Keeping both new subscribers and existing ones active is the key to avoiding churn, so a Finnish publisher has added a FOMO page to keep both interested.
Laura Tuomela, subscriber retention development manager at Alma Media in Helsinki, says Kauppalehti’s activation emails to keep subscribers include articles and personalised recommendations from an AI-based recommendation algorithm.
“Creating habits for new subscribers and showing them the value of the product is a challenge,” she says in an INMA blog, “but it can also be hard to maintain those habits, especially within a target group of busy professionals.”
The business news site measure activity of its whole subscriber base with an FRV calculation (frequency, recency, volume). “Together with our data team, we take advantage of historical data to determine if the subscriber’s recent activity is going up or down, and if it’s a significant change,” she says.
“Based on that, we trigger an automated activation flow, aiming to act proactively to prevent certain segments from becoming passive if they have recently been active.”
Results from the emails – which include articles and personalised recommendations from the AI-based recommendation algorithm – results have been very good. “For example, the opening rates for these emails are, on average, higher than 60 per cent. Plus, we’ve seen improvement in those subscribers’ overall activity.”
Tuomela says the publisher started raising awareness of the importance of retention and churn prevention a few years ago. “One of the most important aspects in this regard is working together with the editorial team,” she says. “We meet at least twice a month to discuss what’s going on in the newsroom, how churn rates are evolving, and what new ideas we could try out next.”
Several new newsletters have been successful, promoting content in new ways, Kauppalehti’s onboarding process has been renewed, new subscriber insights introduced to newsroom dashboards, and new subscriber surveys launched.
“We believe that making it easy to cancel pays us back in the future,” she says. “If the cancellation flow’s user experience is pleasant and easy, the likelihood of getting those subscribers to return someday increases.
“But, that said, it shouldn’t be too easy. We still need ways to try to convince the subscriber to stay, optimise pricing, and collect data for a better understanding of customer habits and needs.”
The whole cancellation flow has been renewed, with the addition of a new ‘fear of missing out’ page to the beginning. “It made the flow only one step longer, but it enabled us to showcase personalised, subscriber-only articles the subscriber is about to miss as well as engaging product features.”
The page creates a reason to halt and rethink, and Tuomela says results have been excellent: “We now manage to save about 30 per cent of those who enter the flow.”
Involuntary churn is also a big problem.
Earlier this year Kauppalehti migrated its subscriber base to a new payment provider, taking the opportunity to extend the ‘grace period’ from two weeks to three. “The longer the time, the bigger the opportunity of getting the failed payments to go through eventually,” she says, “for example, if the reason is due to temporarily insufficient funds or the card is expired but the payment can still be retrieved when updated.”
After these changes, there was a significant decrease in cancellations due to payment failures.
“What you can do on a daily basis is contact your customers immediately if there are issues with their payments,” she says. “You need to make sure your reminder flows about expiring credit cards and payment failures are in shape: You must have the necessary data to trigger them in time and know the flows are up and running on every possible channel and creating results.
“We started examining our existing reminder flows. Are we utilising all the data we have? When should we start the communication? Are the flows long enough? Are the flows too long, and do they irritate the customers? Are customers responding to them?”
One of the changes since made has been to the starting point of the expiry flow. Some banks deliver new credit cards well in advance and some banks don’t. “One thing we discovered was that it’s worthwhile to start the reminding process well in advance – 30 days before the card is about to expire. Making the flow longer doesn’t irritate the customers.
“Getting results in retention and churn prevention involves a lot of testing, trying out new things, questioning and optimising existing methods, and, of course, learning from them as well as the industry’s own best practices.
“Some of those tests work and many won’t, but with consistent work, the results will eventually come.”