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Hugo Vint Sales Director, EMEA OtherLevels

Why Should Digital Publishers Invest in Smarter Messaging?

Digital publishers in 2016 are facing a challenging business environment, in which the customer (or reader) is always king… even if that customer doesn’t pay for content. To succeed in the rapidly growing online media landscape, publishers put their audiences first – with a priority focus on delivering high-quality content that readers will value. 

But with 78.4% of digital publishers offering some form of free content, monetisation remains a challenge across the sector (even as more and more publishers enter the space). Even with excellent content, killer branding, and a smart revenue model, engaging new and existing customers is no easy feat for digital publishers of any size or reach.

In today’s competitive online marketing environment, digital publishers must look outside of audience growth to scale their businesses over time (no matter how great their content). In 2016 and beyond, growth requires stronger focus on retention, engagement, and loyalty – and that requires a comprehensive approach to digital messaging.

Using data beyond development

In digital publishing – as in virtually every industry – it’s far more cost-effective to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones. But across various online markets, 44% of companies have a greater focus on customer acquisition (versus just 18 percent placing a higher priority on retention).

Digital publishers largely have a leg up on stakeholders in other industries thanks to their branding, advertising, and marketing savvy. Most publishers have sophisticated infrastructures behind their platforms helping them attract new advertisers, monitor reader engagement trends, acquire high-value data for a variety of purposes – ranging from content analytics to site development. 

But unless they leverage user data to deliver personalised communications and targeted marketing offers to existing users, digital publishers are neglecting one of their most impactful avenues for driving engagement, earning conversions, and growing their revenue. 

Through an upgraded digital messaging strategy, one leading online platform in the UK saw a 75% increase in activity among active users, and seized a 300% increase in revenue per 1,000 push messages sent. Key to the company’s success: Using comprehensive customer profiling to hit customers with the right content, on the right channel, at the right time.

Digital messaging can be a two-way street for data collection: Publishers can acquire high-value intel on what readers (do and don’t) engage with, use that information to provide them custom content, and deliver better and more targeted offers to loyal customers over time – helping publishers earn stronger retention rates as a result of an always-on investment in customer engagement. 

But for that cycle to work, publishers need to be able to fine-tune their marketing approach to meet customers’ preferences at an individual level. And that kind of personalisation is about more than welcome screens and browsing histories; it’s also about which channel the end user likes to engage with – be it email, SMS, browser push,  pop-up’s, push notifications, rich inbox, or otherwise – and at what time.

The right vendor partner can help digital publishers reach a greater proportion of their addressable audience, even up to 100 percent of their audience by using customer profiling to decide in real time which messaging channel the recipient is most likely to engage with and deliver a message on that channel at the optimal moment automatically.  

Ultimately, putting your audience first isn’t just about delivering high-quality content – it’s also about knowing what they want, based on their individual preferences and engagement data, and giving it to them through targeted content. Addressing an individual user on the channel they prefer is the hard part for publishers. From there, digital messaging is the optimal way to capture greater loyalty long-term.