New Publishing Tech
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Q&A: BlueConic, liberating publisher customer data

BlueConic, one of the world’s leading customer data platforms, unifies first-party customer data into persistent, person-level profiles, allowing it to be activated across publishers’ marketing ecosystems. Founded in 2010, the company is headquartered in Boston and includes publishers such as Hearst, Boston Globe and America’s Test Kitchen as clients. WNIP caught up with Michele Szabocsik, VP of Marketing, BlueConic to find out more…

What business problem is your company addressing?

The publishing industry understands well its biggest challenge – how to earn revenue through by turning visitors into paying subscribers. This is the question that is at the heart of most of the publishing industry’s challenges. But at its core this is a problem shared by almost any marketer at any brand – especially those with subscription businesses. The challenge is knowing who the visitor is, being able to understand their complete relationship with the customer and identifying ways to use that information to turn the visitor into a loyal, paying customer (or subscriber).

Companies, including publishers, have large amounts of data on their customers, but they cannot easily correlate that data, identify customers across channels (mobile, email, web browser, etc.) and effectively leverage that data for a consistent and personalized customer experience. Without unified data, publishers can’t provide the right experiences at the precise moment a customer might be ready to subscribe, keep up with changing content preferences, or monetize their data in new ways with consumer consent.

New regulations on data privacy and movement by Google and others to remove cookies only make these problems worse and more difficult to address. With consumer privacy regulations continually changing and becoming more strictly enforced, brands need to establish a value exchange with customers in order to continue to grow their business. 

What is your core product addressing this problem?

For publishers to effectively turn visitors into subscribers and keep them from churning, publishers must make sure that their marketing teams have access to all first-party customer data. Marketers need to be able to access a unified customer profile that they can be confident in and they can effectively use to market to the same visitor across platforms and devices.

At BlueConic, when we say marketers must be confident in the customer data that they have we mean the data must account for consent to use (answer to GDPR and other regulations) and it must be clean and unified across all systems and sources.  

Marketers also need to be able to quickly and effectively leverage the customer data –  we call this utility.  This means the marketers must be able to do a lot with the data – from multi-dimensional segmentation, to analytics and lifecycle orchestration. BlueConic’s CDP liberates customer data making it more accessible and easier to activate across channels for publishers and any brand marketers.

Can you give some examples of publishers successfully using your solution?

Boston Globe Media (BGM) enlisted BlueConic to get a deeper understanding of both its identified and anonymous readers in order to increase online engagement, drive more subscriptions to premium content, and generate higher advertising revenues.

As a result, the digital media and publishing giant is able to increase digital engagement and grow subscriptions through customized signup offers to readers based on their expressed and implied content interests. In fact, BGM has found that readers respond 70% more favorably to relevant messaging and BGM has more than doubled the number of identified readers across its digital properties. You can view an interview with the Boston Globe’s Peter Doucette here.

National Review is an American conservative political opinion and news publication that publishes 24 times a year and produces a 24/7 website.  In 2017, the company realized it needed a complete overhaul of its digital products. This included rethinking and redesigning the product offering, adtech and martech stacks, and website. The publication’s marketers had very little access to data about readers, donors and writers, and could not activate on it easily or effectively.

The company onboarded BlueConic to start collecting in-depth user data and provide insights for the new website and digital product offering. Then National Review integrated BlueConic into its adtech and martech stacks. This became the driving technology behind their new digital subscription offering.

National Review saw strong results from the effort, including:

  • Subscriber acquisition and ROI:  increased subscriptions 4x without paid marketing efforts
  • Website traffic:  improved nearly every major performance and traffic metric, including unique visits, sessions, sessions per user, and pages per sessions.
  • Email acquisition and performance:  doubled email open rates and increased email generated pageviews 4x in partnership with Sailthru and BlueConic.
  • Revenue:  increased webathon donor revenue by 2.5x.

Pricing?

Pricing is available at https://www.blueconic.com/pricing/

What are other people doing in the space and why?

Every marketing technology company wants to call itself a CDP and is striving to help marketers capture, react to and act upon the immense amount of customer data available to them. But with such a crowded market, it’s difficult for buyers to understand what a true CDP is – and what value you should expect to get from one. While there are different flavors of CDPs – those that emerged from operational data management systems, personalization engines, or pure-play CDPs, brands that are looking to unify their data and do something with it without sacrificing data quality, lag time, or persistent, historic data should look to pure-play CDPs.

The publishing industry is beginning to figure out how to monetize its content and data; and effectively win and retain subscribers. Publishing is moving in the right direction. The next step for the industry is to get more actionable on customer data, and more personalized. To do this, publishers can leverage tools like BlueConic’s AI workbench to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to make real-time suggestions and inferences based on individual customer identity.

Thank you.

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