Information never sleeps in a 24-hour media cycle. Consumers rely on digital sources for news, entertainment, education, and more, making online interactions with media companies part of daily life. But competition is fierce and audiences have increasingly high expectations. In an industry that operates at break-neck speed, it takes more than great content to grab and keep their attention.
Forecasts show the number of digital publishing and streaming video users increasing to 323 million by 2022, according to Statista. It’s critical for a media company to recognize the challenges — from content to credibility to compensation — in order to capture revenue by giving audiences the experiences they want.
Here are three questions marketing managers must ask, and the strategies that uncover answers, in order to deliver digital products that engage and delight audiences with a customer experience (CX) that drives loyalty.
1. Does your source exude credibility?
Even well-established media organizations can seem seedy to a consumer. Users need assurances that the information they’re consuming is reputable and reliable. An ill-conceived headline or a few wrong keywords can cause a legitimate piece of content to be dismissed by users, or even cause the source to be considered “fake news.” Gaining continuous human insights to understand what makes a source feel reliable is a wise step toward maintaining trust.
Strategies: Go beyond focus groups with unstaffed tests to gauge readers’ perception of the legitimacy of digital content, especially on social media. Readers/viewers can navigate to the content and describe their initial impressions of the content and source itself. Ask them to read through their social and news feeds and explain what sounds legitimate or doesn’t and why. Watching and listening as a user explores media content gives you access to instant reactions and feelings that can’t be easily—or accurately—captured through other methods.
2. How and when are users interacting with your content?
Most successful media companies agree that a one-size-fits-all approach to research won’t cut it, given that the ways people interact with content can vary wildly, even within the same demographic. Consider a major sports event. What happens before, during and after the game? How are fans interacting with related content? Are they commenting on social media? Are they looking up advertisers after a commercial? Which channels and devices are they using and what is the experience like? There’s a wealth of insight available to influence your CX strategy.
Strategies: Surveys are a great for establishing a baseline for what viewers find most valuable when it comes to content. They can also help ID the actual factors that keep users loyal. Once a baseline is established, a diary study can take a longitudinal view of how they consume content. Do they check the news on their smartphone every day, or only weekdays?
This perspective reveals how users interact with a media product over time, providing a more holistic view of their experience and areas for further focus and optimization.
3. Can you make money (easily)?
Bridging that gap between free, expected, and paid (valued) content is challenging. Media companies are continually adapting to find that sweet spot between their audience and making money. Whether through a recurring subscription or ad views, users will “pay” for content, so understanding what’s valuable to them is critical. Continuous studies offer the first-hand insights needed for marketers to cultivate a loyal, paying audience.
Strategies: When introducing any new revenue-generating feature, validate and gauge your audience’s perceptions before implementing. A prototype test of a paywall for a news site, for example, will give early insight into how readers perceive the ask. You may find most aren’t willing to pay a subscription fee, but would turn off ad blocking software to access content. Discovering these preferences before launching reinforces that the company understands what readers think.
Test across devices! A paywall may not disrupt a desktop experience but could on mobile or a tablet. The placement of ads on a screen can impact the mobile experience differently than the desktop experience, killing willingness to stay on the page.
Innovative media companies understand that the future relies on understanding an ever-changing audience. With information infused into every moment, there’s no lack of opportunity to capture an audience with content that resonates. Continuously gathering human insights will inform and improve your CX strategy so that users instinctively make your media part of their daily routine.