Audience teams diversify their approach

“The beauty of diversification is that it means not putting all of your eggs in one basket. It will encourage teams to broaden their skillsets, think creatively about various ways to get to the goal of sustainability and sharpen their discipline of setting goals and measuring them.”

If you travel in audience development circles, you’ve heard by now that Google is back on top as the main source of third-party referral traffic for publishers. And chances are you’re probably exhausted from explaining to folks that relying on any one particular platform as a primary source of traffic is a really bad idea. In 2018, we’ll see publishers diversify their approach to audience development, both in the tactics used and staffing models required to support them.

Teams will broaden their thinking around what the definition of audience development within a modern newsroom means. Engaging and growing audiences on social platforms will continue to be a priority, but not the only one. The 2018 audience roadmap will involve an increased focus on SEO, analytics, on-platform recirculation, community management, and newsletters. In isolation, none of these tactics are new or revolutionary, but whether your business is ad-based, membership-driven, or a paid model, 2018 will be the year in which audience teams are expected to use them in concert to contribute to the bottom line.

Search engine optimization will once again become increasingly important to newsrooms. SEO editors will join audience teams and lead search strategy, training folks on best practices and building bridges with product and technical teams to ensure that we are working together to achieve the best search results. Analytics editors will be hired to dig into the data daily and work with senior management to evaluate what is resonating with our audiences and compelling them to help fund our work. Newsletter editors will continue to build the type of one-to-one loyalty which helps feed our audience funnels, converting casual readers into the type of loyal ones who will help sustain our work. The community editor’s position will return to prominence, but with measurable recirculation goals attached to their work. Newsroom leadership should encourage and empower these individuals to be the watchful eye on editorial ROI. Multi-disciplined audience teams will balance quantitative data and qualitative audience insight with our years of well-honed news judgement. They will challenge us to stop doing what doesn’t achieve measurable results.

The beauty of diversification is that it means not putting all of your eggs in one basket. It will encourage teams to broaden their skillsets, think creatively about various ways to get to the goal of sustainability and sharpen their discipline of setting goals and measuring them.

Kim Fox is managing editor of audience at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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