by Alex Blackwell on January 13, 2014

How to Build a Loyal Magazine Audience

The deck is stacked against the magazine industry in many ways. People can get faster, more up-to-date information using their computers or phones. They pay less for this information, and they get it instantly. What they don’t get, though, is loyalty.

Today’s Internet emphasizes speed over accuracy, reach over quality. Internet readers go wherever the action is, never stopping to take note of exactly what they’re reading unless they end up at a destination so frequently that it becomes part of their browsing routine. That’s bad for most sites, but it’s good for those that place a premium on delivering great content.

That’s where magazines come in. The truth is, loyalty does exist in today’s age. It’s just harder to build. If you show that your magazine is worth the time and money of your customers, you’ll succeed. To do this, though, you’ll have to ensure that all of your customers’ bases are covered.

Magazines and Technology
Though it may seem like the magazine industry and the Internet are polar opposites, the reality is that the two mediums are more similar than anyone realizes. Furthermore, in the case of magazines, the Internet is necessary in order to succeed.

Think about how magazines worked a generation ago. The only ways to gauge feedback were circulation and incoming letters. Today, there are many more tools in your arsenal, and the Internet is the key to all of them.

You can see exactly how many people click on a given article in your digital version. You can also see how much time they spend reading and how far they get. You can see how they get to that article; you can see where they go after they’re done. Technology helps you to figure out exactly what your readers want. You just have to be willing to listen and act accordingly.

Another way to incorporate technology is to encourage an active dialogue through social media. This will not only help you better understand your readers, but you’ll also find your readers sharing your content and going to bat for you. With your most loyal fans doing your advertising for you, you’ll develop a new set of loyal fans.

Managing Online Content
Many readers are hesitant to subscribe to print magazines because the content is often available for free. If they can read it for nothing, they figure, why pay for it? It’s up to you to give the reader something extra to make up for the cost.

A great way to throw a bone to your readers is to make sure all of their bases are covered. In addition to providing them with a paper copy of a magazine, you should also send them a link to a digital copy. This way, readers can get a head start on your magazine before they receive their hard copy.

Additionally, a smartphone or tablet app enables readers to view your content at any time. As is the case with your website, the app will help you to gauge reader interest and learn more about your audience.

At the same time, you should try to convert free viewers to paid ones. You can do this by encouraging readers to submit their email addresses via forms on your website. You can also ask readers to follow you on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, where you can provide links to your best content and share subscription offers with prospective readers.

Find a Niche
Without great content, your magazine is doomed to fail. There’s just too much competition out there. You have to find a way to show readers that you’re worth paying for before all of the bells and whistles you offer gain any meaning.

The single best way to stay alive and to build a following is to develop a specific niche, one that readers can identify with and will want to support. This can be anything from longform stories to creative pieces. Anything that helps you to stand out and build credibility with your customers is a great thing.

This philosophy also helps in building a loyal following. Just as you want your customers to patronize your magazine, you’re also being loyal to them by giving them what they want each and every issue.

Topics: Printing Blog Business Strategy
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Alex Blackwell

Alex Blackwell

Alex Blackwell has built his career around providing customers with helpful solutions, and is currently Walsworth's vice president of marketing and communications, overseeing all marketing. He began his career as a teacher in his home state of Virginia, before joining Walsworth as a sales rep.

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