Selling Data….Without Selling Out Your Audience!

As a publisher, your niche audience data is a potential gold mine. But how much can you slice the audience pie? The last thing you want to do is dilute names, response, and revenue. What are the best ways to keep your most valuable asset – your list – opted-in and engaged?

These are the questions that keep Melissa Chowning, Audience Development Superstar, up at night. We asked her to share some of her insights on how to find the right balance between burning out your list while meeting traffic and lead goals for your digital campaigns.

What are 3 top ways NOT to burn out your list while you’re selling it?

  1. Be relevant. If your messages are relevant to the recipient, they’ll be much less likely to opt-out of your 3rd party messages.
  2. Monitor feedback. If you’re getting negative feedback from your audience (spam complaints, opt-outs, etc.) that’s a sign that you audience is not picking up what you’re putting down. Consider re-evaluating your messaging.
  3. Watch the frequency. No one wants to feel like the only thing you’re sending them is advertising messages. Make sure that your content strategy also includes regular email communication that is not advertising driven, to balance out the types of messages you’re sending.”

What are some secrets to reading audience data to segment and sell your list for the best ROI?

 “In addition to monitoring their behavior with your emails, monitor their behavior (or lack thereof) on your site. Track what type of content they are engaging in or their frequency of visits. An engaged user is almost always going to be the most receptive to your messaging. Sell on engagement in addition to demographics.”

Can you share a real-world example of a creative data sell with successful outreach?

Sephora does a great job with their email marketing, using data from your date of birth, your shopping habits and even the weather. I’ve seen emails that hit my inbox with a local weather forecast for the upcoming first really hot week of the summer with a reminder to buy sunscreen – genius!”

Finally, what are some pitfalls to avoid?

“Some obvious pitfalls to avoid are being too specific in an email when you don’t have the data to back it up. A good example of someone doing this is the example from Shutterfly a few years ago. They sent an email to their customers congratulating them on the arrival of their new baby and reminding them to send thank you cards. The internet made a bit of a mockery of the targeting fail but some recipients took the email a little more personally. Overall, it wasn’t a good move for Shutterfly.”

Editor’s note:
Melissa will be leading the session, “Selling Data Without Selling Out Your Audience: A Niche Publishers’ Ultimate Guide” at the 2017 Niche Digital Summit in Chicago, Sept. 25-27.



More about Melissa: Melissa is Owner of Melissa Chowning Media. Even in her free time, she geeks out on digital marketing — which is why she walks into work every day with her wheels already turning. Melissa guides her clients’ digital strategies and audience development efforts to drive traffic, engagement, and retention. Formerly the Audience Development Director of D Magazine, Melissa understands that the key to audience growth is also monetization. When the self-proclaimed “big nerd” isn’t immersed in the digital world, you’ll likely find her reading, listening to podcasts, and keeping busy with her two children, both under the age of 5.



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