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The year of loyalty

“Gone are the days of aggregation by small and medium-sized brands. Gone are the days of chasing traffic. Gone are the days of one-size-fits all splashy marketing campaigns.”

Loyalty goes two ways for news organizations. Readers show them loyalty, but increasingly news organizations are learning how important it is to be loyal to their readers. In the next year, the most successful media companies will be the ones that focus on readers who are core to their audience and reward them for their readership.

Gone are the days of aggregation by small and medium-sized brands. Gone are the days of chasing traffic. Gone are the days of one-size-fits all splashy marketing campaigns. Today we are learning how to build targeted relationships with readers. That means finding new ways to reach them — and to keep them coming back.

At Stat, a site devoted to health, medicine and science, we are relentlessly focused on our audience. We publish both free content and paywalled content. For subscribers, we offer exclusive content and access to webinars and events, among other benefits.

But regardless we are determined to make sure readers know we are delivering them value. Every day, we’re thinking not only of what stories to write but a more fundamental question: are readers getting their money’s worth? Every day, we’re thinking of ways to remind readers of the value we’re giving them — not only through the journalism itself but through targeted emails.

Just as critical in attracting a loyal subscriber base is keeping our existing ones loyal. We pride ourselves on doing whatever we can to keep cancellations to a minimum.

The encouraging news is that quality watchdog journalism is fundamental to building loyalty. One running story that has brought Stat more subscribers than we imagined has been our pieces about how the Watson supercomputer wasn’t living up to the lofty expectations that IBM created for its health initiative. Not a story that people need to know for a specific business purpose, but wanted to pay for because of the larger issues it raises about new technology — and hype.

As we all look for sustainable journalism models, we’re finding a solution in our efforts to deliver quality content and build subscriber bases, and I think we’ll see that even more in 2019.

Rick Berke is the executive editor of Stat.

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Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

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Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

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Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

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Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

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John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

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Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   The most beautiful sentence in 2019 is “No.”

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Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Robin Kwong   Tech shouldn’t be the only field pollinating “news nerds”

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat