The media and publishing industry is an evolving one, shifting from old-school print to new-school digital media. In this transition, publishers are confronted by two important business imperatives. First, they need to be able to leverage the revenue from their print media to fund their transformation into the digital world. Second, they need to ensure their customers’ digital experience helps drive customer loyalty in the form of subscriptions and repeat visits. Publishers can look to customer experience management principles to help them in the transition process.
If Content is King, Customer Experience (CX) is Queen
A recent study found that by 2016, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, vs 36% four years ago. In the media and publishing industry, content may be still be king, but publishers are benefiting greatly from understanding and managing their customers’ overall experience. Researchers found that, while content quality of magazines was positively related to subscription rates, customer satisfaction (e.g., magazine’s appearance) was also positively related to subscription rates.
Many different features of the publications may have a significant impact on whether or not customers subscribe, including price, delivery speed, editor’s reputation, cover page, paper quality, journalists, range of information and the presentation of subjects. No single factor plays an exclusive role in determining whether a reader becomes a subscriber or continues their subscription. Additionally, in an excellent piece on the media and publishing industry, a Gartner analyst, Augie Ray, points out why customer experience needs to be a priority in the publication world. In his diatribe against a particular publisher, he discusses how his poor experience lead him to never visit the site again. In his attempt to simply read an article, he was bombarded with pop-up ads, videos and an overlaid mailing list subscription form, each interfering with his reading experience. He never read the article and stated he would never visit the site again.
Customer Experience Management (CXM) in the Publishing World
Customer Experience Management is the process of understanding and managing customers’ interactions with and perceptions about your company or brand. The goal of any CXM program is to deliver the right experience to customers in order to optimize customer loyalty. In the media and publishing industry, customer loyalty equates to recommendations, subscription purchases/renewals and repeat visits, helping publishers grow through both new and existing customers. The key to increasing customer loyalty, then, is to understand what your customers think about you as well as how they are interacting with your company or brand. We know that companies that are better able to integrate attitudinal and behavioral measures about their customers outperform companies that do not.
Having a 360 degree view of their customers, publishers are better able to optimize different types of customer loyalty because they simply know more about their customers (e.g., the source of the traffic, most visited pages, most clicked ads) and the reasons that drive their subscriptions and repeat visits. Our CX approach at Appuri is a data-driven endeavor that helps companies integrate their data silos and uncover insights through the application of machine learning and predictive modeling capabilities. Knowing more about your customers is an exercise in leveraging all the customer metrics and determining how they are related to each other, ultimately helping you build better, more comprehensive, predictive models of customer loyalty. When publishers integrate their data silos, they can ask and answer bigger questions about their customers:
- What stories earn the most from readers, and why?
- What story length is optimal to grow readership and revenue?
- How many readers (%) of online digital media prefer to read ad-free?
Using the earlier Gartner example, the publisher could connect the dots of all data sources to quantify the impact of different types of predictors (e.g., pop-up ads, sign-ups, customer satisfaction) on important criteria such as abandonment rates and subscription renewal rates. This type of knowledge helps publishers make well-informed decisions on where to invest and improve their products in order to maximize the impact on customer loyalty and engagement, leading to revenue growth.
Success in the media and publication industry is not only driven by giving customers great content, but also by giving customers an exceptional customer experience across all facets of the customer life cycle. By connecting all customer data and efficiently interrogating those data, publishers are better able to uncover insights that drive subscription rates, click-throughs, referrals and more.
The digital disruption is occurring across all industries, especially in media and publication. While the full adoption toward the digital endpoint is inevitable, publishers still need to manage the transition from print to digital. How they accomplish this transformation can mean the difference between survival and extinction.