How to Get More Data from Your Audience with Email

convert unknown visitors into known audiences

Many digital publishers flock towards the shiny new technology in their industry, like a moth to flame or a gearhead to a nice car. And sure, a shiny new car might look nice in front of your house, but if you don’t have fuel in the tank, it might as well be a decoration. A $50,000 lawn gnome.

It’s the same with publishing technology. That shiny new piece of tech might be a well-oiled personalization machine, but data is the fuel that makes it run. Without that fuel, you’re like this car metaphor: you’re not going anywhere.

A recent Publishing Executive survey found that publishers’ tech budgets are growing. Cost is no longer a top concern for tech buyers who desperately need to save time and increase efficiency. But as much as 80-90% of a publisher’s traffic is essentially unknown, lacking the actionable data for the technology to work its magic.

So, are publishers supposed to scale back their technology stacks? Reach out to audiences with feather quills and scrolls? Carve content into the cave wall? Of course not. The key is to make this technology more effective by turning these anonymous site visitors into known audiences.

This starts with the email address. Here are a few ways to get more data from your audience by using the most advanced, revolutionary technology of our time: email!

Get more data by asking visitors to sign up for an email newsletter.

As many publishers can tell you, email is a fundamental component of audience development and revenue generation. There’s no better tool for reaching and nurturing site visitors, which is why getting that email address is the first step towards knowing your audience.

But as innocuous as this sounds for you, some site visitors may be reluctant to give up their email without knowing exactly why it’s used. A new 2017 Reuters Institute report found that some readers believed giving up their address to publishers was “an invasion of privacy” and considered any email sent from publishers “spam.”

Of course, this problem isn’t unique to publishing. Call an email marketer a “spammer,” and watch their eyes do a perfect 360-degree roll.

That’s why you need to provide value in return and inform your visitors of what that value is. An email newsletter offering is a great way to get audience data and engagement. Readers might be stingy with their data, but if you provide incentives to start an email relationship, you’ve got your foot in the door to collect more data.

Leverage social media to bring visitors to your owned channels.

Facebook is famous for collecting mounds of data on users, but despite building their success on the content of outside publishers, they’re loath to share this data with them. Still, publishers put up with platforms because that’s where all the people are.

While social media sites might bring fast clicks to your website, they definitely don’t build reader relationships. Most of these social media visitors run back to the platform as quickly as they left it. It doesn’t help that less than half of visitors from social media realize what site they’re on. Some of them don’t realize they’ve even left the platform at all.

By inviting your social media following to join your email list, you can take back your audience — and your data — from the platform and build relationships with your visitors. On average, a social media follower will net you 2.3 lifetime page views; for email subscribers, this number jumps to over 40. Like any relationship, the more you hang out with them, the more you learn about them.

Collect more data from users with progressive capture forms.

Speaking of, if you’ve been hanging out with us for a while, you know the power of a good onsite email capture device. Intelligent capture widgets will earn you more email subscribers, but constructing your capture forms can be a balancing act.

Ask for too much data all at once, and you’ll scare away conversions. Make your forms too short, and you miss out on a valuable opportunity to get data when your audience is at its most engaged. The answer? Progressive capture forms.

Progressive Capture Forms for Audience Development

In the process of signing up for a newsletter, audiences may be open to providing more data, but they might not. Either way, progressive capture allows you to get the maximum amount of data by getting it one piece at a time.

If they decline, you’ve still got their email address. If they keep going, you can get them to tell you more about themselves, register for your site, or even become a paid subscriber. All from a single form.

Learn about your readers with preference centers.

Now that you’ve entered into an email relationship with your audience, how can you learn even more about them? Well, why not just ask?

Email preference centers empower audiences to determine just how much email they get. From email frequency to the content of the emails themselves, audiences receive only the email they want. This ensures subscriber satisfaction, maximizes their email engagement, and most importantly, gives you insight into their interests.

If you offer multiple newsletters, the types of newsletters a reader opts to receive tell you what topics they care about. When a reader elects to receive a newsletter about camping or cats or classic knitting techniques, it provides you with actionable data you can use to connect with these readers.

Learn more about learning more about your audience.

Connecting with readers is critical for turning them into paid subscribers. Publishers are increasingly going behind the paywall, which means you have to build relationships with them if you want to stand out in their minds when it’s time to pay up.

After all, you can learn a whole lot from your audience after they become a paid subscriber — most importantly, whether they’ll pay for your premium content.

That’s the most important data point of all: your bottom line.

Want to get even more actionable data from your site audience? Watch our on-demand webinar, “How Publishers Can Convert Unknown Visitors into Known Audiences.” It’ll be fun.

Editor, PostUp PlayBook