Reuters Institute's Piechota authors INMA report on reader value

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A new INMA report looks at the way publishers are re-thinking how they communicate core value propositions to ensure long-term relationships.

The industry's embrace of digital subscriptions and the need to reduce churn to maintain a growth path are addressed in 'Nurturing value for news consumers', the first of four "pillars" for INMA's Readers First Initiative, which aims to create a road map toward the next generation of consumer monetisation.

Researcher-in-residence Grzegorz Piechota heads the initiative and is the author of the new 53-page report. Key findings include:

Why retention is key: Retention, not acquisition, is the key to extending the digital subscription growth runway as acquiring a new customer is up to 25 per cent more expensive than retaining an existing one.

Lifetime relationship: Purchase is not the end game of the value-nurturing funnel. A lifetime relationship is.

Convenience and personalisation: Convenience is more important than content in the subscription economy, and personalisation is a key convenience factor.

Follow the data: Intimately follow what audience data suggests. Consider discontinuing content that has no business objectives and complicates the content ecosystem. Be willing and able to react to changing subscriber behaviours.

How to differentiate product via brand and segmentation: Product differentiation by brand positioning and market segmentation is the marketing strategy of the future.

The report focuses on the differences between reader engagement and value nurturing. Both are separately important in subscriber retention, yet Piechota treats them as separate but equal functions. Reader engagement is mostly a newsroom function, while value nurturing is mostly a marketing function. Inside today's news media company, organisational lines are blurred.

"Relationships that aren't nurtured fall apart," he says in the report's executive summary. "That truth is no different in your home than it is at your news media company. A monthly subscription is nice. A lifelong relationship is what sustains us."

The report leans heavily into value propositions and nurturing strategies at Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify with Piechota's research at Oxford University's Reuters Institute creating intersections with news media companies.

Drawing on research from media companies worldwide, the report looks at how Netflix and Spotify "raise the bar" for news media; differentiating your brand from free alternatives; managing content portfolios to maximise value' nurturing value with news products; and adding value with convenience.

INMA executive director and chief executive Earl Wilkinson says that while much of the report's look into the post-purchase customer journey is strategic marketing through the prism of digital subscriptions, "make no mistake that value nurturing is a high-level discussion about news brands that is long overdue: differentiation, identifying perceived value, figuring out 'jobs to be done,' and focusing on 'winning every session,' and 'forming a daily news habit'."

The Readers First Initiative - to be released over the next nine months- continue with consumer business innovation; newsroom transformation 2.0; and local media and subscriptions.

'Nurturing value for news consumers' is free to INMA members and available to non-members for US$795 including a year's of association membership. Visit www.inma.org/reports.

Pictured: Greg Piechota during a 2018 workshop for WAN-Ifra in Bali

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