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From Circulation to Audience Development: More Than a Digital Transformation

by Kathryn Knudson

This session examined how traditional circulation departments are transitioning to audience development. Rebecca Sterner and Hervey Evans began by discussing the difference between circulation and audience development (e.g. renewals and requalifications vs. increasing customer value). They offered both the reasoning why circulation people are well positioned for audience development, as well as why audience development can be a particular challenge for those in circulation (including that it’s harder to prove cause and effect in the web environment).

Evans and Sterner listed an extensive number of tools utilized in audience development, including:

  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Mobile apps
  • Social media
  • Emails (both acquisitioned and transactional)
  • Digital editions
  • iPad & digital readers
  • Links and ads on sites
  • Videos

The presentation detailed the “how, why, and when” to use the array of tools and offered a “toolbox” of resources to help circulation professionals with the transition, including “The CMO’s Guide to the Social Landscape.” And, as there is a significant amount of learning ahead, the session addressed expectations, workload balance, and the way in which departments will need to change staffing and budget allocation.

Ultimately, Sterner and Evans emphasized that circulation professionals know how to manage audience and are expertly poised to manage and deliver audience across the different forms of content, as the publishing environment evolves.

Kathryn Knudson is a Consumer Marketing Manager at Affinity Media.