For publishers, there’s nothing more frustrating than investing time and effort crafting unique, engaging, and valuable content, only for its potential to be stifled by inconsistent and unreliable technology.
Access to reliable technologies and tools is important for any business, but for those monetizing audiences through membership and subscription, its importance is even more pronounced. Creating content and building engaged communities is challenging enough without being held back by sub-par tools that risk hurting sales and revenue, jeopardizing audience experiences and relationships, and creating unnecessary complications.
Common frustrations with membership and subscription platforms include service outages, janky login systems, patchy content protection, slow-loading page elements, buggy backend features, missing or infrequently refreshed data, poor mobile experiences, and more.
New publisher monetization tools are hitting the market rapidly, and the speed and fashion in which they’re being developed often result in a lack of performance and reliability. Promises of full-featured, fully baked, and highly stable features at bargain-basement prices are typically too good to be true, and publishers that place too much emphasis on price during their selection process often learn the hard way that you get what you pay for when it comes to monetization tools.
Any publisher looking to build a sustainable long-term subscription or membership business should think carefully about reliability when selecting software tools to power it. Unreliable technology risks stifling publisher products in a few significant ways:
It undermines content quality and dents audience perception
Independent shouldn’t mean unprofessional, and high-quality content is easily undermined by sub-par user experiences caused by unreliable technology. Conversely, investing in consistent and reliable tools helps build trust and credibility with audiences, and often enables smaller publishers and creators to “punch above their weight” in terms of the experiences they deliver members.
Users’ expectations are also elevated when they’re asked to pay for content. Audiences are far more forgiving of weak technology if content is offered to them for free, but when paying a premium they expect the ability to check out, log in and access the features they’ve paid for seamlessly and effortlessly. Reliable technology can quickly become a competitive differentiator as a result.
It hurts revenue and leads to missed opportunities
Independent publishers need technology they can trust to help them squeeze as much value as possible from their content, and ensure that revenue is never left on the table. Every audience interaction and touchpoint counts – particularly for those with smaller or more focussed audiences and communities – and as competition for attention online continues to intensify the last thing publishers should worry about is revenue and audience engagement opportunities slipping through their fingers. Audiences are more forgiving of technology weaknesses when buying from smaller entities, but those weaknesses ultimately hurt publishers’ ability to compete with entities offering more polished and dependable experiences and products.
It generates costly customer service and operational overheads
For any publisher, the more time spent creating and promoting content, the better. Dealing with frustrated subscribers, grappling with technical issues, and implementing manual workarounds (or paying someone else to do it) is never a good use of time or money, and is by no means the basis for a scalable business. Any effective subscription and membership platform should help free up time for creators and publishers to focus on what they do best: creating valuable content and experiences for their audiences and communities. Running a subscription business with unreliable technology inevitably sucks up time, resources, and – most importantly – attention.
It limits the ability for publishers’ businesses to grow effectively
Any sustainable publishers’ business is built on technology it can grow into, and that can scale effectively to accommodate growing audiences and evolving needs. Headaches created by reliability issues can compound as audiences and revenues grow, and small inconveniences can quickly escalate into significant headwinds that threaten to suffocate businesses. Publishers that opt to tolerate poor reliability typically find they’re forced to go through the (sometimes cumbersome and expensive) process of migrating their operations to more reliable tools down the road anyway.