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Audience Subscriptions: Drive Success for Your Content Product

Audience Subscriptions: Drive Success for Your Content Product

The meteoric rise of Instagram's Threads has taken the social media world by storm. In less than three weeks since its launch, the app has amassed an astonishing 112 million users, which continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. 

Threads now ranks as the 34th largest social platform, nestled between Tumblr (33rd) and Stack Exchange (35th). It is rapidly approaching Discord's 150 million user base. But what does this remarkable growth represent in terms of real value?

Keep reading to find out.

Threads Demonstrates the Immense Value of a Subscribed Audience

Social media platforms frequently gauge their performance by assessing the average revenue generated per user (ARPU) weekly, monthly, or quarterly. By the end of the first quarter of 2023, Meta's quarterly ARPU for Facebook and Instagram users in the United States and Canada reached an impressive $48.85.

Although Meta has indicated it won't introduce ads on Threads until the following year, hypothetically, if it did, the initial average revenue per user might resemble Twitter's quarterly ARPU, which was approximately $4.96 based on some of the most recent publicly available data.

Let's conduct some quick estimates. If Threads achieved a quarterly ARPU of $5 upon its launch, the company would have generated over $2 billion in annual revenue ($500 million per quarter multiplied by four) during the two-week period when over 100 million users downloaded the app.

This remarkable accomplishment underscores the substantial value of having a committed, engaged, and reachable audience.

Media Companies Harness the Power of Subscribed Audiences to Drive New Projects

Media companies have long grasped the link between established audiences and fresh offerings.

Take the notion of a "lead-in" audience in television's annals. Networks historically banked on this strategy to boost the prospects of a new series. They'd position the show to follow their most popular program.

Consider Seinfeld's early struggles on Wednesday nights. Despite the lackluster performance, NBC's decision to air it after summer reruns of the hit comedy Cheers prompted a notable shift. Viewers' reactions convinced the network to greenlight more episodes. Upon returning to Wednesday nights, Seinfeld ascended to the top 30 shows by viewership. By its fourth season, it moved to Thursdays, following Cheers, resulting in a substantial ratings surge that eventually eclipsed its lead-in audience.

This phenomenon reverberates across contemporary media landscapes. Movie studios engineer "universes" to acquaint audiences with a character before catapulting them into standalone movies and series across platforms. Streaming giants like Netflix and Disney+ harness audience data to shape narratives, assemble talent, and steer development and licensing decisions.

This alchemy underpins advertising and sponsorships. Brands shell out to advertise because it's more cost-effective to "rent" an audience already engaged with a media company's content than to cultivate that audience and attention from scratch.

Engaged, Subscribed Audiences Fuel New Product Success for Brands

For over a decade, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) has been a vocal advocate of this model. Establishing rapport with a committed, subscribed audience typically commences when a business reimagines its email newsletters, blogs, resource hubs, or digital magazines to offer genuine value to readers rather than inundating them with sales pitches.

The content advocate persuades executives of the significance of content marketing using this rationale: "If we can cultivate X number of audience visits or Y number of subscribers, we can convert that into Z number of potential customer opportunities."

Yet, the real challenge lies in cultivating the initial audience and nurturing it into a community that eagerly engages with your brand, resonates with your message, and trusts you to deliver value consistently.

Unfortunately, this often marks the conclusion of the discourse. However, media companies comprehend that the inception of an audience merely ignites the magic. Engaged audiences act as flywheels, exponentially augmenting the value your business generates.

Subscribed Audiences Lift New Content to New Heights

Over a decade, the Cleveland Clinic's Health Essentials blog amassed a considerable monthly audience of 12 million visitors. Yet, when it revamped its health library site, the audience surged from 200,000 to a remarkable 2 million monthly visitors in a mere three years.

But what fueled this exponential growth of the health library audience over the blog? It harnessed the power of a lead-in, or existing, audience.

Consider a recent case of a nonprofit employing two donation strategies. While it executed seasonal campaigns through traditional advertising and paid social media promotion, it also attracted a small yet loyal cohort of monthly donors via its website.

With a revitalized audience development strategy, the organization expanded its email list from 10,000, predominantly comprising monthly donors, to over 30,000 subscribers within two years. It adeptly converted many of these subscribers into monthly donors, outpacing the efficiency of traditional advertising. Moreover, leveraging insights from its subscribed audience enhanced the efficacy of its paid media spending.

When the nonprofit promoted its new podcast to its thirty thousand email subscribers, it swiftly cultivated a listening audience of 3,500 followers within the initial eight weeks. This podcast not only augmented its monthly donor group but fostered a deeper, more intimate connection between the organization and its listeners.

Understanding Your Current Position is the First Step

Research shows that acquiring a new customer can be anywhere from five to 25 times pricier than retaining an existing one, contingent upon your industry.

Customers undoubtedly contribute to your business's prosperity by purchasing your products and services. However, if you broaden your perspective, you'll realize that audiences play a similar role. They enrich your business by streamlining marketing and sales processes, furnishing valuable insights to engage customers more effectively, and even generating additional revenue.

This underscores the true business rationale for content marketing. An audience evolves into one of the most valuable assets of a company. This understanding has been ingrained and measured by media companies for years.

You, too, can embrace this viewpoint. What's your average revenue per audience (ARPA)? The journey to cultivating your first valuable audience will inevitably entail numerous challenges and adventures. Yet, once you achieve this milestone, the process becomes smoother and more expedient.

Drive New Product Success

The stunning success of Instagram's Threads is a powerful reminder of the immense value a subscribed, engaged, and addressable audience can bring to a business. As media companies have long understood, leveraging existing audiences to drive new product success is a proven strategy that brands can emulate.

By building a relationship with an engaged, subscribed audience and delivering consistent value, businesses can create a flywheel effect that propels new content and products to new heights. The real business case for content marketing is recognizing that an audience is one of a company's most valuable assets.

Remember that understanding your current position is the first step. Embrace the challenges and adventures ahead, knowing that the road to your first valuable audience may be challenging, but the rewards are worth the effort.

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