Developing Your Digital Publishing Audience
Written by Matt Berringer
July 19, 2022
Audience development is your publication’s strategy for growing its readership and creating a loyal audience. However, audience development is only effective if you target those most likely interested in your content. Finding your audience takes time and retaining, engaging and leveraging that audience takes strategy.
How Do You Develop an Audience?
You need to know your audience before you create a growth plan. While it might be best to target everyone possible, it’s much easier — and a better use of resources — to learn who your core readership is and what niche you occupy.
Use data analytics and market research to note your current audience’s demographics, including age, gender, education level, hobbies, life stage, beliefs and values, income and geographical location. Once you start tracking trends and determine your average audience member, you’ll get a clearer picture of who your content appeals to and how to refine your growth strategies.
Some ideas for digital publishing audience acquisition include:
- Collaborate with others: Start by leveraging any relevant connections to notable speakers, influencers or industry experts who would appeal to your target readership. Go beyond who you know by collaborating with guest creators and sharing content with each other’s publications and audiences — just be mindful of collaborating with similar publications and not your direct competition. You can also contact content aggregators to see what requirements they have to get on their list.
- Get involved: Building a community means being actively involved in one, whether it’s your local readership or virtual following. Depending on your situation, involvement could look like attending in-person events or staying current on trending content topics. Designate a team member or department to answer direct messages, emails and social media tags to build rapport and establish credibility.
- Segment your marketing: You might benefit from segmenting your audience into smaller groups for more targeted development strategies. For example, if your content appeals to both Generation Z and millennials, you can use the same methods for finding and growing those separate audiences.
- Use digital advertising: Traditional digital advertising methods are an option for expanding your reach, and the right digital marketing strategy can even help you target your ideal reader. Implement search engine optimization (SEO) and paid ads as your budget allows to reach specific groups.
- Optimize for mobile readers: Many, if not most, of your readers will find or access your content from a smartphone. Make sure your publication and website are optimized for mobile support, including a simple layout, responsive design, fast load times and short URLs. Launching your own app is a great way to create a streamlined mobile experience.
Tips for Audience Retention and Engagement
Developing and growing an audience isn’t enough — you also have to keep it. You can do this by promoting audience engagement and collecting feedback to help you improve the user experience and your content.
Gather information from various sources, including back-end data analytics and direct methods like conversations, polls and surveys. If your audience is large enough, you might consider an omnichannel approach to engagement that targets specific segments on different platforms. Prioritize direct channel communication like newsletter and email lists, and use data analytics to create a personalized reader experience with custom content suggestions.
Incorporate interactive elements into your content that promote engagement, such as shareable infographics, comment boxes with user prompts and calls to action. Use A/B testing to find out which methods work best for your audience, and then build out your strategy from there.
Leveraging Audience Excitement
An active, engaged audience is the best way to create word-of-mouth advertising for your publication. Keep that momentum going by staying consistent with your audience development and engagement efforts and creating a sense of urgency or emotional appeal when appropriate.
Consider tactics that push readers further into your publication with things like:
- “People also read” or “we think you’ll like” links to relevant content.
- In-text links to other content across your publication.
- Specific emails or incentives for warm leads.
- Invitations for readers to share or tag people in your content.
When developing an audience, one of the most rewarding aspects is user-generated content — content your readers create talking about your publication, like submitting photos for a contest or opinion pieces for an upcoming feature.
Engaging Your Digital Audience Starts With a Great Platform
Before you can develop an audience, you need to know you’re creating and presenting your publication with reliable, digital-first platforms. Request a demo today!