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12 Powerful Playbooks For Publishers To Remarket To Their Owned Audience

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12 Powerful Playbooks For Publishers To Remarket To Their Owned Audience

Content = King.

Is it really though? I mean it did rule the media world for decades but how do you get along with the fact that 50%+ queries on Google Search result in 0 clicks today? And then for the rest 50, where the internet turns out to be that deafeningly loud cocktail party? With noises floating all over SERP, one can fearlessly admit that content is no longer the king. It has become a commodity that is so much easier to create than ever. And that, in a way, makes:

Distribution = Queen. 

dave marketing

Ever thought why the greatest geniuses of all times were left undiscovered? Or what makes any art, business or a service go viral? You can not afford to take the distribution for granted. For it is after all what converts your content into $s. Fun fact - approx. 96% of the visitors coming to your website leave without completing the action that you wanted them to take. Marketing content gives you a second chance to make that first impression! And the third! And even the fourth. You know what, you get to engage the audience till it enters and completes one full cycle of your visitor’s flywheel:

Visitors-flywheelSo where do you start marketing? Can not simply post it under the umbrella of the  Duopoly for obvious reasons. But if not Facebook and Google, what else can help a publisher keep the show running, but this time, with sustainability?

Owned Audience = Queen’s newborn who's about to rule the media world. 

Each time a new user lands on Google, it is prompted to share the “identity and permissions” with the platform in order to access its content. This sole difference places the audience ownership (most premium asset in the publishing ecosystem) right in the palms of these platforms. 

But wait. Who called audience ownership the most premium asset? And, why the heaven, should you take my word for the truth? You might be foreseeing other trends as the priority and audience control might not be one of those. So, how about I prove it to you that the platforms targeting the same audience - your audience - with data personalized enough to be considered clearly out of your reach, are going big after this “audience control”?

Alright. 

Fan Subscription, a tool owned by Facebook Inc, takes 30% revenue share from publishers and allows them to put a paywall on their content. Fans pay recurring payments on a monthly basis and are rewarded with perks such as exclusive content, personal interactions, and badges. The subscription process is simple - there will be a subscription prompt. It will take the fans to the publisher website from Facebook and the publisher will enjoy the audience ownership where Facebook gets its preset 30% cut. Life is good.

Now here’s where I find things getting gloomy or amusing, if I may. A few months back, Facebook announced a new tool that will essentially be identical to Fans Subscriptions. But, the key difference would be that it’ll convert a Facebook user into a paying subscriber directly on Facebook. 

Let me get this straight, Facebook is rolling out a new paywall tool that is identical to the last one and doesn’t bring any $s home. Wondered why?

The subscribers collected by News Funding will be owned by Facebook. And, life won’t be so good after that.

BTW, it’s not just Facebook, there has been a 20% decline in the organic clicks of the Search in the last 3 years. 50% of queries get answered on SERPs itself, and out of rest 50%, Google is sending 12% to its owned platforms - YouTube, GMaps, Photos, etc. It has also reduced the number of ads shown on Search to 2 which was 4 earlier. Why is Google trying to keep its audience on its owned platform? 

Google and Facebook want to own your audience using the content that you own. Knowing for the fact that both platforms are after audience ownership, it’s high time publishers get the hint and think about...

How to Maximize Visitor LTV (Lifetime Value) on the Website Itself

Maximize_visitor_LTV_Vivek

In a survey conducted by Digiday on 62 publisher executives at a subscription event in the NY City, it was found that converting an audience into paid subscriptions is one of the biggest roadblocks that publishers face with a subscription-based revenue model. Audience ownership has never fit in so well before. 

Digiday audience conversion

The visitor’s flywheel that you saw a few scrolls above turns your loyal audience into recurring paid subscribers. Publishers need to focus on getting their audience’s permissions to build ownership, understanding that audience by leveraging in-house data, and engaging the audience consistently with quality content to offer a premium audience experience. 

Building-Audience-Ownership

Read this Audience Engagement Guide if you want to understand what takes a visitor deeper into the visitor's flywheel.

But, to maximize the visitor’s LTV on the website...

Editors Need A New Playbook to Engage Their Audiences 

“The big picture is that Problem #1 (too many publications) and Problem #2 (platform monopolies) have catalyzed together to create Problem #3 (investors realize they were investing in a mirage and don’t want to invest any more)” 

- Josh Marshall, Editor, and Publisher at TPM

fault

I couldn’t agree more with Josh because the thing is that it is our fault. We made the duopoly what it is today. We invested so much in them that there is, no matter how badly we want, no more an easy escape for us. But, knowing that publishers have taken their baby steps already, we soon will.

