love_reading_1A publisher's business is straight forward; we aggregate audiences and sell access to those audiences. The most successful publishers move beyond the basics of attracting, engaging and monetizing an audience to build a trusted, valued, relationship with their audience (just as any top company in their industry builds the most trusted brand with their market). 

Trusted audience relationships increase revenue and improve margins. This post discusses a few tactical things we do at Cadalyst to support our strategic goal of building a trusted long-term relationship with our audience.  

The implementation of these steps had an immediate positive impact for our business. We regularly schedule reviews of each step to use our recent experiences to continually improve our business performance.

Using the tools available to us through HubSpot we have been able to rapidly increase our organic audience acquisition and significantly improve the quality of our audience data without additional staff or resources because we have simply codified into the system our market intelligence.

1) Identify all data you want to capture about your audience and prioritize the order in which to capture that data.

This is my longest section of the post, for good reason!  You already know what data you capture. I suggest you revisit this and particularly involve your editorial and sales team leaders. Once you have your laundry list of data, begin to prioritize the most important fields, literally 1,2,3,4…..

The goal is to identify the most critical data needed to target client campaigns. Review your recent campaigns. What data was needed to properly target for the highest performance (whether you have the data available or not?)

The prioritization is implemented as a data capture waterfall in HubSpot using Smart Forms, which will ensure you are always capturing the next most important data point on a reader conversion.

Your priorities will be unique to your market needs. At Cadalyst we start capturing 4 data points: email, country, industry segment and specific topics of interest (which can be mapped to advertiser product categories behind the scenes.) A shorter registration form increases landing page conversions and we determined this data was enough to begin our relationship. From this first conversion we can begin refining our offers for individuals and quickly begin to capture deeper insights, most importantly the purchase intent on specific product categories. 

We have a list of over 50 fields we capture, all prioritized. Using HubSpot smart forms we capture new information, in order of our prioritization, with each conversion keeping our registration forms short and conversions high to improve the quality of our database every day.  (In addition we capture data for scores of fields tracking behavioral activity on our site, with our newsletters and with our emails to further complete the data set for each reader).

2) Do a Reader Survey Every Day

We have an automated process that will send an email to each reader who downloads a content asset.  It is here we get valuable insights that we use to promote our campaigns with our advertisers. For example, we may ask how many people they passed the asset to and/or their role in product decisions. We also look for insights into the buying process and current status of their specific buyer journey. Much of our buyer behavior data capture is shaped by research from the Chief Marketing Officers Council.

3) Build a Content Database

As you start to capture the most valuable data on your audience you will want to follow-up with relevant offers that encourage more downloads! Information we keep in our content database includes the following;

  • Asset name, author and publish date.
  • Date to review content.This is critical to keep content fresh. Review your content and take if off the shelf if no longer as relevant!
  • Target audiences for this content including personas, demographics, market segments, topics of interest and more.     

4) Map Types of Content to Maximize Data Collection

For example, we use our most popular editorial to capture "high value but challenging to accurately capture" data. This is usually data about specific purchase intent, something readers are less willing to provide accurately while downloading a vendor asset. We also determine content value to the reader to gauge whether we will be asking for 2 data points or 10.

5) Measure, Measure, Measure: Build Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Lists in HubSpot

I recommend you track the KPIs  that will let you measure the success of above.  Further, use these KPIs to align individual and team goals for each quarter and year. For example, editorial has a big role in audience acquisition while marketing/circulation directly impact the quality and depth of data collection. 

Some example KPIs include:

  • # of readers in database with all 5 of your top data points.
  • # of readers in database with active purchase intent.
  • # of readers in database where we have specific knowledge gaps (to target!)
  • We also track audience engagement with a lead scoring tool in HubSpot. A reader score identifies them as either a Devotee, Clicker, Reader or Searcher (our own definitions, make up yours!).

6) Build a trusted relationship!

With quality data being captured, a content database and content mapping to guide you, it’s time to build a long term trusted relationship with your readers. Narrowing your offers to only the most relevant for each individual builds trust and appreciation.

Your readers will more readily provide you with additional insights if they know they can trust you to use the data responsibly and thoughtfully.

The More You Pay Attention to Your Reader the More Your Customer’s Will Pay You! 

Respect the relationship with your reader and you will be rewarded!  Targeted and timely content that helps your reader make informed decisions, be more productive and or advance their skills will build a mutually beneficial relationship.

Your readers will be more likely to open your next email, click on your next site offer and convert on your next landing page. This translates into client campaigns that outperform the competition and differentiate your brand. The more you pay attention to your reader the more your customer’s will pay you.


Originally published May 8, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated January 18 2023