by Christoph Sisson on December 11, 2014

Honing Your Content: Audience Feedback Best Practices

Relevant editorial? Glad you asked.

Your publication can be one of your key tools for maintaining a vibrant relationship with your readers – which makes it extremely important to provide content that’s engaging and thought provoking while underscoring the mission of your organization. In fact, if your publication isn’t highly relevant to your audience, demanding attention when it lands on their desk or tablet, you could have a problem.

So it’s important to constantly be seeking audience feedback on your editorial direction and quality. How?

Ask. And keep on asking.

One of the most effective measurement tools is to initiate a quarterly or semi-annual reader satisfaction survey, either via mail or online.

Request Integrated Content Marketing Stategy Whitepaper After the issue has been in the field for a couple of weeks, the survey arrives with a series of questions, such as: Do you recall receiving/reading this issue? Do you recall reading this article? Please rate the value of this article to your business or career. How significant are the following content areas to you? Overall, how satisfied are you with the publication?

For additional information that could guide future content, you’ll want to ask about what’s missing from your editorial mix. Perhaps something like, “What topics are we not currently addressing that are important to your business/profession?” Or, “What new directions or trends do you see as relevant to the association or to your business.” Or “How can the publication serve you better?”

The results become an editorial report card as to how well you’re serving your readers, where their interests are, and insights into future industry directions.

Want additional bang for your buck?

In addition to feedback on your editorial product, use the same survey to gather data on advertisements, with questions in the vein of “recall seeing/recall reading,” along with an open-ended question about which one or two ads really grabbed the reader’s attention, and why.  The answers will provide valuable feedback to advertisers on the efficacy of their ads and how they’re being perceived.  This can be a powerful sales tool – helping to drive advertisers into the issue.

Several reputable companies offer such surveys. Or, if you’re comfortable venturing out on your own and compiling your own results, an online program such as Survey Monkey can provide this feedback for free.

You may find these additional articles regarding survey best practices helpful: Best Practices for Tracking Customer Satisfaction and Stop Coaching Positive Survey Responses.

It’s important to note that gathering feedback need not (and should not) be limited to a formal survey. Open the lines of communication – and encourage an open dialog with and among readers.

Include a note in the publication inviting comments, suggestions and constructive criticism on Twitter, Facebook, your website or direct to your email inbox. Make it easy to stay in touch. And remember to ask for new topic ideas or areas of importance to readers that are not being covered or are under-reported in your current offerings.

What’s the end result of all this information gathering?

It can help you fine-tune your editorial content offerings and the slant on a given article. And it can help you gauge areas of interest that are being under-valued or missed entirely by your publication – and conceivably the organization itself.

In a word, it can help your publication – and your organization – be more relevant.

Topics: Blog Content Marketing Business Strategy
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Christoph Sisson

Christoph Sisson

Christoph is a marketing and customer-experience practitioner who is committed to understanding customer needs and business objectives. As marketing manager for Walsworth, Christoph enjoys informing customers about solutions that can improve their success.

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