Sentinel Colorado, in Denver, engaged BlueLena to implement and manage its audience insight, brand strategy and campaign management.
In January 2020, Sentinel Colorado partnered with BlueLena to deploy its solutions to:
> Convert anonymous site visitors to registered users.
> Invite those readers to donate and support its mission of providing high-quality local reporting affordably to its market.
> Generate valuable audience insights and engagement metrics to inform ongoing product and brand development strategies.
Sentinel Colorado does not regard user registration as a strategy, but instead as a mechanism to create deeper relationships with its readers in order to fulfill its mission of providing relevant news and information, and fund high quality journalism. Accordingly, it needed to deploy a simple, frictionless registration process that allowed a reader to easily create an account and then proceed on to their article views.
What once was a painstaking, lengthy and costly process to install a registration and access control system onto a publisher's website can now be configured and operational in a few hours while delivering immediate results.
Sentinel Colorado is an independently-owned, award-winning daily news site based in Denver, CO that also publishes a free weekly newspaper. Its site traffic averages between 100,000-150,000 unique visitors each month, and it offers a portfolio of email newsletters to its registration database, which prior to our launch consisted of around 4,000 members.
Sentinel Colorado had never experimented with a paid digital content strategy, so they were eager to determine whether the registration process and voluntary donation appeal would generate meaningful results. But given their limited resources, they needed a strategic and collaborative partner to project manage the program design, setup, implementation, execution and ongoing management of not only the technology, but of their marketing, creative and messaging strategy. They turned to BlueLena.
As a certified partner of Pico, BlueLena deploys its registration and monetization software to power user registration, subscription, membership and donation programs on behalf of its clients. Pico is the brainchild of fellow Stanford graduates and co-founders Jason Bade and Nick Chen. Their objective is to design tools that empower online businesses to be built around audience relationships (amen to all of that).
Pico features one-click registration and login methods via Google, Facebook or user-submitted email address, which then instantaneously creates a user profile that allows readers to manage their newsletter schedules and payment preferences. Pico's site tracking code captures user engagement data that can be used to create audience segments based on content tags and categories.
Pico also provides a real-time integration directly with Mailchimp that BlueLena has configured to engage with customers through a complete onboarding series that welcomes the reader, encourages them to activate all user benefits, and reinforces the journalistic mission of Sentinel Colorado while inviting them to make a voluntary donation.
In the month since launch, Sentinel Colorado's registration database has added nearly 6,000 new registered users, which represents a 300% growth rate. More importantly the engagement data we have compiled is informing immediate opportunities with audience, product and revenue growth strategies. This is achieved by connecting the registration data from Pico with Google Analytics and creating a comprehensive audience dashboard (via Tableau) that displays key insights across a range of demographics, engagement, geographic, device and referral source data, among other criteria.
The image gallery below shows examples of the site registration and donation process, as well as how we are translating this data into actionable insights, all as a function of the system's effectiveness with converting anonymous site visitors to registered users through customizable rules-based and engagement-driven prompts.
The success of user registration and audience monetization strategies is crucial for the long-term viability of not only local media, but any organization that relies on direct consumer revenues to fund their business.
"It’s a brave, scary new world," said editor Dave Perry. "What journalists accept is that failure is not an option. The stakes are too high even with endless challenges. If you value freedom, truth and honesty, then support, subscribe, donate, patronize and engage with a newspaper. We are thrilled with the early success with the BlueLena partnership, and we are very excited to be collaborating with their team of experts."
If you are a digital media company or any business that has prioritized registration, engagement and monetization of your audience as part of your business strategy, we would love to discuss best practices and ways that we might help accelerate your own transformation. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org