last week expanded its London bureau to boost its breaking news coverage as the publisher seeks to hit
ambitious subscription targets in the next five years.
The New York Times
The newspaper's announcement came as the Reuters Institute published a report examining how news publications in the United Kingdom and Spain are developing subscription revenue strategies. The report by journalist Eduardo Suarez has lessons for every publisher coping with the loss of readers and ad revenue to digital rivals.
Developing subscription revenue means publishers need to adopt a mind-set that permeates the entire organization, Suarez writes. Acquiring and retaining paying subscribers requires a laser-like focus on metrics that help to evaluate what keeps readers coming back.
Frequency of website visits and time spent on the site outweigh other metrics, such as Facebook likes, page views and unique users because "occasional readers never subscribe," Suarez writes. A key part of urging people to pay for a subscription is telling them why they should support its work, including its editorial mission and how it fits in with their lives.
Publishers also need to focus on the needs of a core audience willing to pay for content and less likely to abandon a publication after an initial trial. The on-boarding process needs to emphasize all the benefits that come with being a subscriber, according to the report.
An emphasis on the user experience is essential to succeed, especially as more people consume media on smartphones, Suarez writes. “The most successful news organizations think thoroughly about loading time, packaging and presentation," he says. "Younger audiences are used to the high standards set by digital platforms. They don’t accept pop-up windows or invasive ads.”
Suarez's report provides many insights and examples of publications that are revamping their operations to drive reader revenue. As publishers grapple with declining ad sales, those strategies are more important than ever to build a sustainable business.