Scaling up your media business? Here’s where to start.
Last updated: March 7, 2023
Maybe you started out by writing your own blog posts once a week or posting on LinkedIn. But something caught on — you’ve built a following and they want more. Email, social media, event appearances. More.
Now you’ve also got a whole lot more content to produce, all while you’re trying to figure out how to get some income out of this whole thing.
Suddenly you need to transform from content creator to a full marketing team.
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With all those new factors to consider, it’s easy to forget what really matters: making content that serves your audience and keeps them coming back.
In this post, learn how to scale your publication without impacting quality.
1. Audit your existing content
Before making any big decisions, take stock of your current content. Besides just evaluating the numbers, ask yourself:
- Is the content up to date and relevant? Can it be updated with pieces or quotes from more recent articles/content?
- When was the page last updated?
- Are the links, media and calls to action still pointing to the right places?
From there, look at each webpage’s traffic numbers to see which pages/topics you should prioritize as you scale. Make note of any recent trends or traffic surges from key referral sources.
If you use Omeda, you can use our website analytics service to measure page views, impressions, time on site and bounce rate for each of your website pages, as well as your landing pages, etc. — all in one place.
Olytics also tracks each new visitor by their user ID, not their email, so you can convert anonymous website visitors into known entities and every time they access your site, their activity is added to their full profile. This gives you the fullest picture of everyone that’s visiting your site. With a clearer picture of your audience, you can better allocate your resources and spend time only on the content that’s sure to work.
2. Identify and serve key audience segments
Most one-stop-shop content creators have a single niche. And with that comes a single, easily defined audience.
At this point, you can figure out what your audience wants at any given time by manually checking your comments and DMs, or even just asking them.
But as your audience grows, it gets harder and harder to stay on top of everyone’s needs. Sub-topics will naturally emerge in your content offering and, in turn, you get different groups within your audience.
Take the Morning Brew for example: What started as one newsletter on general business news has spawned several vertical-specific newsletters focusing on retail, marketing, IT, tech, etc.
Dig into your website tracking data and see where you can diversify your offerings. From there, you can create audience segments based on their demographics, behaviors, past subscription history and more.
Because Omeda takes in audience data from every touchpoint, you can mix and match more than 100 different filters to create hyper-focused segments. That way, you can send a promotional email to “18-35 year-olds interested in marketing that haven’t yet subscribed” in one fell swoop, rather than sending it to the “18-35”, “marketing,” and “haven’t yet subscribed segments” and reaching a whole lot of people that aren’t interested in your offer.
3. Learn more about everyone in your audience
So far, we’ve given you ways to split your audience into different groups. While segments are invaluable for marketing purposes, people can’t always be fit into neat boxes based on their interests and demographics.
To keep your readers around for the long haul, you need to be able to personalize your content to each of their individual needs (and they might defy the segments you’ve already defined in your audience).
But you can’t give people what they want if you don’t know what they want. By collecting first-party data from your audience, you can see what each person is interested in — then give each one the content that’ll keep them coming back.
Use newsletters to define audience segments
Newsletters aren’t just an effective distribution channel. Their streamlined focus and granular data collection makes them ideal for qualifying and sorting new subscribers as well.
There are two main ways of doing this, both during the initial sign-up process. When someone signs up for your newsletter, direct them to a preference page where they can opt in and out of receiving certain kinds of emails from you. Besides ensuring that you’re not spamming your new subscribers, this is a great way to gauge interest in new topics and get a record of each individual’s interests.
If you’re starting to branch into a lot of new verticals, we recommend creating a newsletter for each, then encouraging audiences to sign up for the ones they’re more interested in. Their response alone can help you identify which verticals are most popular and worth your energy. Here’s a great example from Endeavor Business Media:
Another option: have new subscribers complete a survey upon signing up for your emails. Not only do they qualify each new subscriber, their hyper-specific response options allow them to create super granular audience segments. So instead of being satisfied that this new subscriber is probably interested in all “marketing” content, they can provide resources specifically geared toward content marketing and give them a way more relevant experience.
