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#18. Scaling newsletter readership, why you should employ a community manager & optimizing paywall visibility

You're reading The Audiencers' newsletter #18, sent out on July 12th, 2023.  To receive future newsletters straight to your inbox every two weeks, sign up here.

In The Audiencers’ Newsletter #18:

  • The Social Media Manager is dead, long live the Community Builder
  • How to increase paywall visibility – the forgotten metric that will help move readers through the funnel towards subscription
  • The CEO of beehiiv on audience engagement and scaling newsletter readership
  • 🗓 Save the date: you’re invited toThe Audiencers’ Festival
  • Recommendations to add to your reading list: from The Audiencers & friends

The Social Media Manager is dead, long live the Community Builder

social media

There was a time when, on Facebook as on Instagram, a motivated Social Media Manager and a well developed communications strategy were enough to get a brand off the ground. Sézane, Bergamotte, Tediber, Horace, Shanty Biscuits… The 2010s marked the advent of Digital Native Vertical Brands (DNVB). Lifestyle brands that built their success on an impeccable mastery of digital channels. 

Today, however, the tide is turning. Instagram is being criticized for its impact on mental health. There’s one bad buzz after another across the platforms (Amazon Prime in 2023, Balenciaga in 2022, etc.). And young internet users are demanding ever more authenticity and transparency from the brands they consume… 

These trends aren’t insignificant. They reveal a profound transformation in the dynamics of social media communication, and in what consumers expect from brands. In response to these changes, a new profession is emerging. The Community Builder, tasked with connecting and developing trust with a company’s ever-changing audience. 

Noémie Kempf, co-founder of Komuno, the first community building school in France, and author of the book “Le pouvoir des communautés” (The Power of Communities”) shares why she believes the future for Social Media Managers lies in community building. Out now on The Audiencers.

How to increase paywall visibility

There’s a significant loss of readers moving from visiting the premium article to actually seeing the paywall.

In fact, our Benchmark Report revealed only 52% of readers (on average) on premium content will see the paywall, with some publishers reaching only 15%…

What’s the point of building a beautifully designed wall & A/B testing messaging if more than half of your readers never see it?

Our recommendations to optimize this metric:

– Test wall placement, putting it at different points on an article based on the content type – e.g. leave more of the article open for general news content compared to opinion pieces (ELLE France tested moving the wall up 10%, increasing conversion rates)

– Employ a different wall on mobile devices where the wall is seemingly further down the page

– Optimize the order in which scripts are called to the page to configure a wall to appear sooner in the case of a bad connection (& making sure the paywall is shown before advertising)

– You could also consider testing paywalls that block in a different way, such as these examples of The New York Times’s anti-scroll wall, The Washington Post’s pop-up wall & Financial Times’s full page wall

– Allow journalists to configure the placement of the paywall in their CMP to better adapt paywall visibility to the storytelling involved in their work (employing the hourglass framework, for instance)

> Find more best practices for premium offer visibility in our article

The CEO of beehiiv on audience engagement and scaling newsletter readership

How can you decide on a price for your newsletter? How reliable are open rates given Apple’s privacy restrictions? What about the key metrics to track the success of a newsletter?

… just some of the questions that the Splice Media team asked beehiiv’s CEO, Tyler Denk to help you increase newsletter engagement and scale your readership 🐝

What advice do you have around pricing a newsletter subscription?

  1. What’s a standard subscription cost for media / information / entertainment going for? 
  2. How competitive is the space? For example, are you providing political insight that literally no one else is covering? 
  3. Who’s paying for it? Is it consumer facing where individuals are pulling out their cards to pay, or is it b2b and for work? 
  4. What’s the end game? Is subscription revenue your only revenue, or are you also selling ads? Are you selling courses? Are you cross promoting into different products? 

What should the key metrics be to track the success of a newsletter? Is it just open rates?

Depends on the type of newsletter. If you’re selling premium subscriptions, it might be the number of people who upgrade from free to paid, and the churn rate of your paid (you want to obviously minimize churn).

If it’s a free newsletter, then unique opens is probably important for you to monitor. Factor in unsubscribe rate, and lifetime value of the reader as well.

Also, if you’re selling ads, you’d probably prefer people who click and engage on ads more, because it makes your newsletter more attractive to advertisers (because they’re seeing success).

That’s a whole jumble of answers but truth is there aren’t a ton of metrics in email to start with, so know what moves the needle for you and optimize for that.

Find the full interview on The Audiencers

🗓 Save the date: The Audiencers is coming to a city near you

We’re excited to announce our first IRL event, The Audiencers’ Festival, from publishing professionals, for publishing professionals.

🇬🇧 London, October 12th

📍 The Drum Labs, Shoreditch

An afternoon & evening of expertise and operational support to help you make better decisions when it comes to engaging, converting and retaining your audiences.

Not only will we hear from those already succeeding in their field, but the room will be filled with a variety of other publishing professionals working in audience development – the perfect opportunity to discuss challenges and learn from each other to support a knowledge-sharing culture. 

For example, one of our most anticipated sessions is around bridge roles. Specifically, why and how publishers can make use of these positions to bring product, tech, data, marketing and editorial teams together to increase ARPU. 

Find the full program & register your interest here

In-house content to read…

Content from The Audiencers…

…and content from elsewhere

Are these plans by UK ministers undermining publishers’ efforts to build a truly sustainable future for journalism? Or will the benefits to readers (i.e. preventing the so-called subscription trap) outweigh the negatives?

Have a great week! 

Madeleine


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