Ad Sales Life

Six essential strategies you need to know about retention


Advertiser and subscriber retention is complex. An understatement, I know. But, though possibly already inherent, the efforts and strategies behind retention efforts have become a crucial focal point for many organizations as of late.

In theory, retention is the art and science that measures both short- and long-term effectiveness in continuously retaining new and recurring customers. The difficulty, however, is that in the application, retention tactics usually involve a high degree of finesse, pricing strategy, data assessments, marketing communication and logistical acumen. Retention can also be disrupted by shifts in organizational focus, random anomalies, product adjustments and, unfortunately, even natural disasters. Unaddressed, these predicaments could lead to stagnant or even negative trends.

Therefore, any retention strategy demands a concerted effort that must be leveraged in synergy with your organization's overall growth blueprint.

If you need help, below are six things I've discovered that are essential to the immediate and future sustainability of your advertiser or subscriber base retention.

  • You must understand that retention is a gambit of constantly challenging the status quo and percentages by adjusting and continually adapting methods to augment retentiveness. This being the case, it requires a specific frame of mind that blends data, marketing and sales acuity. Assessing available data helps identify retention gaps and drives your marketing and communication strategy. Therefore, you must possess the skillset to evaluate data and configure communication techniques to affect predetermined outcomes while maintaining a healthy perpetual pursuit of enhancing overall retention percentages. 
  • Commit to continuously enhancing your product or services to accommodate your base, making retention easier overall. Your advertisers or subscribers will do reoccurring business with you IF you're easy to do business with, your perceived value exceeds the cost, your deliverables are of high quality and convenience and your processes are accommodating and straightforward. Conduct surveys, gain insight, leverage industry trends and mold your future based on being customer-centric.
  • Data is your bow, and communication is your arrow. I cannot overstate the need for robust data engineering to help your organization understand who and where your advertiser or subscriber audience is, when they engage, how and what they interact with, and why they ultimately retain or cancel. You need to continuously leverage qualitative data to understand retention at every aspect of your customer life cycle and ask questions that should drive actionable communication initiatives to impact bottom-line results. Furthermore, retention marketing and communication techniques cultivated from data should illustrate empathy and capsulize your commitment to enhancing the quality of life for your advertisers or subscribers.
  • Focus on ALL parts of your advertiser or subscriber life cycle. This is a culmination of virtually every engagement point you have, including onboarding, re-engagement, grace, monetary transactions, cancellations or saves. Acquiring customers is complicated enough, so you want to ensure that every aspect of your retention funnel is sound, functional and effective in every way possible. Know the exit points of all your product or service mediums and ensure that you have calibrated your re-engagement communication journeys at all potential off-ramps. In addition, consider that your first 60 days after acquiring a new advertiser or subscriber are vital to long-term sustainability and retention. Keep things simple, make an impression with immediate and consummate deliverables, communicate your value benefits and build trust by engaging consistently. Illustrate that your products and services enrich the lives of your advertisers or subscribers efficiently throughout all parts of your customer life cycle to decrease churn and lift in retention overall. 
  • Concentrate on immediate wins to help with your long-term efforts. Retention involves much testing to see which tactics affect percentage movement. Furthermore, you want to monitor and tally retention project impacts against forecasted data. Retention is a business area where, if neglected, you'll inevitably feel the impact, so constantly employ techniques that drive immediate results. In addition, you should agree on both short and long-term metrics that help identify trends for the future as an organization. Then, grow with those metrics and perpetually recondition your data to further understand, engage and communicate with the right audience with the right message at the right time to enhance your retention. 
  • Your payment retention strategy MUST be superlative. As organizational plans in services or prices change, you'll need to ensure that payment and transaction processes are effortless, tactful and effective concerning retention. Make sure that all payment processing vendors are compliant, leveraged and optimized for all communication touchpoints, including grace periods if applicable.

Retention is re-earning the trust your brand promises to deliver against the backdrop of perceived customer value each recurring day, week, month and year. If emphasized, it can yield exponential growth opportunities for your advertiser or subscriber base and a phenomenal impact on your bottom line. Understand the mindset, develop your product and leverage data to build a winning retention strategy that helps propel your organization to its growth goal objectives.

Richard E. Brown is a News Media Alliance Rising Star recipient, the former director of renewals and digital sales strategy at LPi, and the former director of digital operations and sales of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He recently served as the head of digital subscriber churn for Gannett | USA TODAY NETWORK and is now the senior director of retention for The Daily Beast.


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