Fall Clean-Up for Better 2021 Audience Data Revenue!

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Fall cleaning isn’t just for your house or yard. Now is a great time of year to clean things up at your magazine too! Prepping and cleaning up now sets the stage for clean 2021 initiatives. And the best place to start is your audience database.

Pandemic shutdowns pushed a lot of readers back to magazines this year, with upticks in subscriptions, online engagement, and product purchases. Were your forms ready? Did you collect the right data? Track activity? Set some time aside this month to evaluate what came in and set processes going forward that you can tie to revenue.

(Thanks to Joyce Neth, Vice President & Director of Audience Development and Research for WATT Global Media, for her advice on managing audience data: what to collect, how to organize it, and using it to drive revenue!)

How can audience developers drive data collection, manage hygiene AND find new opportunities in the numbers? Is there a shortcut?

If there is a shortcut, I haven’t found it! It’s so important to collect the best data you can in the first place. The main three collection tactics are:

  • Collect data from your users. It’s a tricky balance among quantity, form-fatigue and the quality of what you are giving them in return. We’re continually testing short forms vs long forms and incentives – offering them worthwhile pieces of “candy” in exchange for their data.
  • Use vendors to append, update and qualify new leads.
  • Append with additional information as necessary for clarity.
    We’re working toward automating certain hygiene efforts but right now, we look at in-actives on our email lists every six months and give them a re-engagement offer.

Within our 3-person Audience Development team, we joke that the assignment to “give us some insights” is the hardest to fulfill on demand. Typically the insights are performance-driven, for example, when we’re looking for results from a certain campaign and we find a surprise that leads to a pivot.


Does it ever make sense to ditch current magazines, newsletters, or other publishing products based on data?

Absolutely! We establish success measures when we launch new products (or when evaluating existing ones). If you aren’t getting the readers -– quantity or quality — that can support revenue, quit doing it. BUT make sure you learn from the experience and apply that to the next launch.

We actually launched two digital products 10 years ago. One got advertiser support and no readers, the other got readers & no advertisers. Pulled the plug on both after less than a year. We learned valuable lessons about developing an audience and monetizing it.


What’s the best way to bring ad sales, editorial, and audience management together so the data is working for everyone?

We’re in the process of figuring out how to do that effectively & efficiently. You definitely need all three legs to support the data table, though.

For both editorial and for advertising, it’s a process of defining the goals, identifying how to measure them and using the insights to improve results. It’s important to get the whole story from the data. Google Analytics is a great tool to tell you how many, but you also need audience behavior data to tell you who you are reaching.

We also do reader research to learn what topics our audience says are important. Then we can be sure we are meeting those needs.


What do you do when you’re not developing your audience revenue?

We moved in May after 13 years in our house. Now I’m organizing stuff from the move, sorta like data hygiene for my house! In my spare time, I read — everything from B2B industry resources to historical fiction. My husband and I also golf and take motorcycle trips. He drives, I sit on the back and take photos (and listen to audiobooks!)

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Joyce Neth is Vice President, Director of Audience Development & Research for WATT Global Media. She is responsible for attracting, retaining and engaging audiences for WATT’s information products and events that serve the agribusiness and pet food manufacturing industries. She creates insights for strategic decisions, audience marketing, product marketing and proprietary research using knowledge from WATT’s database of audience behavior and demographics.