Producing relevant content that continues to engage your readers is essential to retaining subscribers and keeping a good reputation as an information source. To do this, you need to keep on top of who your audience is and get in front of information that's valuable to your readers.
As a print and digital magazine or association journal publisher, you can do that by putting timely content on your website and social media sites while also producing in-depth coverage, powerful art and compelling page design in your print publications. Be the expert resource that your readers keep coming to for answers and information.
Connect With Your Audience
Here are 10 ideas to dig deeper, connect with your readers and provide content that truly matters to them:
- Have a section in your print magazine to which readers can contribute. Announce a monthly theme and ask for stories of readers' experiences. This has twofold value: It makes readers feel good to be published in the magazine and helps retain their loyalty, but it also provides information on their experiences and perspectives that you can use to shape future content.
- Pay close attention to what readers submit to the letters section of your publication – what they like or don't like about your content, what they seem to connect with, what experiences they share. Address their concerns directly so they feel valued and respected.
- Do a comprehensive quarterly or semiannual survey of your readership, offering a certain number of gift cards as prizes in a random drawing of participants. Link to the survey on your website and blog, in social media and in emails to people on your mailing lists. Poll readers on what sections they read or don't read, what features they like or don't like, what they'd like to see more or less of; whatever you'd like feedback on. Give them a chance to leave any additional comments they wish – positive, negative or both.
- Do mini-polls on Facebook, ask Twitter followers to tweet a funny and relevant experience using a specific hashtag, or ask for Instagram photos showing something related to a specific topic you provide.
- Interact with readers on social media. Readers who get the chance to communicate with upper management of a publication have a major incentive to be loyal to the publication, because someone important has reached out to them.
- Feature a page or section in the early pages of your print publication with short news tidbits – not necessarily the most important news, but simply interesting news bites, amusing brief stories, and buzz about potential relevant news that may happen down the road.
- Keep abreast of potential topics by sending representatives to conferences, courses and other events where they will learn information, confer with presenters, and network with colleagues. Treat staff members as valuable members of your company to increase employee retention, which also retains valuable connections those employees nurture over time.
- In addition to asking readers what they want to see, share with them things they don't know they want to see. Stay on top of new industry information, technology and trends in areas that are relevant to your audience. Be valued as an important go-to resource.
- Plan in-depth print coverage ahead of time, but be prepared to shift in case of big news that you have to scramble to cover to meet your print deadline. Revisit topics that are continually relevant, approaching them in different and new ways, especially in ways your audience tells you are important to them.
- Invite comments on your blog posts, print and digital stories, and social media posts. Respond to every comment or delegate others to respond. Engaging people in conversation keeps them around longer, in an atmosphere where it's easy to lose someone to the next clickable link.
Print and Digital Together
In addition to tailoring your content to fit your audience, don't forget that your readers care about how they consume it. And while readers are younger and more tech-savvy, their growing consumption of digital publishing doesn't necessarily mean they don't value print. In fact, the industry has found that combining print and digital together drives higher overall readership, and some publishers have found great success when offering a reduced rate for readers who subscribe to both print and digital versions.