As part of our new blog series focused on the media industry, we’re looking at key areas to help publications and organisations survive in today’s digital arena. In our last article, we explored ad blockers and how media companies can work around the challenges they present. Next up is audience retention!
Part 2: Techniques for retaining online visitors
The second article in our blog series looks at ways media organisations and companies can work to retain customers and incentivise them to remain loyal to a site. What’s the best way to measure visitor loyalty and retention? How can media content producers reduce the impact of the churn rate and boost audience value over the long term?
It’s well known that retaining an existing audience is far less costly than acquiring or converting a new one. Acquisition expenses can chew straight through marketing and advertising budgets. Keeping hold of your old customers on the other hand is a far more lucrative approach – a 5% increase in retention can increase profits by up to 95%.
What is customer retention? – in 100 words…
Customer retention can be divided into three sub categories. Classic retention, also known as Day N or Retention by Day for an app or a website, is the percent of new users who returned on a specific day – it gives a decent view of the ability of an app or site to retain a customer. Range retention is similar to classic retention, but with a measurement time period that spans multiple days, while rolling or return retention is the percent of new users who return on or after a specific day.
The benefits of keeping hold of your audience base are far reaching – you can secure new revenue from existing customers in the form of repeat purchases, boost subscription rates, initiate repeated article viewing and generate additional purchases. It’s also an effective way to help maintain and increase ad impressions over time as well as keep your audience re-circulating through your brand’s network of linked sites.
The three guiding principles of customer retention are:
- Understand your customers – paid vs organic sources generate visitors with varying rates of loyalty
- Segment them into relevant groups
- Create a strategy to efficiently target them
And the KPIs?
The essential customer retention KPIs to consider are –
- the frequency of customer visits
- the percentage of repeat visits
- subscription rates to a particular site
- the ROI
- user loyalty or inversely, churn rate
All sources are not created equally – How to maximise loyalty with different mediums
There are numerous ways to drive traffic to a website, these include pay per click (PPC), or search engine advertising (SEA) in the US, SEO from organic searches, affiliate blogs (which can bring in higher quality traffic), displays such as banner ads (which give a higher reach but low clickthrough rate), and social media. They all drive different levels and varying qualities of traffic – and in turn entail different levels of loyalty. Marketing sources tend to generate more unique visitors than organic sources, but organic sources often bring in more loyal visitors.
When marketers are deciding how to allocate their budgets, they usually only study traffic volumes, conversions and ROI. However, it is vital to take softer metrics – notably user retention – into account to provide longer term value and create user loyalty. All with the aim of generating repeat purchases and brand advocacy.
AT Internet’s advanced web analytics solution in partnership with Batch’s mobile CRM platform offer a user-friendly way of visualising visitor loyalty and churn rates and improve your retention levels. Read on to learn more!
Understanding your customers – repeat visitors and frequency
Analysing the behaviour of visitors is essential for understanding audience loyalty, and to carry out a thorough analysis, you need optimal and quality data. Using retention graphs is an effective way of visualising repeat visitors.
A retention graph or matrix makes it simple to compare different aspects of your visitor population – however its main advantage is that you can focus on specific campaigns, sites and the different devices used. Obtaining a holistic view of repeat visits through cross-device analysis will help you comprehend not only who is visiting your sites, but also how often.
The graphs below show which sources have resulted in the most engaged users over a certain time period, which version of a mobile app retains the most users, and the impact of specific campaigns and publications.
To find out more about retention graphs, check out our blog.
After you’ve understood the nature of user visits and frequency, it’s important to ascertain who your most loyal users are and where they come from.
Digital analytics and segmentation can help you deepen brand engagement, increase visitor spend, create brand ambassadors, and predict Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
Media companies can use analytics to drive their retention actions and segment their audience. This will obviously involve different methods depending on the type of media organisation but can include some of the following groups:
- The most and least frequent users and the longest-term loyal users
- Recent or new subscribers
- Specific themes (such as ‘culture’) or publication titles (e.g. Le Monde)
- Specific publication usage to identify new possibilities for crossover subscription offers
Finally, it is essential to segment populations that are at risk of churning. For media publications and subscriptions, you might segment on subscribers who visit your site less frequently (churn indicators obviously vary between companies).
