Three Ways Editors Can Use Audience Data to Increase Engagement and Drive Revenue

    Last updated: February 24, 2023

    We talk with a lot of media companies and publishers. One of the most common questions as we work with people across the organization is: who is involved in driving revenue? Typically, the most successful and forward-thinking organizations tell us that it is EVERYONE’s job. In particular, this has increased significantly within the editorial ranks over the last couple of years. This separation that used to be drawn between sales and editorial has evolved into more product development responsibilities for the editors. We still want to stay away from pay-to-play access or unlabeled sponsored content, but there is an effective and ethical way to bring editorial into the process while still maintaining the integrity and independent voice upon which your readers depend.

    With so much data now available to editorial staffers, they have a unique and vital role to play in data-driven media organizations as business models and revenue sources continue to shift. Salespeople – listen up, the next time your account or prospect asks for the unique thing that you’ve never pitched before (and we’ve all heard it), here are three different high-level projects where editors can use audience data to drive engagement, products, and revenue.

    Enewsletter Development

    There is enormous value when your email behavior (opens, clicks, tags) is tied directly into your audience database. This quickly gives you massive amounts of data which can then be analyzed to find opportunities. Study your open by demographic trends as well as engagement levels to find smaller, highly engaged segments in emerging markets. From there, you can build out two or three audience personas which represent your different types of readers.

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    Combine this with content consumption data out of your web traffic analytics or CMS tools to find news or content that has already been written. Now you have both a captive audience and a bank of content to start the process. Repurpose this existing content into a dedicated limited enewsletter/digital series that can be sold via an exclusive sponsorship. The power here is that you can line these up in advance and pitch a few of them at a time. Don’t launch these without an advertiser lined up! Your time is valuable so don’t invest it without having that revenue already booked. Don’t worry if some don’t get sold, these can be held for a later date and pitched again.

    Keep in mind this is a premium audience and should be sold as such. Don’t get into a CPM conversation when negotiating the price as it will never get the value/price that it deserves. Assist in the pitch by pulling a selection of titles/companies from this audience database and show the (anonymized) engagement data to help reinforce how the advertiser is not only reaching the right people, but talking to them about a subject in which they are deeply engaged and likely at the right point in the buying cycle. In doing this, the advertiser message is sure to resonate.

    Premium Content and Lead Generation

    Moving beyond enewsletters, there are a variety of higher-tier, premium products that your advertisers are accustomed to including as part of their annual marketing mix. As influence marketing begins to fade, brands are reverting to traditional premium sponsored content as a way to get their brand aligned with helpful industry information and best practices that assist in the buying cycle of particular goods and services.

    Editors can take a lead role in this premium content development by once again reviewing audience data to find topics that resonate with valuable sections of their audience. From there, take that combination of valuable audience data and relevant content to package together premium products like whitepapers, webinars, infographics, etc. This can either be done within an existing editorial/graphic team or you can engage freelance writers/designers to help supplement the foundational content that you’ve already put together. By looking at both evergreen content (best practices, product reviews, top 10 lists) and targeted hot-topics, you can develop premium products that draw in additional readers.

    The value is derived when you place this enhanced content behind a gate to drive lead generation for the advertiser. Be realistic with the info that you should ask (don’t try to get 20 data points) and be transparent about what data will be shared and with who (make sure you are telling your audience member if the sponsor/advertiser is going to get their email address). Your audience platform should have a lead capture tool and the ability to aggregate reports. This is another opportunity to upsell data by either enhancing it (showing additional company level demos or behavior) or increasing the frequency at which the leads are delivered.

    Account Based Marketing

    What’s old is new again. So while influence marketing regresses, account-based marketing (or ABM) is getting renewed focus as advertisers spend less time concentrating on broad reach and more time digging in at the account level to ensure their message is making it to everyone involved in the buying cycle.

    Editors have a unique opportunity because they know a lot of the key contacts at many of the bigger accounts from covering them over an extended period of time. They can help craft the messaging to ensure that it is relevant and appropriate for both the vertical and the target audience within each of those key accounts.

    On the business development side – allow your advertiser to provide a list of top accounts and use your audience data tools to bring in all of those contacts into the next targeted campaign. The first time they give you 50 accounts and you let them know you have 1200 contacts in your database at those companies, you’ll have a captive audience and the trust and influence to expand a media buy partnership.

    By pairing an ABM audience strategy with a custom content package and integrated marketing campaign, you are now in a position to target the right people with the right message at the right time. This surround sound marketing approach should cover email, display, on-site personalization, print, and potentially in-person events if the timing is right.

    After the campaign ends, pull all of the different metrics/touchpoints into a single customer journey report showing the reach and influence the advertiser received. There are lots of options for reporting that span different cost/complexity, but we have clients using everything from Tableau to Google Data Studio to an Excel/PowerPoint combo.

    Action Items

    With so much opportunity, it can be difficult to know where to start. Our recommendation for editors is to always start small and scale up, don’t try to do too much in your first effort. Begin by working with your audience expert or marketing lead to see what kind of data is already at your fingertips. From there, you can meet with both salespeople, to see where there is opportunity, as well as your readers, to hear more about what kinds of resources would help them in the buying cycle, as well as which products/services are currently on their radar. Move quickly and test a variety of ideas – everything is trackable, so the metrics will let you know when you are going in the right direction and when it is time to shift focus. There is a great opening to advance both your professional experience, while also helping to drive revenue for your company – so don’t miss this opportunity!

    We’d love to talk more! Send us a note at to brainstorm ideas or dig in further.


    Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

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