Media companies have always traded in information, and the rise of big data has, in many ways, redefined what it means to know your audience. Part of an ongoing editorial mission for Folio: is exploring the ways in which publishers are taking advantage of audience data with unprecedented depth and sophistication to help drive nearly every aspect of their content, marketing, and sales strategies.
Last week, we caught up with SourceMedia CMO Matthew Yorke for a discussion about how his company is undergoing a total identity shift from publisher to marketing technology company, focused on driving commerce in its served markets.
This week, we spoke with Tricia Syed, VP of user marketing and marketing analytics at Penton, about how she manages the media, information, and event firm's data collection efforts across its many brands — like Aviation Week, Contracting Business, and IndustryWeek, among many others — and arms her teams with insights that drive both engagement and audience growth.
Folio: In general, what are some of the ways in which Penton is using audience data to inform its marketing efforts?
Tricia Syed: Audience analytics has become the foundation for directing our audience strategy. Our marketers rely on deep segmentation to create a marketing plan of relevancy. For example, we identify user personas (demographics, firmographics, content engagement, topics of interest) and user content engagement so the marketers have actionable insight and can craft marketing messages accordingly.
Identifying user personas and relating them to topics allows marketers to create content marketing programs that will attract the right audiences with relevant content that educates and continually engages.
Folio: What are some of the challenges inherent to managing data analytics and related marketing strategies across multiple brands?
Syed: First, having the right teams in place. Our Marketing Services division consists of data managers, marketing automation experts, acquisition marketers, marketing analysts, and campaign managers all working cross-departmentally and collaboratively. We create audience reports that are accessible to everyone and reviewed across the groups. The audience analysis is a key part of everyone’s role.
The second is capturing actionable data. With so many tools and data capture capabilities available, it’s important to decide in advance what data fields or data points are the most important for your business. At Penton, for example, audience marketers and content teams work closely together developing goals and work collaboratively throughout the year to reach these goals on user engagement. Part of that is analyzing site data, user interests, and dayparting trends, among other data points.
Finally, integrating marketing and uncovering synergies. With brands that overlap in terms of industry, job function or topic, creating a system where marketers can take advantage of cross-promotional opportunities is key. Again, this ties in with how teams are structured and how they communicate. Creating an integrated calendar by brand or market and giving everyone involved access enables the teams to look across brands and introduce audience segments to topics, events, and other resources.
Folio: What are some KPIs you’re looking at more and more in your audience and marketing strategy?
Syed: We’ve shifted from quantity to quality in terms of KPIs. We continue to track reach, but we are more focused on engagement, activity, and conversions. New KPIs are focused on channels like social media and tracking engagement metrics that integrate across platforms.
We are more interested in when and what a user is reading, downloading, reviewing multiple times to understand our audience’s current interests. We look at the user funnel and recurring activity on a regular basis.
Folio: What are some new technologies Penton is taking advantage of to boost your audience data collection?
Syed: An important area of focus this past year was launching our sites on new content platforms, which has really enhanced our data capture. The sites now offer easy-to-find, relevant content, a rich visual experience, and an optimal viewing experience on all devices. We’re also using data visualization apps for internal and external purposes, behavior-driven technologies to deepen engagement, and we have partnered with companies like Integrate to optimize demand generation campaigns.
Folio: Are there any further tech investments planned going forward?
Syed: Yes, some of the technologies we are investing in are focused on acquisition, optimized content experiences, and data enhancements. We are also working with platforms that personalize the user’s content experience so we can better understand what users are experiencing beyond a “click” or an “open.”
Folio: What would your advice be for smaller publishers looking to train their staff to use data to inform their marketing or content strategies?
Syed: Start with your content teams to identify and define your ideal audience. From there, you can begin your analysis against your data to see if the audience you have and the audience you want align. If not, your efforts are about the gaps. If yes, your efforts can focus on deeper engagement via content marketing.