Industry Voices

Katie Bloor | Head of Optimisation | Daydot

By Jess Browne-Swinburne

21 Apr 2021

We spoke with Head of Optimisation at Daydot about her career, the benefits of being subscription-first and how Artificial Intelligence is the next big thing on her radar.

What made you want to work in publishing?

My role and expertise very much lies in the optimisation of digital customer experiences. So for me, one of the most diverse and exciting places to work is in the publishing industry. It’s such a unique industry, because the business model is made up of so many different revenue streams and KPIs, ranging from affiliates and advertising, all the way through to subscriptions. I love taking what I know about digital experience optimisation and applying it across the subscription customer journey, from creating initial awareness on the digital product, all the way through to how do we retain these subscribers.

I also love that magazines were something we all enjoyed growing up, and however many years later, we’re still enjoying magazines in the exact same format, in pretty much the exact same way. They’ve really stood the test of time.

Chart your career from the start to where you are now.

After finishing my degree in Marketing in 2011, I went on to work at IBM on their graduate scheme, where I was selling their customer analytics solutions. In 2014 I moved to a company called Qubit, where I was selling their A/B testing and personalisation platform. A year later I realised that selling wasn’t for me. But from working at Qubit I found a new passion, which was the world of A/B testing and optimisation, which before Qubit I’d never actually heard of!

In 2015, determined to start a new career path focusing on optimisation strategy and consultancy, I moved to Daydot, who back then were known as House of Kaizen. I started as an Optimisation Manager where the first client I led was News UK (The Times and The Sun) and I supported on other publishing clients, such as Hearst Magazines and Immediate Media. In 2016 I started to manage a team of Optimisation Managers and then in 2017 I became Head of Optimisation, which is the role I’m doing now.

What are the benefits of publishers being subscription-first rather than prioritising advertising?

There are many benefits of taking a subscription-first approach, but I'd say the four main ones are:

o Creating an engaged and loyal subscriber base secures long term recurring revenue and fuels other revenue streams through cross and up sell strategies.

o You can accurately and reliably predict a key revenue stream. When someone subscribes, they have either made an upfront revenue commitment (E.g. 1 year subscription) or based on average churn rate, you can estimate revenue per user, if they were on say a monthly rolling subscription. This predictability is key, as we’ve learnt from the last year!

o Subscription businesses are inherently more flexible. You can change and experiment with your offering based on changes to the market and consumer needs.

o You will see much greater returns on CAC (Customer Acquisition Costs), as by increasing subscriptions, you increase revenue, and therefore profit margins too.

What other revenue generating strategies do subscribers help to fuel?

The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%. Therefore, a key revenue generating strategy for subscribers is cross and up sell. That could be cross-selling to other services, such as an event, or a sister publication, as well as up-selling to a subscription which has more features, for example up-selling from Print to Print and Digital.

Additionally, by creating brand advocates, your subscribers will also fuel referral revenue. And not only that, customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate, and themselves are 4x more likely to go on to refer their friends. The chain reaction is really impressive!

Finally, if you engage subscribers in the right way, you will also see them visit your digital site more. This organically will have a positive impact on your existing advertising and affiliate revenue.

What kind of customer insights do publishers need to look at to drive subscriptions?

To unlock substantial subscription growth, publishers need to be customer-centric. This goes beyond Google Analytics and instead combines a range of methodologies to develop actionable customer insights, which should then fuel decisions made at a business and tactical level. Some of the key insights that publishers need to uncover are:

• The Psychographics – Moving beyond demographic data to understand the attitudes, interests, personality, values, opinions, and lifestyle of your customer.

• The Needs & Motivations – You need to understand the needs of your customers and their motivations for visiting your publication, from the very first brand interaction, through every stage of the customer journey.

• The Barriers – Understand how customers are behaving during the customer journey and identify what the barriers to subscribing are. Typically, these barriers will fall into two categories: Friction and Anxiety.

• The Hooks – Understand what persuaded customers to subscribe and the value they see in their subscription provides really useful insights to help shape your acquisition experience and value proposition messaging.

How is the post-pandemic customer journey different to the pre-pandemic customer journey?

As publishers begin to focus more on subscription revenue, a key change that we started to see during the pandemic, and we’ll continue to see more of, is the introduction of paywalls and datawalls. Requiring visitors to subscribe or provide data to view content, has had a huge impact on the awareness stage of the customer journey.

At the other end of the funnel, we have retention. For many brands, especially those who primarily sell print subscriptions, retention has previously been overlooked. Publications are now realizing that as and when the world comes out the other side of this pandemic, the needs and habits of customers will change again, and that it’s incredibly important to be developing meaningful long-lasting relationships now. Starting with the initial onboarding of the customer.

What’s on your radar?

Something that’s been on my mind for a while is how AI (artificial intelligence) can help assist the work we do for clients. Some clients and prospects I’ve spoken to are interested in AI but unsure how to integrate it into their way of working.

What magazine would you stockpile?

I’m really enjoying Women’s Health at the moment. I subscribed over the Christmas break, driven by the standard over-indulgence (Covid did not get in the way of that!), combined with a desire to focus more on my own health and wellness, highlighted by the pandemic.

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