Most Publishers Are Lousy at Audience Development. Here’s Why.

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As media companies, we pride ourselves on building long-term content relationships with our readers. Our audiences are the lifeblood of our businesses driving advertising, subscription, event, lead generation, and other revenues.

But despite our reliance on our audiences, we often struggle at developing them. It seems increasingly difficult for us to get more email subscribers, build print and digital subscriptions, drive event registration, and create more leads for advertisers.

Why? Because most media companies are actually lousy at audience development.

Our first mistake is that we don’t realize that the number one job of our website is audience development, not content delivery or monetization. Think about it … an average visit is only 2-3 pageviews. That doesn’t equate to much revenue.

If somehow, someone finds our website through a search, social share, or link, doesn’t it make sense that our number one priority — before monetization — should be to entice them to give us their email address? Now we have an actual relationship that we can use over and over again to drive repeat traffic as well as reader and advertiser-side revenue.

Our second mistake is forgetting that every page on our website has a flow:

  • First the reader orients themselves. Where am I? What am I looking...