Welcome, Inform, Monitor and Target to Ensure Onboarding Success

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"The first 30 days of our relationship with a subscriber is crucial as this is when churn is at its highest. Subscribers are figuring out how they want to use our products and how the different platforms fit their lifestyle and add value to their day. Therefore, we must make quick and tactical work of the time we have to lay out the best welcome mat and create a Globe habit in the daily routines of new subscribers."

This quote comes from Katrina Bolak, manager, customer onboarding and engagement, for The Globe and Mail in Toronto, in an article on the INMA site.

What she says next might be most important. "The first 30 days of the subscriber experience is highly protected, and we ensure no other emails are sent outside of the onboarding experience. This move has helped ensure a clean test environment and refines the experience for subscribers."

One of the most anticipated sessions at our Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) starting in Hollywood, Fla., on Monday is First 100 Days: How to Keep Your New Customers Happy, Engaged and Renewed with Bill Haight, president of Magna Publications, and Jim Sinkinson of Fired Up Marketing. To preview this session, here are some tips from Sinkinson and Haight along with more from Bolak

1. Target. From a data perspective, this [opening 30-day] period is also crucial for us to gather patterns of user behavior," Bolak continued. "We need 30 days of data to accurately serve up future content based on interests and for our e-mail segmentation." After that, content consumption patterns begin to form—good and bad. "For example, we might note a subscriber reads articles in our Opinion and Life sections on a weekly basis. Observing these reading habits helps us contextually target future content to send to subscribers as part of the next step."

2. Continue to market. "Market your editorial consistently to your existing readers," Sinkinson has said. "You sold them a subscription, you're sending it to them digitally or by print. Don't take for granted that just because they paid for it that they're going to read it. And if they don't read it, they won't renew." He also asserts that you should be marketing your articles not the publications. It's the articles that provide the benefits.

3. Monitor. After 60 days, "we are also monitoring for lapses in log-ins," Bolak said. "If we notice subscribers have not logged in for more than 30 days, it's time to deploy an email with content aligning with their interests. This tactic has been proven to improve log-ins among [these] subscribers."

4. Find a champion. "There should be one person to spread the word" about your content and benefits," said Haight, speaking of his own university audiences. "They're not going to renew if they're not using your stuff, so you have to keep reminding them. We send out a certificate to that person. It looks professional and valuable and something that shouldn't be thrown away." He'll remind them that "you are the group administrator, and it's your job to let others there know about the resources you have." If their job changes, make sure they let you know. "You're the champion of this product."

5. Offer access. In the initial onboarding, "the language is simple, welcoming and transparent," Bolak said, "and ensures ease of access to our customer care team should they have any questions."

6. Review. "Take a look at all of your welcome letters," Haight said. "Your confirmation letters, instruction letters, and have your very best copywriter go through them and brush them up. A typical letter might say: 'Thank you. We have received your registration for the conference. Here's the date, blah, blah, blah. See you in Orlando.' A really good copywriter might say, 'You should be looking forward to a life-changing experience coming up. We're so happy you took advantage of this. You're going to meet some great people...'"

7. Inform. Through a series of emails and a mailed welcome card, the Globe and Mail thanks the new subscriber and directs her to their member benefits Web page, newsletter sign-up page, and instructions for their app and digital newspaper replica, Globe2Go.

8. Go beyond content. Sinkinson said that customers want something to change. They spend money and expect something to happen. "People do not buy your content because it is content. They want benefits. Knowledge is sufficient but it is not enough. It doesn't take you anywhere. You have to tell people what to do with it."


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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…