows the importance of tracking a campaign. This helps you make changes on the move and adapt to customer needs around real-time response and interaction. The stronger your brand and reputation, the more likely your customers will pay for the content you produce and the experience you create for them.

Identity Management and Social Sign On are two of the tools Evolok’s clients have used to understand more about their audience’s reactions.

Evolok provides an admin console that allows clients with even a little technical experience to make the changes they need within a secure browser.

✔ Step 11: Innovate: evolve the Eco-system

Innovation should never stop in the field of digital monetisation strategies. Language, events, videos, gamification strategies – they should all contribute to a stronger monetisation strategy.

                        Language

If your publication is written in English then offer a different monetisation experience for your international readers. Make sure your customers receive a uniquely tailored experience once on your website, making them more likely to return, log in, register and then become consumers.

                        Events

Is your newspaper located in a city like London/NY/Paris? Then make the best use of what these cosmopolitan cities have to offer: events at an international scale.

Events have always been a good PR tool for artists and other brands so why shouldn’t a newspaper benefit from them as well? They are a perfect way of bringing people together, start a debate and move it online.

                        Gamification Strategies & Videos

Adding gamification strategies and videos to your offering creates more of an experience and increases your chances for greater revenue.

The digital space has a wealth of opportunities for all of us; it’s just a matter of how you use them.

I’ve been skeptical about digital subscription models for a long time, but I’m turning into a believer. – Matthew Yglesias

Conclusions

With more than 350 publications in the USA and an increasing number in Europe implementing a subscription model, 2013 has definitely been the year of the subscriptions.

We have seen the NYT circulation revenue rise by 6.5%, Herald Tribune subscribers up about 5% and The Telegraph maintaining its position as the UK’s third most popular national newspaper website. We have however, also seen the Hollywood tabloid Variety dropping their subscription model.

Ken Doctor, a news industry analyst and the author of Newsonomics: Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News You Get, predicts paywall programmes will bring in $300m overall this year and help nationwide sales revenues get back above $10bn.

So what conclusion can we draw from what has been happening in the publishing arena this year?

Technology can save businesses only if we use it proactively and not reactively. As Brian Solis says in his new book, What is The Future of Business:

Change is all anyone talks about today and we all know that talk is cheap. We also know that change is inevitable and that it is rarely easy. Among the greatest difficulties associated with change is the ability to recognize that change is needed at a time when we can actually do something about it. All too often, by the time we realize that change is needed and that we must shift to a new way of thinking, it is already too late. Or worse, competitors recognize the need for change before us, and we are by default pushed into a position where our next steps are impulsive or reactive rather than strategic.

Should you have any views on the matter that or feel that I have omitted any points, please share your opinion with me. I would be happy to hear back from you.

NB: Please note that the list presented here is not exhaustive and does not necessarily need to be followed in the same order by every company. If you want to continue the debate about subscription models the Evolok team are inviting you at our stand at the WAN-IFRA World Publishing Expo2013 in Berlin, from 7-9 October.

 

Ana-Maria Leonte, Digital Marketing Executive

Ana-Maria Leonte