Recently Sailthru’s EVP of Customer Success (and email strategy wizard) Cassie Lancellotti-Young teamed up with our partner BounceX for a webinar to discuss a challenge on every publisher’s mind: How to deal with declining revenue per visitor and growing competition for reader attention.

Together with BounceX’s Co-founder and CEO Ryan Urban, Cassie tackled some big issues publishers are looking to solve in the coming year. Read on to find out Ryan and Cassie’s thoughts on how media and publishing companies can continue to modernize their business models while increasing revenue, reader engagement, and more.

Alleviating Publishers’ Pain

A large percentage of digital news traffic, in some cases as much as 80%, is being referred by Google and Facebook. In this day and age, there is a critical need to regain control of your traffic and audience. Creating a strategy that ensures readers with high intent return to your site may seem daunting and once they’ve returned, there is the other challenge of keeping that engagement ongoing.

Ensuring that relevant content gets in front of your readers quickly is crucial to maintaining the cycle of engagement. So, where should your team be focusing? Email. Specifically email that is tailored to the interests, behaviors and history of your readers.

The Onsite Acquisition Game

Circulating readers with high intent back to your site is top of mind for every publisher, but step one is understanding what a valuable reader looks like. And once you’ve done that, how do you elevate their interest enough so they are primed to subscribe? Ryan and Cassie say marketers must take a step back and assess their acquisition strategies at large.

Rather than going after a large quantity of subscribers, refocus on acquiring quality readers that match the profile of your high traffic and frequency readers. Compelling content is important, but if you’re not bringing in the right type of people who are most likely to become loyal readers, you’ll be stuck in the hamster wheel of needing to constantly bring in new readers to supplement the churn.

Cassie says one of the best ways to do this is to look at your best customers today and build lookalike audiences through historical and predictive data and acquire them via those main traffic centers, Facebook and Google. (Hint: Sailthru partners with both Facebook and Google to help you do this!)  

Behavioral Email: The Solution Publishers Need

Cassie and Ryan agree — and just about every statistic out there corroborates — that email remains the best way to get a message in front of an audience. With the growth of mobile, it’s even stronger; more than 60% of email opens now are coming from mobile devices.

This means there is a huge opportunity to nurture your readers and begin to build 1:1 profiles on your readers, Ryan says. If you believe you are underutilizing email programs, we encourage you to take a note from commerce companies who are offering extensive lifecycle programs.

A few simple areas to start include:

  • Offering a welcome series of emails to new subscribers
  • Developing automated re-engagement messages for readers whose engagement may have dropped off
  • Using personalized send time – open rates are materially higher when email is sent at relevant times
  • Using behavioral predictions – this will allow for the suppression of those who may have high likelihood to opt-out

For more high-impact strategies and best practices on how you can be utilizing behavioral email to drive success, check out our guides to Increasing Traffic from Email and to Increasing Repeat Visits.