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How Bloomberg develops products to boost subscriptions

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How Bloomberg develops products to boost subscriptions
2022-12-13. In early December, Bloomberg Media CEO M. Scott Havers told staff in a memo that the company now has more than 450,000 subscribers. At our recent Congress, Julia Beizer, Bloomberg’s Chief Product Officer, described how their product development is helping drive that success.

by Brian Veseling brian.veseling@wan-ifra.org | December 13, 2022

Above, Julia Beizer at the World News Media Congress in Zaragoza, Spain. Image by Asier Alcorta for WAN-IFRA.

“First and foremost, we invest heavily in products that reinforce our brand and drive engagement,” Beizer said.

For example, Bloomberg has put a lot of work into their Markets experience, “not just on our Markets pages, but across our ecosystem over the last year,” she said.

The goal of this is two-fold.

First, financial data is Bloomberg’s core business and they want to maintain the focus on that.

“It’s important that we reinforce this in every page that a user is on and have our finger on the pulse of what’s happening,” Beizer said.

Furthermore, since the markets are constantly changing, they drive repeat visits, “and that’s a really important KPI as we start to think about people who will ultimately subscribe,” she added.

Strong focus on utility and delivery

Second, Beizer, who is also the company’s Global Head of Digital, said they are highly focused on the concepts of utility and delivery.

“We’ve done a lot of research about our users and potential users, and the single most motivating insight from my perspective, has been that our audience is looking for ‘a news source that will help me get ahead,’” she said.

Bloomberg has done a few things to help achieve this goal for both the company and its consumers, she said.

“Most recently, we’ve just relaunched a tool called WealthScore, where users take a quiz and we benchmark their personal finance goals against certain benchmarks from across the globe,” she said.

In terms of delivery, Beizer said the company has invested heavily in this area, particularly around email, but also push.

“What I like about newsletters as a format is in addition to being very buzzy within our space, they work for consumers. Instead of requiring consumers to carve out time in their day to come visit us, newsletters go to them,” she said.

User experience, personalisation help inform coverage

Bloomberg also puts a major emphasis on user experience.

“We’re really bullish on the concept of personalisation and customisation for our user base,” Beizer said. “We think that helps achieve the value proposition of ‘it helps me get ahead.’ So we have invested heavily in kind of personalised sections of all of our major services.”

This insight has also helped inform their coverage, she said, and lead them to invest in, for example, careers-focused content.

3 key lessons learned

In terms of lessons learned, Beizer said there have been too many to count, but she offered these as her top three.

1- Test and learn is a mindset and not a religion.

While testing is crucial to product development, it can also be taken too far.

“Test and learn is a real tenet of product thinking, but I’ve noticed this of late, that I think particularly with people relatively new to the workforce, testing becomes a crutch,” she said.

She added that she is working with her team “to help them develop and cultivate their informed instincts so they can make better product work when they don’t have all the data they wish they had.”

2- Growth hacks work, until they don’t.

Nearly all publishers are under pressure to increase their subscriber numbers, but Beizer said it is also important to keep things in perspective.

“It’s very easy, relatively speaking, to drive subscription growth with very tight paywalls and low cost offers, but these kinds of hacks aren’t sustainable,” she said.

While noting that she’s very fortunate in her position to be able to focus on the long-term, she said, in reality, “All of us need to focus on the long term: deepening our engagement with users, getting to know them better and then serving them what they need.”

3- User experience is a choice to make daily.

The focus on the consumer and their experience is something that needs constant care and attention.

“It’s very easy and very tempting to compromise your user experience in pursuit of revenue and pursuit of growth,” she said. “But this is a slippery slope, it’s very difficult to climb back from once you have tumbled down it. So, the lesson I take away from that is keep putting your user as your north star and evangelising that within the organisation.”

Source: https://wan-ifra.org/2022/12/how-bloomberg-develops-products-to-boost-subscriptions/

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