Why the single view of the customer is the lifeline that publishers need

“With the battle for eyeballs, hearts and minds being as it is, none of us get a lot of chances to mess up,” wrote Darren Goldsby, Hearst Magazines UK’s chief digital officer in Huffington Post last month.

Goldsby cited his journey to work as being the place where this battle is most intense, with fellow travellers glued to their smartphones. “Some 70 percent of our traffic now comes from mobile platforms. But boy do we have to work hard and fast to make sure we keep engaging those readers,” he wrote.

Hearst provides its editorial teams with up-to-the-minute information showing which content is being engaged with and shared the most, and in this way, “journalists’ instincts are enhanced with data,” (Huffington Post, March 2016).

In our latest research — The unfaithful reader — we explore key statistics and trends relating to customer experience in the Publishing industry.  Publishers are finding that the battleground has changed. They can’t win on content and loyalty alone anymore: customers are looking for added value; to be engaged and dazzled in novel ways that keep them coming back for more.

At the same time, with the rise of ad blocking technology, publishers need to find a way to support the commercial needs of the business. Today, that means creating opportunities for advertisers to interact with consumers in relevant and effective ways.

To reach this nirvana of having both a happy and loyal customer base as well as satisfied advertisers, businesses must invest in the customer experience, and in doing so, invest in understanding their data.

Developing a single view of the customer is the end goal. But that’s no easy feat. Data will often sit in silos across domains, departments and devices and an investment in the right infrastructure and partners will be necessary to mobilize it.

Once this granular, holistic representation of the customer is developed, the next step is to be able to action the insights in real-time to produce engaging and contextual experiences across all channels. For example, suppose a customer purchased a holiday on the travel section of the site, and the next day they are browsing the news on their mobile and are served relevant stories for the country they will be travelling to.

Alternatively, a site may use a smartphone’s location to target relevant news to a reader based on where they are. These are the types of experiences that are going to really boost engagement long term.

Producing a single view of customers isn’t something that happens overnight, so what can publishers do while that project is underway?

Here are a few ways we’re seeing our customers use data to drive revenue growth and customer loyalty:

  1.    Using behavioral analytics to predict at risk customers and serve them relevant messaging and offers to prevent churn.
  1.    Predicting which visitors will have a high lifetime value and directing them to the most profitable channels on their sites.
  1.    Using social proof – such as reviews from other people, or social media sharing statistics — to boost engagement with content.
  1.    Serving behavior triggered layers to highlight key USPs for subscriptions to drive conversion.
  1.    Optimizing advertising and editorial space based on adaptive targeting, or customizing content based on behavioral intent.

Download Qubit’s latest research on customer experience in the publishing industry -  The unfaithful reader here.