Media & Entertainment

Keep Them Reading (and Watching and Listening) With Personalized Messaging

Todd Grennan By Todd Grennan May 13, 2016

Media consumption has changed in a big way.

It’s still possible to read a newspaper from front to back, of course, or to let a television network decide what order you watch its TV shows in. But the rise of mobile technology and other digital mediums has made it easier for people to engage with the content they’re interested in when and how they prefer. And that’s increasingly the way the world is moving.

That kind of control can be great for consumers. But it’s sometimes scary for media brands. Someone who buys a copy of a newspaper because they’ve been grabbed by the front page headline is probably going to flip through the paper, giving additional pieces the opportunity to earn that reader’s attention. On the other hand, if they see that same headline on Twitter and check out the piece on your website, all the other digital distractions out there—open tabs, push notifications from other brands, and more—make it easier for them to move on once they’ve finished reading.

Some brands try to combat these issues by making high-interest, low-difficulty content—reality TV coverage, for example—a major part of their content mix. But relying on that approach too much can be a risky strategy. “If you only have clickbait stories,” Jimmy Maymann, executive vice president and president, AOL Content & Consumer Brands, told attendees at Collision Conference 2016 in New Orleans, “if that has been your strategy to drive the biggest possible audience… your audience will not stay with you; they will go somewhere else.”

Media brands have always needed to attract an audience, and serving up content that captures people’s attention has always been part of that equation. But in today’s media environment, it’s not enough to pull in new readers with a piece of content—you need ways to educate them about the rest of your content offerings and encourage the kind of deep, consistent engagement that results in long-term retention.

That’s where smart customer messaging comes in.

Drive additional content engagement with multichannel messaging

Think back to that person consuming content on your website after clicking on a link from Twitter. If you want them to engage with more content from your brand during their visit, consider targeting them with a multichannel messaging campaign promoting more of your content.

By triggering an in-app or in-browser message promoting additional content when someone finishes with the content that brought them to your app or website and pairing that message with News Feed Cards displaying a variety of additional content options, you’ll have multiple opportunities to reach and nudge people to consume more content, increasing the odds that they become more involved with your brand. In fact, research carried out by Appboy found that use of multiple messaging channels can increase customer retention rates by 130%, compared to an increase of 71% when a single channel is used.

Fit the content to the user with personalization

While multichannel messaging can give your brand the opportunity to drive deeper engagement with the rest of your content offerings, this tool can’t reach its full potential unless the content that users are nudged towards is likely to interest them. Personalization can do a lot to address this issue. By dynamically customizing the content that users are shown based on the content they’ve consumed during this visit (and any previous interactions with your brand), you can significantly increase the odds that they engage with the content-promoting messages you send.

Imagine that a user came to your site to read an article about the Kardashians. If you use personalization to ensure that the additional content that you’re highlighting is relevant to their browsing behavior and interests—such as an article on the anniversary of the O.J. Simpson verdict or a music video from Kanye’s new album—you’re making it more likely that they keep engaging. The numbers back that up: Appboy’s research has found that personalizing messages increases conversions by more than 27%.

Anything else?

Media brands are always working to grow and maintain a strategic target audience while continually refining content and outreach for that audience. Even the best messaging strategy can only work if your brand is creating content that resonates with the people consuming it—after all, how many people are going to be interested in seeing more content from you if they hated the first thing they read or watched or listened to?
So when it comes to encouraging users to engage more deeply with your brand’s content offerings, remember that personalized multichannel campaigns are a powerful tool—but they’re not a magic bullet. Not every user will bite. Not every message will work the way you want it to. But if you keep your users’ experiences in mind, use testing to optimize your outreach, and pay attention to how consistently your audience engages with your brand, you’re on the right track.

Todd Grennan

Todd Grennan

Todd Grennan is a New York-based writer and editor. When he's not writing about mobile marketing, customer retention and emerging technologies for Braze, you can find him trying to read his way through every Wikipedia article related to World War II.

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