How to build a better subscriber experience in 3 steps

Oct 1, 2020 | Articles

Andrea Burgueño

Andrea Burgueño


Most online newspapers reported an increase of their reader base during the lockdown period. Coronavirus has reminded us all of the value and the importance of information. However newspapers and magazines still have a challenge to face. Now they need to start working on engagement in order to retain users. And because it is not actually a very simple thing to do, here is a little help. Ready to find out how to build a better subscriber experience in 3 steps?

Engagement is not only a social media KPI

How often do your readers come back to your articles? How long do they spend on your site? Do they subscribe? Do they comment? Also, if you organize an event, do they participate? Are they interested in buying merchandising, special printed editions, etc.? And if you are present on social media, have you managed to build a real community there too?

When your readers like your content and love your brand, engagement is a natural reaction. So it is a very clear indicator of your ability to deliver that, what your audience is looking for.

Starting by the fact that there is always an audience for whatever content you want to work on, it should be feasible to build one and to create a community too. Though, the main question is not: is there an audience for my content? But: am I addressing my content to the right audience? Or even better: am I targeting the right audience?

Turn readers into engaged subscribers

If you want to improve subscriber experience, the first step to increase engagement is to get the readers’ full attention. How?

  • By leading readers to read all the contents they’ve missed or some other related articles. “Before you go”, “you may also like” and this kind of messages are a simple, but an excellent way to draw users’ attention to content they might otherwise miss.
  • By creating a membership program. When subscribers not only get access to premium content, but are also granted other sorts of on- and offline experiences like events, talks, etc., they perceive their subscription as something much more valuable.
  • Rewards and gamification could also work in this environment. As crazy as it may sound, rewarding the most active readers with points to win gifts, could be a totally effective strategy depending on the type of publication and audience. Also, it is a way to lead readers to activating digital access. In this case, subscribers would need to create an account in order to participate in the rewards program.

Improve subscriber experience by listening to your audience

Understanding your readers behaviour is the only way to know if what you are offering them is actually what they want. One of the many advantages of digital media is the huge amount of data organizations can gather and work with. Understanding general behaviours is good, but going granular is better. This allows publishers to offer the right thing to every reader, make the recommendations they are looking for, understand which related articles would they be interested in, etc.

Also, leveraging data is the first step to build a great relationship with readers. Why? Because it allows publishers to let readers know they care for them. Data analysis makes personalization possible and personalization brings people and organizations much, much closer.

Wouldn’t your subscriber experience be much better if your favourite newspaper offered you straight away the content you would like to consume, for instance?

Leverage the power of a good newsletter

Usually readers who want to receive newsletters are more inclined to become paid subscribers. Also, readers reached via e-mail are more loyal than those coming from search or social media channels. That’s why it makes sense for most publishers to invest on personalized newsletters.

Newsletters allow publishers to keep developing their relationship with their readers and reach a higher level of engagement by exploring related areas of interest. A good example of this is the use of pop-up newsletters such as The New York Time’s ones.

There are many other ways to use the potential of a good newsletter, as well as many other ways to improve subscriber experience. However, the most important thing here is not how to do it, but just doing it. Engagement is a decisive factor in the relationship with any reader and the fact is that habits are formed in the first 100 days of doing something. This basically means that publishers have 100 days to retain users, so if you are still wondering how to do it, stop overthinking and start following our advice.

How can publishers turn readers into subscribers?

The best way to create a great experience and convert your readers into engaged subscribers is by leading them into related articles of their interest, creating a membership program and offering them rewards.

What’s the best way to increase engagement?

Definitely, the best way to improve your audience’s engagement is by listening to them, what they have to say and their interests. This way, you’re letting your audience know that you care for them.

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