Why Data is Important for Your Digital Publishing Strategy


Why Data is Important for Your Digital Publishing Strategy

January 21, 2015

You’ve heard plenty about “Big Data” and you might be just as skeptical about it now as you were when people first started talking about it. We’ve chosen to talk about it as Deep Data and in the context of individualization—which hopefully provided some insight on why data is important for BtoB publishers, but let’s talk today about why it should be an important part of your digital strategy.

First, let’s think about why you are here in the first place: you likely provide valuable news and expertise to a niche audience. Traditionally, that was pretty straightforward—you were selling magazine and perhaps newsletter subscriptions, along with advertisements. Then, along came digital publishing and suddenly, people were consuming content differently and more options for revenue began to open to you. But, it’s likely that it is taking some time to gain your footing with a digital-first strategy.

Meanwhile, you’ve always relied on data to help inform your business strategy. Right? Sales data is nothing new. Audience behavior data is, however. At least at the scale it is currently available. For the first time in the history of publishing, you have gobs of information about your audience at your fingertips:
  • What they like to read
  • How they like to read
  • The specific topics that interest them . . . and more.

This kind of data has the potential to support your business model on numerous levels:

  • Assist you in identifying business objectives
  • Improve your efficiency
  • Maximize the effectiveness of your content
  • Transform audience outreach
  • Inform marketing tactics

To really see the value of data, it’s important to look at it through the lens of a digital-first strategy. That means, at the foundation, that you are operating with a SaaS Enterprise Publishing System (EPS), which allows you to create content once and deliver it via multiple channels as well as develop multiple revenue streams. You are thinking about:

  • How to best engage your audience with your content—using context and relevancy
  • What audience development means in the context of content packaging and distribution
  • What social channels are most appealing for your audience
  • How to optimize for mobile
  • How your editorial, IT, sales and marketing teams can work together to create deeper relationships with your readership
  • Who on your team can captain the ship of innovation to stay ahead of the technology and abreast of the ever-evolving digital environment
  • What new revenue streams (events, buyers guides, etc.) seem to fit your audience and how to develop them
  • How to improve customer service

If you are changing your business model to suit these considerations, you are absolutely moving towards a digital-first approach—and it’s easy to see that such an approach requires that you know more about your audience and about contemporary cultural behavior regarding content consumption. A random role of the dice is not going to give you answers you need. Hence, you need the data. Make sure you:

  • Understand how to glean data from your social platforms
  • Have an EPS that automates data collection (registration, behavioral, Search etc.) for use across multiple applications (no more silos!).
  • Hire or train someone to interpret the data—through multiple lenses (sales, editorial, etc.)
  • Review your data regularly
  • Test your various approaches and look at the data to inform your next move
  • Rule the data; don’t let it rule you. Meaning, identify the questions you need answered: Will our audience embrace an event? Should we develop more products around a specific topic? Is Facebook really our best social channel—even if it’s still the most widely used? Take those questions and find or collect the data. But, don’t ignore what the data tells you first, either. Let it present questions to you, as well.

Most importantly, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Decide what data is most meaningful for your strategy and focus on that. Just as you want to present relevant content to your audience, your data should be relevant to your goals and objectives.