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Circulation marketing: 5 minutes with… Jamie Wren

Circulation marketing strategies across newsstand and subs should be considered in the round. We grab five minutes with InterMedia’s commercial and marketing director, Jamie Wren, to discuss the benefits of adopting an integrated approach.

By Jamie Wren

Circulation marketing: 5 minutes with… Jamie Wren

Q: Typically, why do some publishers struggle to run integrated circulation strategies?

A: Publishers fall into a number of categories when it comes to size and scope. Those publishers with marketing and circulation departments (of varying sizes) and those without either. A publisher who does not have the luxury of a circulation or marketing team will invariably be reliant on their suppliers to either guide them or offer the consultative partnership approach on their behalf. This will often be with, for example, a newsstand distributor as one supplier and a subscription bureau as a separate additional supplier. Separate service providers will naturally be driven by their own goals and ambitions (not to mention their specific commercials) and incentivised by entirely different strategies. Reliance on either or both to input into these strategies without a cross party discussion will, by the very nature of these businesses result in a fragmented and often polarised strategy.

Q: What is the downside of a lack of integration?

A: Where a circulation strategy is disparate and driven by multiple, unconnected stakeholders, the heaviest impact can be seen through missed or reduced capitalisation of opportunities. Efficient audience growth and the maximising of opportunities is attained through a rounded approach. Understanding the cross marketing potential and the positive impact of timing of activity in any single channel on another can be key to driving increasingly squeezed budgets to the maximum effect.

Customers view any brand as a single entity. Quite understandably, they will have a single minded approach to how they wish to interact with the brand. Failure by a publisher to deliver an integrated strategy will often lead to confused messaging and a fragmented delivery of the brand to the end user. A customer may receive mixed messaging dependent on which channel they are interacting through. A customer may appear in multiple data sets within the publisher’s marketing toolkit which will require cleansing and suppressing. At best, this can be frustrating for a customer – at worst it will cause them to abandon the brand. Winning them back will come at a cost if indeed it is ever possible.

Q: What are the key questions a new publisher should be asking themselves when formulating a circulation strategy?

A: First and foremost, a publisher needs to understand their goals, targets and budgets. Who are they seeking to reach and for what purpose. Their publishing model, though unique to their specific publication, will likely fit into a predefined category of volume or value - or a combination of both. Rationalising the size of audience they wish or need to reach and across which channels - online, retail sales or subscription (free or paid) - is a fundamental indicator as to where the strategy will need to be focused. Aligning this target with a marketing budget is the important next step. Publishers should ask themselves what the budget is and how this can be split across the channels they are seeking to utilise.

Q: What are the hallmarks of a well put together new subscriber acquisition campaign?

A: When reviewing any marketing campaign, specifically an acquisition campaign, the key performance indicators will always be the cost per acquisition and the forecasted revenue generation from each individual. In order to maximise the latter whilst reducing the former it is imperative to get the mix of marketing factors correct. Who is the publisher seeking to acquire? Any number of demographics may form part of this assessment. What does this demographic want from the product? This will drive the messaging of a good campaign to ensure the perceived needs of the audience are met. How much value are they placing on the product we are selling them? A successful campaign will deliver a price point that is in keeping with the expectations. How to best reach the audience and through which communication mechanic is a final key decision to make. Recognising their preferred channel of communication will drastically improve the response rate and deliver a higher number of people to the top of the sales funnel… which is the final piece of the puzzle. Seamless, frictionless onboarding is more important than ever. An uncomplicated, simple sales funnel will drive conversions and further reduce the cost per acquisition. Delivering on the marketing promise and meeting expectations will ensure that once converted, the acquisition campaign can be deemed a success.

Q: For publishers looking to improve their retention rate, what advice would you give them?

A: There are a plethora of reasons why a customer will churn – some of these reasons are within a publisher’s control, some are not. Focus must be on the controllables.

Attract the right customers – if you bring the wrong customers onboard then you will never keep them, regardless of what you do.

Provide a positive onboarding experience – retention starts with the first minutes of interaction.

Poor customer service is a common reason given for a customer departing. Treat them well and listen to their needs – no matter how many times you may have heard them before.

Ensure you meet – and more importantly exceed – the expectations of the customer, both in terms of the experience of purchase but also the delivery of the content and the product throughout the subscription.

Deliver against the value proposition. The customer will have paid a price for the subscription; attached to this will be a perceived value in exchange for this and any ongoing payments. It is key that you deliver against this and critically ensure that the subscription becomes a must have and not a nice to have… competitors will be circling to offer a “better” value option and the customer will always have free choice to choose an alternative.

Remind the customer of why they subscribed – and when they need to renew. Don’t just rely on a renewal series of emails, letters or calls at the end of the life cycle with the product. Retention and engagement through the subscription is all part of a renewal series. Offers, affiliated discounts, additional content can all be offered to the customer throughout the contract – not just at the point that the customer may expire.

The most effective way of ensuring all of these elements can be put into practice comes down to one thing. Listening to what your customers are telling you. And responding!

Q: What is the secret of top notch customer service?

A: ‘The customer is always right’, is a much trumpeted and age old saying that any CEO will drive through to their customer service manager. The basis of this remains true. Critically, it is not just about informing the customer that they are correct – even more important than this is to ensure the customer feels that they have been listened to – and responded to accordingly.

Training for agents to ensure they have absolute clarity on the messaging and brand goals is of course hugely important. Delivering a wide array of contact options through calls, emails, social or online chat ensures that customers feel they can easily reach you; however all of this is only the start of qood quality service.

For every customer who tells you that you are too expensive, there is a customer telling you that they are happy to pay more. For each customer telling you they don’t have time to read your product, there is one asking for more content. The fundamental basis for good customer service is treating each customer as an individual and being able to identify which category they belong to.

Segmentation of customers and the building of a customer profile for each customer is critical to delivering customer service specific to the person on the end of a call or at the other end of an email chain.

Q: What’s in the pipeline from InterMedia?

A: InterMedia continues to seek to deliver an integrated and multichannel approach through our companies within the InterGo group. Along with the newsstand and subscription services provided by InterMedia itself, we continue to deliver cross channel audience reach through InterSend fulfilment services and the direct to consumer offering through Magazine Supermarket via InterDirect. Print media remains a focus across the group however an increasing desire to offer consumers of print publications additional products (affiliated or not) to grow the revenues and consumer offer will ensure that our business will continue to expand outside of traditional publisher offerings in tandem with our clients’ ever changing needs.

About us

InterMedia Brand Marketing Ltd serves the growing circulation marketing needs of independent publishers.

We are the UK’s leading provider of fully integrated circulation marketing and distribution solutions. We service over 80,000 subscriber calls and distribute over 3,000,000 copies every year across 86 countries.

We are forward-thinking with a wealth of experience allowing us to embrace the modern media landscape and deliver cost-effective solutions without compromising on quality. Our team of single discipline experts offer innovative, tailored services. We provide a comprehensive range of circulation marketing and distribution services to help grow total audience across every route to the consumer. Our job is to connect brands with consumers in the most efficient, reliable and cost-effective ways. We enable our clients to get on with what they do best – publishing exciting and successful magazine brands.

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Tel: +44 (0) 1293 312001

You can find out more about InterMedia and InterSend in our Publishing Services Directory.