Developing a growth strategy for news readerships and revenue has been a growing problem for countless news media groups. Many media outlets just are not sure how to grow digital news readership. This year, the publishing world is looking at a recovery of the news industry that is trying to bounce back from the disruption caused by the pandemic. Journalists, publishers, and readers alike report feeling ‘burnt-out’ by the sheer intensity of the news cycle along with the polarized nature of current politics. News publishers and journalists will have to regroup and deliberately focus on what stories are the most valuable to their readership.
Grow Your Publisher Readership & Revenue
Beyond this, in the wake of 2021, many news outlets are struggling. Audiences are simply ditching the information that is not reliable or accurate. Reasonably so, considering that the information being reported on needs to be credible now that a reader’s personal health and safety are at risk. Because of this dip, a major challenge for the news media this year is trying to re-engage readers who have turned away from news. Not only this, news outlets are also working to build deeper relationships with more regular news consumers to keep them returning. This is why knowing the best strategies for promoting revenue growth and reader retention is crucial if a publisher is looking to not only survive this year but profit from it as well. Here is how to grow digital news readership effectively and confidently.
Publishers looking to grow their readership and revenue need to turn a critical eye towards their brand awareness strategies. It is important to develop a clear and concise brand awareness strategy so that actionable steps can be taken. The main aim behind every brand awareness strategy should be to grow customers and revenue while establishing brand recognition in the target market. Without brand awareness as a foundation for growth, it will be an uphill battle for publishers to see growth in readership and revenue.
While every publisher seems to utilize a subscription model of some sort, most are not going all in on a subscription strategy. The main reason is that most news outlets see a need for diverse revenue streams. According to the Reuters Institute’s publication “Journalism, media, and technology trends and predictions 2022.” The majority of publishers report that three or four different revenue streams will be important or very important this year.
What’s more, almost three in 10 (29%) expect to get significant revenue from tech platforms for content licensing or innovation, with 15% looking into philanthropic funds and foundations. Others are hoping to restart events that stalled during the COVID-19 crisis. With many publishers concerned over having all their eggs in one subscription based basket, many are choosing to diversify revenue streams by putting out different types of digital content and are looking to monetize off of other digital platforms, such as their social media channels.
Monetizing a news website is one of the most crucial steps to growing revenue. Without proper monetization practices news sites will simply not earn profit. Monetizing a news website can be as simple as setting up Google Adsense or implementing paywalls and subscriptions.
With website monetization, it is helpful for publishers to pick a monetization model for their site. Once this is decided, it is easier to build a revenue strategy based on a publisher’s choice. Publishers can choose to monetize any of their content from user generated content to premium articles.
When implementing monetization publishers need to have a solid strategy. Without one, it will be difficult to direct traffic to a site and even more difficult to profit from it. With proper strategies in place, publishers can maximize the amount of web traffic they have coming into their site and service this traffic with targeted ads, products and more. Publishers can even leverage subscription and paywall models as part of their overall strategy.
The largest challenge when it comes to publisher monetization is generating enough traffic to profit from. This is why having both paid and organic growth strategies geared towards broadening readership is crucial. Another important consideration for publishers is determining how to keep readers returning to a site. The more loyal readers a publisher has the better their chances of long term sustainable revenue.
Digital audiences and news publishers everywhere are no stranger to premium content. This model of content creation has grown exponentially. Premium content tends to meet the needs of modern and savvy readers. With a push for not only accurate content but also quality content, the creation of premium content skyrocketed. Premium content is meant to push traffic and turn a profit by creating content that is insightful, exclusive, and not readily available. Most sites entice users to pay for premium content by providing free (but lesser quality) content as a hook. Another tactic is to allow a preview of the premium content. With this, a viewer can only see a paragraph or two of an article, and they have to pay to unlock the rest. The main benefit of premium content is that it can take many forms and branch out into multiple different content areas.
Premium content can be any of the following:
With so many formats of premium content, there is something for everyone. The wide array of this type of content offers publishers a unique opportunity to bundle products to increase revenue. For example, a news outlet could offer a news subscription as a promotion and offer a month of free access to their site’s podcast. This gives readers the chance to explore other content types and perhaps subscribe to them later.
With premium content in high demand, media outlets need to be certain they can meet the cost of producing this content and still come away with revenue. In order to profit from this type of content news media outlets have turned to installing paywalls and subscriptions. In fact, before the pandemic an average of 70% of the leading newspapers had a paywall in place.
In essence, subscriptions and paywalls are the monetary exchange between publishers and their readership. That being said, not all paywalls require users to pay with money. Some encourage readers to whitelist or bookmark a page for further use. Digital publishers can even allow free access to a particular article if a user provides their email address. The purpose of this is to later send promotional emails to encourage a particular reader to come back for more content. Even more, the price of an article can be personal data exchange, and even free advertisement for the press.
Subscriptions are similar in that they have a user pay a given amount to receive access for a certain period of time before charging again. Many digital publishers have seen success with a subscription model. The NY Times reached 7.5 million subscribers in 2020. What’s more is that the NY Times jumped to 8.5 million subscribers in 2021 and brought in $50 million in revenue from digital subscribers alone.
Having a conversion strategy is a crucial element to maximize readership and revenue. If visitors are coming to a news site but not taking a desired action, then perhaps it is time to adjust a conversion strategy. A conversion marketing strategy includes the appropriate tactics to make the most of the existing traffic on a website by optimizing its key elements to push a target audience into completing an action. The best way to boost conversion rates is to utilize crowd tracking tools to analyze a readership’s behavior and adjust accordingly.
Leveraging user experience data by collecting it in a survey is one way to see if a platform is optimized to a reader’s liking. Using heat maps is another way to track audience behavior. Essentially, heat maps offer a visual representation of a given visitors’ interaction with a site. It charts elements that draw their attention, those that distract them, and, therefore, help a publisher understand a plethora of insights on user behavior. There are different types of heat maps that can be used depending on what data is being searched for. For instance, click maps display real-time data on the most and least-clicked sections on a webpage so one can see the critical action areas and make tweaks to the design and content accordingly. Scroll maps, on the other hand, tell a publisher what point on their website visitors are scrolling, so that action items like CTA’s or banners can be placed where it will attract the most attention. No matter which one is used, the goal is to find the correct tool to boost a given strategy so that maximum revenue and retention can be gained.
Email newsletters are one of the best digital ways to build a loyal and engaged readership who will continue to use a product. When audience members are converted to paying supporters it is best to keep them engaged with a biweekly or monthly newsletter. There are multiple ways to have readers not only sign up for newsletters, but to open them and engage with them.
One of the ways to encourage an audience is to offer challenges in a newsletter. It requires a reader to take action in order to better some part of their lives. Many publishers push their readership to do an offline activity and report back to the news outlet in a survey form for accountability.
Email newsletters also can include micro-series in which small stories or segments can be detailed in the newsletter. This serves as a form of exclusive content for a subscribed reader. Email newsletters are also an excellent place to include sponsored content or ads. This is where the revenue comes in. While newsletters are a great way to push news subscriptions and deals, placing ads and collecting click revenue from them is another way publishers can diversify their revenue streams and make extra.
There are countless methods to choose from when researching how to grow digital news readership. With the push for a cookieless future, higher quality content, and accuracy in reporting, it is more important than ever to meet audience needs.
Not only this, but publishers need to be aware of their own budget and production capacity. This is why knowing the best strategies for growing digital news readership and revenue is crucial for 2022 and beyond. To learn more about the latest publishing trends, subscription models and more head to Invisibly’s blog page.
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