The fight to stabilize newspaper revenue continues. While advertising inflows continue to disappoint, publishers turn to reader revenue to right the ship. Reducing customer effort, frustration AND improving consumer value across three core segments improve retention levels.

Due to this week’s Independence Day holiday, we’re publishing this week’s #FunIdeaFriday a few days early. Even marketers need a holiday, too.

Let’s face it. We all have lots of data. Lots of consumer data. We have data in our classified systems, our circulation systems, census data, 3rd party data, and data in advertising systems.

Most of us, however, don’t employ data scientists to make sense of it all. The push for big information and AI is on. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We need to begin with the understanding of what drives our consumer business. This week’s #FunIdeaFriday is a segmentation strategy to make the most of customers that matter the most. And you won’t need a data scientist to take advantage of it.

New subscribers, at-risk subscribers, and core subscribers hold tremendous value. When we elevate our brand to them, it pays dividends in the form of greater retention levels and consumer revenue.

Critical Segment #1- New Subscribers

This one is obvious, hopefully. We need to take better care of our newest subscribers. Regardless of your circulation system, your team should be able to extract the data you need to create this segment. The focus on this segment answers the question, ‘How do you want your new subscribers to feel?‘ Warmly welcomed, informed about full benefits of membership, and how to join the community. This is the “moment” to make the best introduction and impression of your brand.

What goal do you have with this segment? If your acquisition aspirations are to ‘hit a number’ of starts every month, then who is taking care of your newest customers? It’s up to ten times more expensive to acquire a customer than to keep them (and keep them happy).

Segment Checklist

  • Onboard success includes online and offline communication.
  • Start by just saying, “Thank you!” Send a thank you card. You will surprise and delight with this one.
  • The subscription or membership includes multiple levels of value. Sell all the value during the onboard process: e-edition, news apps, newsletters, and your rewards network.
  • Develop a cadence of communication within the first 14 days of the start transaction.
  • Go deep, go digital! On post-stop surveys this author conducted, a common reason to quit has been around digital. Either too difficult to register or sign in, or just unaware of the benefit.
  • Ask your new subscribers how you’re doing. Make sure you’re keeping up your end of the deal. Fixing delivery problems today creates long term customers.
  • Offer monthly tours of your newsroom. In a young newspaper relationship, this is the best way to earn trust by debunking myths and bias around news.

Critical Segment #2- Core Subscribers

The core segment is your bread and butter. They hold tremendous future revenue value. Also, they hold present revenue value since they have been through a number of rate increases and upgrades, attend your events, and are your advertisers’ audience. This is the money segment.

They can’t be taken for granted, however. It is not a given that they will renew when their term is up. You have to work hard every day to assure your core subscribers that sticking with you has meaning in their lives.

Segment Checklist

  • Look at your All Access penetration rate. If it’s not above 60%, then appeal to your core subscribers to activate.
  • Your core subscribers want you to succeed. Ask them for their participation in frequent round tables and newspaper town hall meetings.
  • E-edition- they love it! Now you can do more than ever before with your e-edition.
  • Invite them to enjoy more of your news services by providing them bi-weekly content curated just for them. Help them connect with the content that matters to them. Watch your engagement grow.
  • Add frequent polls and surveys. Be sure you understand if your sentiment is improving or declining with this segment. If you don’t ask them, you won’t know for sure.
  • Newsletters, pod casts, your news app, and multi-media features should be used to connect with your core subscriber segment. Increase their participation and you will improve your retention within this group.
  • Most of all, make it easy for them to activate their rewards account, e-edition, or All Access. Provide tutorial videos or explainer articles. They’ll love you for this.

Critical Segment #3- At-Risk Subscribers

Subscribers do leave. It’s a fact of life. But you hold the data to look into the future and predict which customers are most likely to leave. Sound daunting? It’s not as bad as you think. If you don’t want to identify members of this segment yourself, consider using outside help to populate churn scores back into your database.

Once you’re able to identify and target customers of highest flight risk, you are able to create specialized communication for that group.

Segment Checklist

  • To make an impression, use offline channels and send a personalized thank you card from the Editor.
  • Provide advanced notice of renewal, along with a request for their comments on how to improve your service.
  • Show them now what they mean to you. Create a “Surprise and Delight” experience.
  • Before they renew, send segment members a ‘Tell us about your delivery service‘ poll
  • Make a quick personal call, which means the most if it comes from a senior manager, like publisher or editor or a member of your executive committee.
  • Never too late to acquaint them with all their membership has to offer: newsletter, apps, e-edition, rewards, All  Access.

Rekindling customer relationships within key segments is a smart way to grow. Your data will lead you. Provide your team with the leadership, tools, and resources to make “customer marketing” an every day priority.

Relationship marketing is one of the most under developed, under resourced, and under invested areas in newspapers today. Effectively delivering consumer revenue is complex. Specialized communication to each of your three critical segments is a must. We understand that to do this effectively, it requires skills and capabilities not often found today. Through downsizing and consolidation, our news industry is smaller than ever before. But it’s more important than ever to communicate and market to active customers.

We’re Local News ROI and we’re here to help. We calibrate the funnel from reader to customer to loyal customer. A small improvement in customer churn can impact revenue well into six figures, even for a small- or mid-sized newspaper. Let’s talk!

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