Lately all you read about is how it’s necessary to have an understanding of how your marketing affects your data and vice versa. I for one feel we have been doing this for a very long time in the Audience Development (Circulation) field. Everything we do is focused on analysis done of previous marketing so, in essence, we are data-driven professionals. That’s how we operate—show us the data.
And we have lots of data to analyze and digest: from circulation reports, to BPA or AAM statements, email marketing promotions, online marketing, digital edition deployments and engagement reports, Google Analytics, renewal analysis and new business acquisitions, to revenue and expense tracking reports. All of these reports together give us a strong picture of what is working and why and whether or not our goals make sense. What they don’t give us is feedback directly from our readers.
That brings me to the topic of this blog—surveys. Why they are important, how frequently we should do them, and what we need to get out of them.
1. Why Are Surveys Important?
They are important because they’re the most reliable method to get real feedback from our subscribers—no matter what platform they use to engage with our brands (print, digital, apps, newsletter, and website).
2. How Often Should We Do Surveys?
It depends on the type of survey. If someone expired with the March issue and you have a last effort renewal going out in April, you should wait 4-6 weeks to get responses and then send the survey (around last week of May) to those that didn’t renew. By doing this you are adding an extra effort into your renewal (or requal schedule) but it’s also the best time to get input.
3. What Should We Look For?
It’s important to establish this when you are creating the survey questions. What do you want to know? For example, are you interested to know if your subscribers want an app version of the brand? (If so, don’t forget to ask for their email address so you can alert them when the app is available). Or do you want to know whether there’s price sensitivity? There are many things you can learn by establishing these survey efforts with the right timing.
In my experience people like to provide feedback (good and bad). If you ask the right questions you will get answers that will give you yet another piece to add to the puzzle and understand your audience better. It’s important that the surveys are timely (don’t contact an expired reader about why they didn’t renew two years later); also keep it to a maximum of 5 questions and make sure that at least one of them are open -ended so they can provide you with their own explanations of what’s good or bad with the brand.
And always provide them with your best offer to come back as a subscriber. For trade publications, it’s best to list all the important articles and features they are missing by not renewing. And for paid publications, your best discounted offer should be there for them to take advantage of; just in case they change their mind after (or before) filling out the survey. At New Bay Media, we are constantly sending out surveys and monitoring the responses to ensure we aren’t missing any important data from our best resources—our readers!