Through the first nine months of 2019, publisher spending on paid Facebook distribution to support subscriptions was up 150% compared to the same period last year, according to Keywee data. The fact is a strong proof that media companies are shifting their focus from display to subscriptions for the reader’s revenue. But is this subscription-based revenue model here to stay or is it just another fad in an industry long defined by the fads?

Reuters study of journalism

A survey of 163 senior publishing figures revealed that only 35% of publishers believe ads would provide their primary online revenue stream in 2019 whereas 52% vouched for content subscriptions. 

Surveys like this strongly support that subscriptions would be the highlight of publishers’ revenue streams in the near future. But are publishers practicing what would actually get the ball rolling here? Let’s take a brief look at the playbook publishers currently use to engage their audience and what should ideally be their best fit.

Outdated engagement playbook:

Outdated-engagement-playbook

New playbook for effective engagement:

New-playbook-for-effective-engagement (1)It is as weird as going to the prom wearing a tracksuit. As the industry shifts towards subscription-based revenues, publishers need to up their game by engaging users with those new practices in town. Using an engagement playbook that worked in 2017 might not be your best shot for engaging users in 2020 or in 2025 when advertising would feel like stretching its wings less wide.

Enabling-the-future-of-digital-publisher(graph)

How To Create a Publisher Playbook 

A playbook is a proven engagement process that gets automatically triggered once a pre-specified action takes place. An example of this could be sending out a notification every time a new article goes live on the blog or sending a weekly or a daily digest to your marketing list. Creating an engagement playbook is a four-step process -

Define the Engagement Process

Create a doc and define the entire process at one place. Remember, a playbook is nothing but a cloned and automated process. A well-detailed process would help you mark the strongest and the weakest links of your playbook and therefore, find the most suitable solution for the same. Here’s the checklist that’ll help you define your engagement process:

  1. Define a trigger for the playbook
  2. Define the audience segment that the playbook will target
  3. List the available touch-points/channels
  4. Research and finalize the engagement solutions to be used
  5. Set the desired metrics (Open rates, CTRs, etc)
  6. Set a time frame for the engagement process
  7. Define what happens after a user has performed the desired action

Understand the Audience

To define who the playbook is for, a deep understanding of the targeted audience segment is vital. You might want to consider meeting/getting on calls with a handful of people falling under the audience segment. Here are the steps to achieve it -

  1. Create your brand’s ideal audience persona (content category, engagement hours, demographics, etc)
  2. Find the core challenges of your audience that keeps them from entering the next stage of the flywheel.
  3. Read FAQs by the audience
  4. Ask them to rate the value your content delivers
  5. List your competitors
  6. Understand why your audience prefers you
  7. Understand why it doesn’t 

Create your Content Repository

Alright. So, you know your audience. You have a defined plan in place. Now, you need to put the content together, call it a content library, that will be used while assigning the content for different stages of engagement flywheel. Pointers that’ll help -

  1. Bifurcate and assign assets to each stage of the visitor flywheel
  2. Consider editing and optimizing content for better engagement

Analyze. Measure. Optimize.

You know what they say? What gets measured, gets managed. Exactly what your next step is going to be. Get your team in a room for the feedback and see how the playbook performed. When you have flaws marked, update the playbook for optimum results -

  1. Analyze the market. See if the playbook is being widely used. See if it is not. Ask the reason behind not using it.
  2. Measure the metrics you defined in step 1. See if the results met the target.
  3. Collect feedback from the team and optimize the playbook basis that.

How To Create A Campaign 

What-makes-a-campaignNow that you know how to create an engagement playbook. Let's get to the “campaign” you would be using that playbook for. A campaign has a well-defined objective attached to it. The objective is what sort of helps you further define the components of your campaign, which are:

What - Content: 

You created a content repository, remember? Use it to define the kind of content that will be used in the campaign. Don’t forget, personalization is the key here. Use the personalization tokens like brand, content category, etc and trigger emotions that make people click.

clicks contenht

Who - Audience Segment:

You have built a deep understanding of your audience while creating a playbook. Pick the segment that you would want to target in this campaign. The audience can be segmented on the basis of:

  1. Demography - Location, Gender, or basically a piece of background information that doesn’t change with time.
  2. Behavior - Actions that the users take on your website would fall under behavioral segmentation. Is this audience segment always leaving the website once being directed to a specific web page? Do they spend more time reading short articles? 
  3. Psychography - Interests of the segmented audience. Do they like sports or is it technology content that they are mostly interested in? Do they like watching video content more than those long reads?

