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Community engagement - How to reach out & touch a reader
WILPERS MEDIA TONIC:
How to reach out and touch a reader, one-to-one
As awkward and daunting as it might seem to reach out and ask readers for their help and advice, it’s actually quite easy.
And very, very rewarding.
For starters, you want to get the opinions of both your most ardent fans as well as readers who’ve dropped away.
You want the true believers because you must keep them happy, and so you must find out if they have any needs you are not meeting. With that information, you can take action to fill those needs and thus even more firmly cement their loyalty.
You also want the recently disillusioned or dissatisfied former readers so you can find out what needs they had that you didn’t meet to their satisfaction.
(NOTE: These interviews don’t replace data analytics but instead make them richer and give the data a human face. The interviews add texture and nuance. Together they provide a deeper understanding and directional insight.)
If you have a paywall, newsletter, or membership database, you have their email addresses. Dive into those databases and spot the people who, for example, always open your emails and those who don’t. Create separate lists.
If you are a magazine or site that has done lists such as “Top 40 Under 40” or “Top CEOs” or “Biggest Influencers”, you can reach out to them as they already have an existing (and happy) relationship with you.
Draft the email requesting their help. The subject line should not mention a “survey” or your hope of calling or seeing them. Get them to open the email with a subject line such as “We’d like your advice on how to improve X (magazine or site name)” or “X magazine/site needs your help to better serve you”.
If you think it might help, offer an incentive such as a coupon, a discount on your ecommerce site, X number of months added to their subscription for free, etc.
Start the email with a thank-you for their support, either ongoing or in the past. Mention that they are one of just X number of people selected to give their advice. If your data give you something you can use to personalize the invitation, such as “we noticed that you really like our stories about X”, use it.
Tell them that you only need 10-15 minutes to chat in person, via Zoom, or by phone.
Then, tell them that you want their opinion and ideas around just four questions:
1. What are we doing well?
2. What are we doing not so well?
3. What are we not doing that we should start doing?
4. What other advice do you have?
Knowing the questions up front and knowing the chat will be short greases the skids to get to “yes”. Almost without exception, the interview will go beyond ten minutes because they get excited about their ideas.
Divide the list of potential interviewees among your staff to spread the load and share the beneficial impact of talking with readers. The staff can use your standard email or tweak it to make it more in their voice. They send it out to their list and make the appointments.
As you go through the process, hold staff meetings so everyone can share what they’ve discovered.
When you have enough information to make changes, make them (don’t wait!), and then get back to the interviewees telling them about their impact and thanking them for their help.
If your experience turns out like mine, your readers will start spreading the word that you are actually listening to readers and acting on their advice.
It’s the kind of marketing you can’t buy.
(LAST WEEK: To truly serve the needs of your readers, you must add a human dimension to your data analytics by speaking to readers directly, one-to-one. Click here.)