I had to do some digging into the stories that my network was sharing today to find this gem about Pico, one of a number of media services providers that are pivoting to provide customer relationship management (CRM) services. It may be at the bottom of the list of headlines in my newsletter today, but it tops my list in terms of personal interest.
The profile of Pico by Nieman Lab got my attention because it is connected to the conversion funnel work that I’m doing in my day job. Beginning in 2017 as I was doing more and more consulting work with media companies in Europe and Asia, I realised how important conversion funnels were as more companies shifted to paid strategies. If I had studied marketing rather than journalism, conversion funnels would be old hat, but they were something that I stumbled upon as my work with audience engagement shifted to audience development and flowed naturally to conversion to paying customers.
Back to Pico. The company started out as a micro-payments provider called PennyPass. Micro-payments (think iTunes for news – garf!) didn’t really convert many readers to subscribers, but founders Jason Bade and Nick Chen realised that that they had collected a lot of leads during the pilot.
What publishers really needed was a funnel to some sort of reader revenue, and we had been too prescriptive about that type of reader revenue.Pico wants to inject CRM smarts into news sites hungry for reader relationships, by Christine Schmidt, Nieman Lab
Now, they are building propensity to subscribe models as well as handling a lot of other “customer-relations stuff”. They connect
But Pico isn’t the only company making this pivot. GroundSource, which started as an SMS-based engagement platform; Steady, which grew out of KrautReporter in Berlin; and the News Revenue Hub are all shifting to this space.
Pico just landed a $4.5m funding round that includes money from Stripe and Bloomberg Beta so they have some runway to find the right model.
I would say for the public service broadcaster that I work for, we’re looking for something that integrates more effectively with other software services that we’re currently using to allow us to segment more effectively, especially when it comes to knowing who is a member and who isn’t when it comes to the users of our digital services. We believe that would be transformative for our business.
Fascinating stuff, and if you see a story that you think I should share with my readers, let me know @kevglobal on Twitter.