When - Time of the Trigger:

The timing of the trigger might vary from person to person. Pravya left the web page at 07:00 pm. She’ll get a notification at 07.15 pm. But, Neha abandoned the article at 08:00 pm. As the notification follows the time of the trigger, a notification will be sent at 08.15 pm.

The timing of the trigger entirely depends on the preset counter and, obviously, the action that the user takes. The action need not necessarily be browse abandonment (more on the triggers in the next section).

How - Channel:

“How” essentially talks about the channel and the platforms editors use to engage the audience segment. Basis the objective, the engagement period and your pocket, the “how” of your engagement playbook might change up to a certain extent. So, special attention while selecting the engagement channel is always recommended. Here are the most widely used and publisher recommended channels for audience engagement:

  • Push notifications
  • Emails
  • Chats

12 Ready to Use Playbook Templates

These templates have been created to show you how playbooks are leveraged for different engagement triggers. I made sure of covering as many triggers as possible. You can use these for free and customize them as per your own campaign requirements

Form Abandonment

Form-Abandonment

A web push notification can be sent to visitors that dropped off from the subscription page and reminds them to complete the registration. 

  • Title: You were sooo close to our premium insights
  • Copy: Click here to complete your registration!
  • CTA: Register Now

When

 - The notification will be sent in the next 15 minutes, an hour or a day later

Why

 - To increase paid subscriptions

Who

 - Users who landed on the subscription page and left

How

 - Channels can be web push notification, email, chat

 - Device type - Mobile, Desktop

 

Snippet Abandonment

Snippet-Abandonment

A web push notification for visitors that checked out the snippet of the content page but didn’t click on read more. It can display the featured image and the title (or the tag) of the content page. Also, because the user was clearly interested in the topic, you might also consider sharing similar content under that category. 

  • Title: [article_tag] has been trending on [website_name]!
  • Copy: Read now to know what’s really happening
  • CTA: Read More

When

 - The notification will be sent in the next 15 minutes, an hour or a day later

Why

 - To increase the session duration and engage subscribers

Who

 - Users that read the snippet but didn’t click on read more

How

 - Channels can be web push notification, email, chat

 - Device type - Mobile, Desktop

 

Chat Update

Chat-UpdateA web push notification that updates users on the comments on threads that they were a part of. The notification can display the reply that the user’s comment got along with a CTA button that is linked to the comment section on the website. A normal update on the other comments can also be shared. 

  • Title: Guess what! You are trending in our chat section
  • Copy: See what has been discussed after you left!
  • CTA: See The Comments

When

 - The notification will be sent immediately a reply is received. For other comments, the notification will be sent 15 minutes, an hour and/or a day after the trigger.

Why

 - To keep the user engaged and the discussion active

Who

 - Users that have participated in a chat discussion

How

 - Channels can be web push notification, email, chat

 - Device type - Mobile, Desktop

 

New Content Alert

New-Content-AlertYou can send a web push notification that will fetch the featured image and title of the content through an RSS feed every time some new content goes live.

  • Title: Woot! We have just published: [article_name]
  • Copy: And it is already trending!
  • CTA: Read Now

When

 - The notification will be triggered basis the publishing date. It can be sent immediately or a day after publishing giving it some time to get indexed

Why

 - To get more eyeballs on the new content and engage users

Who

 - To all the users that have subscribed to the web push notifications

How

 - Channels can be web push notification, email, chat

 - Device type - Mobile, Desktop

 

Daily/Weekly Digest

Daily-Weekly-DigestYou can send a web push notification displaying the featured image and the title of the content that received the maximum traction. 

  • Title: Hi, here’s your customized daily/weekly digest/ Hi, here are the daily/weekly hits for you
  • Copy: Click to know what all the buzz is about
  • CTA: Check out the list

When

 - The notification can be triggered every month or every week

Why

 - To build more engagement for loyal users

Who

 - To all the users that have subscribed to the web push notifications

How

 - Channels can be web push notification, email, chat

 - Device type - Mobile, Desktop

 

Watched a Video on Mute

Saw-Video-on-MuteYou can send a web push notification to users that clicked on a video but didn’t unmute it. It can display the thumbnail of the video along with a catchy headline and a CTA button that says “watch now”. 

  • Title: Oops… this video that you saw was on mute :(
  • Copy: Click here to continue watching it 
  • CTA: Watch It Now

When

 - The notification can be triggered 15 minutes or an hour after the trigger

Why

 - To get another chance at delivering the real content value

Who

 - Users that watched a video without turning the sound ON

How

 - Channels can be web push notification, email, chat

 - Device type - Mobile, Desktop

 

Incomplete Read

Incomplete-ReadA web push notification with the featured image and the title of the content reminding them about the incomplete read.

