Secrets to securing a sustainable subscriber base

    Last updated: June 7, 2024

    Longevity is the name of game for new media companies. The less you need to depend on costly subscriber acquisition campaigns, the more flexibility you have to grow your business, from creating new content and expanding into new verticals, experimenting with different content formats to hosting events, or attracting more lucrative advertisers. 

    All this sounds simple in theory. But as with most things in media, success comes down to execution. In this post, we’ll give you practical ways to attract and retain your audience for the long term. 

    Audit your current audience 

    You can’t make an informed decision about your strategy without a clear picture of your current audience. Checking in on your audience demographics, behaviors and needs will help you identify new expansion opportunities and gaps in your content strategy. From there, you can improve your content and customer experience and ultimately drive retention. 

    Master subscription models: 9 Proven tactics to skyrocket retention & revenue:

    Here’s where to start: 

    Touch up your audience personas. Using information from your customer data platform, review and update your audience personas. It’s possible that you’ve attracted readers from new industries, locations or jobs in response to changes in your broader market. And your content strategy will need to evolve alongside with your audience.

    Don’t have enough information about your audience? Build up your first-party data with these tried-and-true tactics: 

    • Consider gating more of your premium content. 
    • If you don’t want to charge for subscriptions, or you’re worried that a paywall will hurt your traffic, consider using a registration wall on your website. This prompts readers to sign up for an account in order to access your content. While this still interrupts the user experience, it requires less time and resources from your audience than a straight paywall. With this middle ground option, you can get the information you need to improve your user experience without sacrificing your traffic and ad numbers. 
    • Review the forms on your gated content, email sign-up and other landing pages to make sure you’re collecting the most useful data points about your audience members. To collect more information over time, consider varying your fields between your forms (for instance, requiring “job title” and “industry” on one form and “industry” or “referral source” on another). 
    • Trigger polls during your webinars to collect more specific information about your viewers. 

    If you’re an Omeda user, query your audience by engagement level (you can search  by number of engagements, depth of engagement, or a combination of other related factors). Isolate your most engaged audience, then identify what qualities they have in common. Maybe they all came from the same referral source or have common job titles or demographics. From there, you can build your strategy around that profile. 

    Conduct a competitive analysis: On any given day, what’s convincing your audience to read your content over our competitors? This question needs to be top of mind as you iterate on your audience strategy. 

    So every quarter, audit your competitors to see how they’re talking to your shared target audience. What topics are they covering? What kind of expertise do they offer? What tone, formats and research are they using to get their point across? What strategies are they using to promote sharing and spark website traffic? 

    The key to standing out in a saturated market is zigging where everyone else is zagging. Once you know what direction everyone else is moving in, you can find a new direction — and find your biggest fans. 

    Prevent involuntary churn 

    Building a long-term subscriber base isn’t just about getting new audiences — it’s about avoiding the unforced errors that drive subscribers away. Some of the biggest culprits: expirations and failed payments. If you lose a customer every time their subscription ends, or they change their credit card information, you’re constantly taking one step forward and two steps back. You’ll be stuck chasing new customers to replace your churned ones rather than proactively growing your business. Address these concerns by: 

    Integrating your subscription management tool with your database so you can create targeted payment reminders and payment recovery emails more easily. (That’s why Omeda combines an audience database, subscription management tool, and email and marketing automation platform into one solution.) 

    Automating your payment recovery process. Create a series of automated emails reminding anyone with a failed payment to update their credit card information and submit their payment. This is easy in theory. But it’s hard to execute this workflow quickly enough to recover payments if you’re processing subscription payments through one platform, managing audience data on another platform, and sending emails through a third.

    You can’t afford to waste time on data transfers when your revenue is on the line. But there’s a better way: On Omeda, you can query your full database for anyone with a failed payment, then target those users with an automated email sequence covering email and your website — all without leaving the Omeda database.

    Target people with expiring credit cards with reminders to update their information, using website personalizations (pop-ups) or a series of automated emails. On Omeda, you can create both of these messages within a single campaign. Run it on autopilot and you can retain subscribers with less stress and manual work. On Omedea, you can also adjust the targeting, frequency and formatting of your personalizations to maximize responses and recover the most revenue.  