(And if you’re an Omeda user? Each new subscriber’s responses are automatically added to their profile within your database and added or removed from any relevant audience segments.)
Host events and webinars
Every time someone asks a question, submits a survey answer, etc., this information is stored in your system of record. So you can see what each attendee is interested in learning from you — and what information they still need — without sending them a form. (Bonus: Every time you host breakout sessions, attendees need to pick one session over all others. This essentially reveals what each attendee is most interested in — a goldmine of first-party data for your team.)
Provide “related articles” and on-page personalizations
On Omeda, you can serve readers with on-page content recommendations based on their previous viewing history and purchases. Then use our website tracking service to see what recommendations each person clicks on — and if certain articles are more popular with certain audience segments.
Gate your content (selectively)
Gated content’s gotten a bad rep in recent years. It adds friction to the user experience. It asks users for their personal information in exchange for subpar advice they could’ve found on Google. It’s just spammy, etc. But executed thoughtfully, gated content can help you enhance your readers’ experience while also generating good data for your team. Get the gated content equation right with these tips:
- Create truly differentiated content: Think of gated content just as you would any other asset on scale. In exchange for their personal information, people expect more valuable information in return. Effective gated pieces achieve this in two ways: They help audiences solve concrete pain points and/or they provide proprietary research that can’t be replicated anywhere else. For example, at Omeda, we gate our quarterly Email Engagement Report, since this combines industry insights with in-depth email reporting of more than 1 billion emails sent through our platform. (Note: Even if your content meets that quality standard, people may hesitate to download because of previous bad experiences. Counter this by outlining your content and key takeaways on the landing page. This way, they won’t feel misled when they see your actual piece.)
- Match gated content to business priorities: It takes a lot of time and resources to create truly good content. So use it only to advance a clear business need. Maybe you’re thinking about signing a new advertiser, but you want to see if you can provide them with enough interested readers before committing to anything serious. Or maybe you’re unveiling a new publication and you want to assess audience interest — and add people to the related newsletter — in advance of the launch. Rule of thumb: Think about your organization’s biggest goals, then decide what topics that will elicit the audience data they need to reach those goals.
4. Assemble your staff
Once it reaches a certain threshold, content creation becomes a team sport. As you grow, gather a team that can help you move each piece from draft to final, then distribute it across channels. Some responsibilities you’ll need to account for:
- Keyword research + outlining + reporting and writing: How this breaks down for your publication depends on your specific bandwidth, topic coverage and audience needs. The more you grow, the more you’ll need subject matter experts and/or dedicated SEO writers.
- Creating visuals: This could cover anything from on-page visuals to dedicated videos, sizzle reels and infographics for social.
- Producing and quality checking content
- Distributing content across channels
- Managing email: Besides just designing the newsletters, your digital team also needs to use audience data to update and maintain clean audience segments, manage subscription forms, evaluate performance, etc.
- Evaluating performance, then collecting, cleaning and resolving audience data: How this shakes out for your specific brand depends on your tech stack. If you’re using multiple marketing tools, you’ll likely need each tool’s primary owner to gather, clean and standardize performance data from that platform – then transfer them to your system of record so your content team can use the insights to inform their future work.
5. Find the right tech stack
Does that sound like a lot of people, processes and software tools to manage? Good. You’ve been paying attention.
When publications reach a certain size, producing killer content isn’t enough to guarantee success. Simplifying your workflows and personalizing content at scale becomes just as important.
And that gets more and more difficult with each new employee you hire, each new channel and advertiser you take on, each new reader who you need to engage and re-engage, over and over again.
So how can you scale your publication without sacrificing what made you great? Streamline your tech stack. Omeda takes in audience data from every touchpoint – from website and email to print and events – and stores it in one place for your whole team to use.
From there, you can see how each reader is interacting with you across all of your channels, then use our native email and marketing automation tool to send more targeted newsletters, emails, etc. to each one.
Best of it all: It’s all automated. So your team can scale without sacrificing the content that sets you apart.
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