  • Title: Hi, people have been talking about [article_name] lately!
  • Copy: A perfect read for a lazy [day]
  • CTA: Read Now

When

 - The notification can be triggered 15 minutes, 2 hours, or 24 hours after the abandonment

Why

 - To increase the session duration and engage users

Who

 - Users that left the website after consuming a portion of the content

How

 - Channels can be web push notification, email, chat

 - Device type - Mobile, Desktop

 

Tab Abandonment

Tab-AbandonmentA web push notification can be sent whenever a user closes a tab. The notification can have the page featured image and title asking the user to read more. The copy can also be something relevant that could make the user click.

  • Title: Half knowledge is a dangerous thing!
  • Copy: At [website_name], readers get every facet of the truth
  • CTA: Read What’s Trending

When

 - The notification can be sent 15 minutes or 2 hours after the abandonment

Why

 - To increase the session duration and engage users

Who

 - Users who closed the website tab

How

 - Channels can be web push notification, email, chat

 - Device type - Mobile, Desktop

 

Content Remarketing

Content-RemarketingA web push notification will be sent after 15 minutes of user leaving the website. It can display the featured image and the title of a trending story or a poll on a political/environmental issue or a catchy headline.

  • Title: Today a reader, tomorrow a leader!/ Oh! You thought you explored it all?
  • Copy: Here are more interesting reads for you
  • CTA: Read More

When

 - The notification will be sent in the next 15 minutes of the trigger

Why

 - To increase repeat visits by bringing the user back to the website

Who

 - Users that came to the website 15 minutes back

How

 - Channels can be web push notification, email, chat

 - Device type - Mobile, Desktop

 

Content Recommendation

Content-RecommendationA web push notification will be sent to users that went through a content page but didn’t go through recommended/related content. The notification can display the featured image and the title of the first recommended content. It works great for blogs that produce lifestyle content as the session isn’t time bound, unlike news content where you click only to consume the live events. 

  • Title: Psst… we saw you reading about [category_name]
  • Copy: You’d love what we have for you next!
  • CTA: Check it out

When

 - The notification will be sent in the next 15 minutes, an hour or a day later

Why

 - To increase the session duration and engage users

Who

 - Users that consumed the entire content but didn’t click on the recommended snippets

How

 - Channels can be web push notification, email, chat

 - Device type - Mobile, Desktop

 

Dormant Reader Activation

Dormant-Reader-ActivationA web push notification for users that didn’t visit the site in the last 7 days. The notification can display the blog featured image and a preset text that prompts the subscriber to open the blog. It can also be a new story or a poll on a trending debate that will drive the clicks. 

  • Title: What’s tempting and totally worth it? 
  • Copy: Recent, authentic, and viral news!
  • CTA: Read what’s new

When

 - The notification will be sent on the 7th day of abandonment

Why

 - To reactivate the dormant users and increase website traffic

Who

 - Users that came to the website 7 days ago

How

 - Channels can be web push notification, email, chat

 - Device type - Mobile, Desktop

 

Homepage Abandonment

Homepage-AbandonmentA web push notification for users that visited homepage but didn’t click on any content. It can display the brand logo or the homepage featured image along with the preset text that prompts a subscriber to open the website. It can also be a new story or a poll on a trending debate that drives the clicks. 

  • Title: It was about to get interesting, and you left :(
  • Copy: Here’s what is in store for you
  • CTA: Read More

When

 - The notification can be sent in the next 15 minutes, an hour or a day of the trigger

Why

 - To increase repeat visitors and recover brand abandonment

Who

 - Users that landed on the homepage and left

How

 - Channels can be web push notification, email, chat

 - Device type - Mobile, Desktop

 

You Need More Than Just The Engaging Content

All said and done, publishers need to realize that premium content isn’t their absolute objective anymore. It simply can’t be knowing content is facing challenges getting discovered. If not the content, a well-distributed quality content served to a regularly engaged owned audience has to be the new milestone. Best practices to get there have started to emerge. Playbooks to engage the reader in its most marketable moment have certainly become one.

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Neha Tanwer
Neha Tanwer
Neha is a Product Marketer @iZooto who works with a single focus of helping publishers grow faster and better. Coming from the lap of Himalayas, she is a theatre artist, who loves dropping gears to travel the mountains. When not in office, she can be found roaming in the streets of Delhi finding next good cafeteria to eat at.

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