Check out these impressive stats: Over the past decade, Mother Earth News has attracted the most engaged audience in North America, consistently recording the fastest growth rates; the most time spent reading; and the highest popularity figures of all North America’s major magazines. Over the past five years the magazine has tripled the size of its audience!
What kind of magic are they working over there?
Bryan Welch is Publisher and Editorial Director for Ogden Publications, which includes Mother Earth News and Utne Reader (among others.) And lucky for us–he is a Niche Media Conference Keynote Speaker for us in Charleston in February.
He will show us how his team uses reader data to constantly refine the stories, vocabulary and graphics of their magazines to appeal to more readers and to establish deeper bonds with their audiences.
We checked in with Bryan last week and asked him to share with our niche publishers how to apply this approach to their own niche, deepen their connection to their readers, and grow revenues.
Niche Media HQ: How have analytics helped to drive your huge jump in newsstand sales, etc? Can you give us a couple of examples?
BW: About 10 years ago we began surveying our audiences regularly to ask their opinions of just about every facet of our products: topics, terminology, headlines, sell lines, photos, cover design and others. When we used the survey results to direct our own decision-making, we saw immediate results at the bottom line in the form of improved newsstand sales and engagement metrics.
Here are some examples:
Just since 2007, our newsstand sales have nearly doubled, during a period when total national newsstand revenue declined by 37 percent. We believe this was achieved largely due to the effective use of customer feedback to direct our editorial efforts.
During the same time period Mother Earth News’ average circulation grew 41 percent and total audience, including online audience, grew 211 percent. That magazine last year ranked #1 among all MRI-measured large magazines for time spent reading, was most likely to be a reader’s favorite and had the largest margin of circulation growth among the 211 magazines measured by MRI.
Niche Media HQ: How do deeper connections with readers translate to revenue growth?
BW: Every form of revenue is dictated by the quality of the engagement between readers and the media brand. Circulation revenues increase in proportion to engagement. Advertiser response increases with reader engagement – and therefore the magazine’s relationship with the advertiser is strengthened.
Ancillary product market, list-rental revenue, event revenue and every other source of media revenue is contingent upon the quality of the relationship between the audience and the media brand.
Niche Media HQ: What are some ways that niche magazine publishers can use graphics to establish a bond with their readers?
BW: A medium’s graphic appearance should, like every other facet of the product, be tailored to the specific desires of its audience. Vogue’s design, beautiful though it is, would not improve Popular Mechanics’ bond with its readers.
Niche Bonus Question: What’s your favorite Southern dish?
BW: I have a tortured lifelong romance with biscuits and sausage gravy.
Thanks, Bryan. Here is more about Bryan’s topic at the conference:
We look forward to hearing more of Bryan’s insights “live” at the Niche Media Conference in February. Join us to super-charge your 2014!
Follow Bryan: Twitter: @ranchocapp
About this blogger: Diana Landau is Content Wrangler of Niche Media. A former corporate marketing hack, she has now found nirvana in writing and wrangling quality content. Diana is a food, wine, art and SF Giants enthusiast who sometimes gets carried away.
Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments! Plus, Carl Landau – Niche Media’s Grand Poobah – just launched a blog all about creating and marketing targeted events – blog.NicheEventNation.com Check it out!