Tracking and targeting users
Once the segments have been identified, it is important to track and target users across their devices. Cross-device usage is essential to measure as it will significantly affect your analyses. Online audiences are likely to use a range of devices to visit a site on any given day, and this can be difficult to recognise. Users can often appear to leave a particular site or app, when they have in fact simply changed device. Harnessing cross-device analytics is therefore crucial to obtain an accurate view of how users interact with your content and media brand. One way to do this is to encourage your audience to login permanently to all your sites.
Permanent login is where a user remains signed in across connected sites thanks to cookies and the ‘remember me’ option. It will give you an insight into audience behaviour and provide a more reliable level of cross-device measurement.
A more effective method is single sign-on (SSO) where a user only needs to login to a single account to be recognised across a network of sites belonging to a particular publisher or media group. This goes a step further than permanent login by making it easier and more appealing for a user to login – they only have to sign in once to get access to all their accounts across a range of sites. It is an efficient way to gain a comprehensive overview of cross-device usage and reliably measure your audience.
A recent initiative in France, spearheaded by AT Internet customers such as L’Equipe, Les Echos-Le Parisien, Lagardère Active, Le Monde and Radio France aimed to encourage this practice across the industry and pave the way for solid and more accurate cross-device/platform analysis.
How can these insights help you increase retention of other less loyal visitors? How can you identify and reduce churn rates?
A great place to start is with AT Internet’s cutting edge digital analytics solution, the mobile CRM platform provided by our partner Batch and our upcoming RFE module. By gaining a solid understanding of visitor loyalty and churn rates, you can take proactive measures to boost your retention levels.
AT Internet’s User Insights
An integral part of AT Internet’s Analytics Suite, User Insights provides an accurate and comprehensive view of the user journey across all your brand’s digital touchpoints. Featuring Retention, Frequency, Overlap and Sequences reports, User Insights puts you in the driving seat to manage your cross-source, -campaign, -device and cross-site analysis. With a complete overview of user activity and a 360° vision of consumer behaviour, you’ll be in the best position to carry out a strong analysis and make the right decisions based on the most relevant metrics. You’ll be perfectly positioned to analyse the behaviour of the data and segment it per offer, promotion, campaign, device and source/platform.
An AT Internet technological partner, Batch is a mobile CRM and push-notification platform that allows users to customise their audiences by generating segments using analytics data and sending personalised notifications to these custom audiences. It enables you to optimise campaign performance by making the most of your push campaigns’ history and results to adapt messaging and boost conversions. By using AT Internet segments in Batch, you can retarget certain groups according to conversion data from previous campaigns (such as notification opens, purchases, clicks, etc.). It is then possible to automatically track the effectiveness of your push notification campaigns directly in your Analytics Suite dashboards. Armed with your analytics data and Batch push notifications, you can significantly reduce churn by targeting at-risk or churned segments, and then sending them relevant notifications with special offers to re-align them as solid subscribers.
Recency/Frequency/Engagement is a module coming soon from AT Internet that intelligently segments users and classifies them into groups of loyal, semi-loyal and lost users. Designed to help you increase the retention of less loyal visitors it identifies your semi-loyal users so you can see who is at risk of churning and find ways to encourage them to stay with you.
Shifting sands for the media industry…
Despite the bleak outlook a couple of years ago that digital media consumers were unlikely to pay for content, content producers are now increasingly turning to ways of keeping customers loyal and measuring different aspects of customer retention.
The focus has essentially shifted from converting new customers into subscribers to keeping hold of current ones and giving them a valuable Return on Experience (ROX). According to Chief Commercial Officer Tor Jacobsen of Swedish daily tabloid Svenska Dagbladet, following a study on the content people read after subscribing – “hiring editors to work on specific content is more effective for retention than conversion.”
He added, “Work with digital churn is more important than ever, we are going from a sale- and volume-driven phase where we’ve had a tremendous growth in new subscribers, to a phase where we concentrate on keeping the subscribers and making them happy. You need to do a lot of different activities; we are approaching the different customer steps in a much more targeted way: onboarding, anti-churn work with existing customers, loyalty programs, win back. These steps all need different actions.”
Keen to learn more about measuring and improving retention for media groups? Head straight over to our latest guide – “Winning the data game – Digital analytics tactics for media groups”.