How ALM Is Converting Social Media Followers into Paid Subscribers

Social media is often touted for its ability to bring new eyeballs to sites and drive traffic, but whether social activity is actually converting followers into new subscribers is still unclear for many publishers. Did that tweet about an upcoming event drive registrations? Did a giveaway online actually bump up subscriptions? These are the questions that ALM’s digital marketing manager Alexandra Thaler is striving to answer. In her role, Thaler is responsible for lead generation and customer acquisition on all digital channels, including social, for ALM brands.

In particular, Thaler is interested in behavioral targeting on social, that is, targeting paid social ads to users based on what they have clicked before. ALM has had success with behavioral targeting in its email campaigns and display ads and is excited to introduce this type of targeting on social platforms. In the following interview, Thaler discusses that initiative and shares how ALM is moving social referrals further down it’s acquisition funnel.

To learn more about ALM’s social media efforts join Thaler and Publishing Executive at the Social Media & Inbound Marketing Master Class on October 16th. Find out more about the event here.

How is ALM using social media to grow audience and drive revenue?
Our editorial team pushes out content on Twitter as articles are published, from their respective brand handle, while the marketing team handles any paid or promotion strategy via social (for example, free trials, free content, event/subscription registration, profile completion, etc.). We’ve recently implemented behavioral targeting via email and display ads so we are taking our learnings from those campaigns and applying them to ads on social.

What are the goals of ALM’s social media strategy?
Editorial’s role is to push out their content and bring people back to the site to generate page views. Our content is metered, so while a social referral will get one free article view, they will need to register to continue reading. This is helpful to marketing because we are now able to identify our registered users for future communication. Audience development is tasked with driving regional subscription sales, and the corporate marketing team works to drive conversions for events, products, and national subscriptions.

Can you give an example of a tactic that has proven especially effective in growing your social audience and driving results (increased subscriptions, opt-ins, purchases, etc.)?
When we offer a free download, for example an infographic or whitepaper, as incentive for a purchase, we see an uptick in actions. Since we are a publishing company, our greatest resource is our content, and when the marketing team is able to work with editorial and creative to create custom download pieces or even repurpose and rejuvenate existing content, we see that our audience is more likely to pay the premium to access that exclusive content. This is where the partnership between editorial, creative, and marketing plays a key role.

What are the most important social media metrics you track at ALM and whose job is it to track and analyze these metrics?
Traffic referrals from Twitter are our most important metric because it helps our editorial team determine if they are writing about the right topics. We like to understand if our articles are generating the buzz we think they will. For paid social, of course conversion rates are important but at this point we are really focused on the click because we are still testing our offers and incentives, and have recently invested in new registration platforms where we are working to implement updated tracking.

We have a centralized Business Intelligence team that provides a weekly dashboard of company-wide metrics, but it’s up to the respective marketer to track anything that they push out and report back to the team on any findings.


Ellen Harvey is a freelance writer and editor who covers the latest technologies and strategies reshaping the publishing landscape. She previously served as the Senior Editor at Publishing Executive and Book Business.


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