How to Turn Audience Development into a Profit Machine
What if I said you could make $100 for every $1 you spend on audience development? It’s possible, but to achieve it, you’ll need to change your approach to audience development.
For years now, I’ve been encouraging publishers to think more like direct marketers. Modern direct marketing has made a science out of nurturing cold audiences into warm prospects, into hot leads, and finally into paying customers. They use digital tactics that allow them to track the entire process while measuring the ROI and refining each step in the process.
Take, for example, a recent conversion funnel campaign I helped put together for JAZZIZ, a paid circulation jazz enthusiast publication. We spent $100 total on this campaign and generated over $11,000 in subscriber revenue. In the process, we also reached over 17,000 people on Facebook and added 1,000 subscribers to their email database.
The beauty of a conversion funnel campaign like this, is that it can run independent of the current JAZZIZ website, which is in the middle of a redesign. Let’s look at how it worked.
Identify the Warm Leads in Your Audience
First, note that we didn’t initially target “cold” prospects … people who don’t know the JAZZIZ brand. Instead we went to “warm” prospects (JAZZIZ social media followers and website visitors), and “hot” prospects (email subscribers who aren’t yet paid magazine subscribers).
At the time we started this campaign, JAZZIZ had around 63,000 Facebook followers. An organic post about the free Miles Davis download reached 7,300 people. To increase the reach on Facebook, we spent $100 on pay-per-click to boost the post to an additional 10,000 people. Again, that’s the only money that was spent on this campaign.
Develop a Lead Magnet
The next key to the conversion funnel is that instead of asking people to subscribe directly, we first offered them something of value for free, a downloadable PDF of The Five Essential Miles Davis Albums. So, everyone was directed to a landing page on the JAZZIZ website: www.jazziz.com/free/miles-davis/
On the landing page, we only asked for people to enter their name and email. We can ask additional demographics later, but at this point we just wanted to capture the email of someone with an interest in Miles Davis.
Once someone entered their email to get the free download, their name was added to the JAZZIZ email database and a tag was added to the person’s record noting that they downloaded the Miles Davis PDF. They were then presented with a web page containing a subscription upsell offer for the magazine.
Follow Up With a Subscription Offer
But we didn’t just leave it there. Using marketing automation, each person was immediately sent an email link to download the PDF, but the email also contained another message about the subscription offer. Two additional emails were then automatically sent three and seven days afterward with additional reminders of the subscription offer.
The beauty about this kind of conversion funnel is that it’s scalable, replicable, and evergreen. We can change the targeting criteria for PPC ads to reach beyond the JAZZIZ audience, and create and launch similar conversion funnels. And thanks to marketing automation, these funnels can stay active and work autonomously for as long as the content is relevant.
What Your Organization Needs to Build a Conversion Funnel
To successfully execute a conversion funnel campaign like this, your team must develop the skills to:
- Create effective lead magnets
- Create high-converting landing pages
- Setup and use marketing automation systems
- Adjust subscription offers and subscription order forms for maximum conversion
- Target PPC ads on both Facebook and Google to reach the right audiences
- Track all elements of the funnel to measure and improve ROI
- Write compelling landing page and email marketing copy
- Ensure proper legal compliance
Want to get even more sophisticated and effective with these kinds of funnels? You can utilize Facebook and Google retargeting to help move people through the various conversion funnel stages without burning out your email list. You can take advantage of Facebook lead ads and bypass the landing page altogether. And of course, you’ll want to build in social sharing throughout the entire funnel.
This is just one example of a conversion funnel campaign. Campaigns like this can be implemented specifically for controlled circulation publishers, book publishers, event producers, regional publishers, and more.
But I hope this specific example has helped you look at audience development in a new light. Using modern digital marketing tactics, audience development can become a profit machine while simultaneously growing your website traffic, social media reach, and email database, and building loyalty among existing customers.
Eric Shanfelt is the founding partner of Nearview Media, a consulting firm that helps publishers with their digital revenue, audience and platform development. Eric is a 25-year digital media veteran and has been the Chief Digital Officer for several large publishing companies. You can reach Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.