Local media are exploring some innovative reader revenue strategies, and the best of the best of those ideas will be on display at the upcoming Elevate! conference in Chicago.

A few months ago, the Google News Initiative announced the creation of a Digital Subscriptions Lab in which GNI would develop sustainable and thriving consumer-driven business models for newspapers across North America. As partners in the lab, Local Media Association and FTI Consulting have been working with a group of news media organizations in this program.

At Elevate!, findings and takeaways discovered so far from the work of the GNI Digital Subscriptions Lab will be shared with the audience.

Here’s a look at some of the more promising ideas being discussed by the participating news organizations:

1. User engagement

Increase frequency of visits and depth of engagement by unique visitors once on site by providing unique experiences for different reader segments. Examples could include readers who are in-market vs. out-of-market, and personalized content tailored to audience segments based on previous behavior.

Research from the Northwestern Local News Initiative suggests that frequency of visits to a site is the top signal of propensity to subscribe. Deeper engagement fosters habit-forming behavior that can lead to conversion.

2. Newsletters

Develop stronger direct relationships with readers through newsletters. Consistently monitor behavior to ensure that readers are engaging with newsletters, and consider personalization and curation strategies to generate deeper engagement. Also consider subscriber-only newsletters as an effective means of engagement after conversion that can be utilized as a retention tactic. The Houston Chronicle is testing this idea.

3.  Streamline KPIs 

Make sure everyone in your organization — across all functions — knows your “North Star” metrics, can articulate them, and understands the influence they carry on their specific role. Newsroom, marketing, audience, product, revenue … everyone.

4. Email unlocks the wall

Email gives you a currency of exchange to begin developing a direct relationship with a reader, which ultimately can be monetized in several ways, including and namely through a subscription. A “registration wall” test may lower your meter stop rate in the short term, but knowing the lifetime value of capturing an email address will inform the additional value you’re gaining by building your email database.

5.  Move users to a paid site

Through targeting tactics and content differentiation, move users from free to paid sites under the same media organization’s umbrella.

6. Product offerings 

Test app, premium non-subscriber newsletter, content vertical and/or e-edition pricing to monetize additional users outside of the core bundle. Here are some examples of content vertical work being done in the industry:

7. Membership 

Service the highest-value subscribers through premium content, offerings and experiences to increase retention revenue.

You can register for the Elevate! conference, a partnership of LMA and Local Media Consortium, by clicking here. At Elevate!, you will learn about these consumer revenue ideas and more.