    Experiment with platform-native content 

    Since the dawn of social media, audience acquisition has looked something like this for many publishers: 

    Step 1: Promote our posts on social media

    Step 2: Generate traffic to our website 

    Step 3: Engage that audience with personalized content, email outreach and ads for subscription packages 

    Step 4: Profit! 

    That pipeline is becoming less and less effective as social traffic to news websites plummets. But after investing years into your social presence, you can’t just abandon those channels entirely, either.

    So how can you continue to engage and drive long-term traffic from your social media audience? Shift toward a platform-native approach (i.e., post content that doesn’t link directly back to your site). This way, you can continue nurturing your social media audience without depending on them to drive web traffic and ad impressions. 

    “But how am I supposed to get my social audience to visit my site and subscribe?” you i might be asking. Here’s how to drive cross-channel engagement from your social followers: 

    • Summarize your article in a SlideShare. Tell your followers they can get similar insights by subscribing to your newsletter, then link it in the comments. 
    • Summarize research reports in your social posts, then encourage readers to visit your website for access to the full report. 
    • Post your article on social, then mention all the subscriber-exclusive add-ons that readers can get on your website. 

    Lean on interactive content 

    The most successful creators are the ones that can interrupt someone’s scrolling spree and entice them to engage through multiple senses. Interactive content is the best way to achieve this. To encourage engagement and repeat visits, consider incorporating quizzes, surveys, video and clickable carousels into your content strategy (bonus: with the first two options, you also get more first-party data that you can use to further strengthen your strategy). 

    Create a community 

    Think about your favorite neighborhood coffee shop. Why do you make the trip just so you can spend 10 times as much on an espresso than you would at home? Chances are, it’s because of the vibes: the shop has a warm atmosphere, the baristas are friendly and you can see people from your neighborhood in the middle of their daily routines.

    Here, the sense of community adds value to your experience. And sometimes, that alone can convince you to pay more for a product than you would otherwise.

    Apply this thinking to your publication: The more your audience can connect to your brand, and one another, the more likely they’ll be to stick around long term. Below are some high- and low-budget ways to cultivate a sense of community among your readers. 

    • Create a subscriber-exclusive community on Slack or a similar platform 
    • Promote your most popular writers on TikTok, Instagram,, Twitter/X and/or LinkedIn. Encourage them to share their pieces and take questions and comments from readers. 
    • Host fireside chats for subscribers or your entire base. If it aligns for your publication’s focus, take questions from the audience.  
    • If your budget allows, host quarterly events or an annual conference with ample networking. 
    • Host virtual networking circles (if applicable)
    • Create a subscriber-exclusive job board (if applicable)

    Invest in partnerships 

    Subscriber acquisition is key to survival for every media business. But subscriber acquisition costs are on the rise — and throwing dollars at uncertain acquisition campaigns will blow up your budget without new audience members to show for it.

    So how can you attract new audiences without risking your budget? Collaborate with other creators/companies. Usually, we’ll see companies partner up to host webinars/podcasts, host events, create guest posts for each others’ newsletters, or write partnered blog posts on each others’ sites. In most cases, each participant can market to their partner’s contact list and attract a best-fit audience that 

    There are a few different benefits here: 

    • Unless you’re covering breaking news, at some point you’ll cover the same topics and ideas. Some repetition is just part of having a specific niche, but your subscribers could disengage if your content gets too stale. Partnering with different creators and organizations naturally exposes you to different voices and topics, even if you’re covering the same general field. This keeps your content fresh and keeps your subscribers actively engaged. 
    • Pick the right partner and you’ll get access to a highly targeted audience of new people that are likely to be interested in your content and subscription package. With targeted follow-up and personalized content, you can turn many of those new contacts into long-term readers and subscribers. So compared to broadly targeted paid advertising campaigns, partnerships are typically more cost-effective long term. 
    • Partnerships allow you to address new topics and, in turn, pick up new advertisers. 

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