Understanding the Variables with Audience Development

Publications can grow their audience through a multi-channel strategy that ultimately gives them the data for future investments.

A successful audience development strategy is essential to growing your publication’s reliable revenue streams from advertising and subscriber fees. But it’s often challenging for publishers or managers, whether at trade publications or online properties, to determine the best strategy to grow their audience. No single strategy will succeed in growing every publication’s readership. Instead, it’s important to develop an understanding of the general framework that guides audience development and learn more about how to strategically apply that information to your business model.

SEE ALSO: The Growing Importance of the Audience Development Specialist

Get to Know Your Audience

Determining how to grow your publication’s audience begins with understanding the core factors about who you’re trying to reach. What demographic groups represent the core of your prospective audience? Think about them in terms of gender, marital status, employment status, income levels, family dynamics, technological habits, and more. Once you’ve established a clear picture of who they are, expand your profile to capture how they consume information. Do they rely on search engines, recommendations from trusted peers, or news sites while on their mobile phones? With a clear understanding of their information-related habits, you’ll be able to develop a channel strategy to put you in front of the people you’re working to attract.

Diversify Your Strategy

Don’t rely on a single initiative to grow your audience. Successful publications, particularly when they’re in a stretch phase or just getting established, need to leverage multiple points of contact with the public. “Being everywhere” helps accomplish two things. The first is building brand recognition and hitting the widest cross-section of readers. The second is the ability to test which channels are most effective for you. Today’s promotional plans need to take your brand online and offline. Consider a wide range of avenues for promotional efforts, including search engine optimization, content marketing, social media campaigns, advertising, and more.

Test Everything

An important element in the process is using the data from each of these different channels to determine what’s effective for you. One publication may find that advertisements bring a steady flow of new readers and subscribers. Others might have better luck with outreach to professional groups and direct mail campaigns. By evaluating the data associated with your marketing efforts, you’ll be able to identify which paths are most successful for you and use that data to calibrate future investments. The right feedback loop helps ensure that you’re developing the foundation for sustained future growth.

Growing your audience is essential for trade and online publishers. But there is no universal audience development strategy that works for every publication. Instead, it’s important that managers develop clear and accurate profiles of their audience, test strategies on a variety of channels, and then measure what’s working as you create future plans.

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