Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Create a daily focus on watchdog reporting — renewing your newsroom’s sense of purpose and growing your digital audience.
Funnel occasional users to habitual and paying loyalistsSubscribe to Updates Guide your audience through the stages of a “funnel:” from random/occasional use, to increasing use, to habitual use, to paying for your content/products/services – and to valuing your brand and content enough to recommend it to others. Use the same step-by-step funnel approach to maximize value you get from advertising as well as any other ways you earn revenue from users/customers. Do this through the focused use of data and analytics, technology, content and platform tactics, multiple types and approaches of “offers” and “asks,” and continuous testing.
Big Picture A primer on why news organizations must funnel occasional users to habitual and paying loyalists
Only the newsroom (in collaboration with technology and tool-building colleagues) can attract and retain audiences that pay for content and are desired by advertisers. No one else can do this.
Plan Understand the gaps in your news organization and how to close them
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Focusing on newsletter subscriber acquisition will increase your digital subscriptions and donations to help fund your newsroom and editorial projects.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: The Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, N.Y., is attracting new readers in the area’s nine most diverse ZIP codes by transforming its storytelling and moving its engagement into long-overlooked neighborhoods.
What gaps do you have in using audience funnel discipline? Take this quick assessment to find out.
In order to overcome them, first understand the barriers to success in funneling occasional users to habitual and paying loyalists.
A quick grid showing the FROM > TO view of success in funneling occasional users to habitual and paying loyalists.
Through setting goals for each stage of the funnel and monitoring results, you will discover what steps work best for the audiences you seek to serve and the revenue and financial goals you wish to achieve.
Do Actions to close the gap
To hold onto loyal readers, particularly those who read the print edition, encourage them to activate their digital access to your content including the eEdition, which often has more content than your print edition.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: If you want to maximize your digital subscription growth, you must have a focused plan on not only how to grow your subscriber base, but also how to retain and improve the engagement and loyalty of your current subscribers.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Refocus your community coverage to build trust and cultivate new, diverse audiences — growing subscriptions along the way.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Prioritize digital subscribers over page views, and provide subscriber-only stories on topics that are vital and unique to your community.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Newsday is driving digital subscriptions and engagement with targeted newsletters.
Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the KPCC-LAist newsroom has invited questions from its audience. Nearly 4,000 people have written in. More than half of them have opted into newsletters, and nearly all have received a personal answer.
This research from the Lenfest Institute and The Shorenstein Center illustrates best practices in digital subscription, focusing on the finer points of applying funnel discipline and implementing tools like paywalls and pay meters. The result is a playbook full of tactics to adapt, regardless of a news organization’s size or familiarity with reader revenue.
These detailed case studies from Digital Content Next and the Lenfest Institute explore the finer points of successful metering and revenue-driving calls to action for Tribune Media, Slate, and The Guardian.
Gwen Vargo from API rounds up examples of well-converting offer pages to demonstrate how their design influences trust and encourages conversion. Design choices at this important stage in the funnel can make or break subscription rates.
This study by the Medill Center at Northwestern University re-centers the importance of local content in encouraging daily news consumption, which the massive data project shows is the most likely predictor of subscription and retention. As simple as it seems, this change represents a dramatic reorientation of the KPI’s for news organizations pivoting from ad-based to reader-supported models.
The first step in executing on audience funnel discipline is to learn what the funneling approach is and how each step in the audience funnel is defined in terms of actions and objectives.
Segmentation means dividing a broad group of your audience into sub-groups who have shared characteristics. Identifying the unique needs and interests of a different audience segment is enormously helpful to moving those segments through the funnel.
You must embrace a continuous cycle of test-and-learn. Here are steps you can take at each stage of a funnel to systematically move users to deeper levels of engagement.
Identify ways to seed/earn/increase revenue at each stage of the funnel, from the first stage to the last, while shaping/using different funnels for different purposes.
You must conduct well-designed experiments that help move users through the funnel.
Users can (and often do) skip stages of the funnel, move backward, or move through the funnel at various paces.