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Readership Surveys: 10 Good Reasons Why - 8/27/2013 -

Do you know what your readers are thinking? Maybe so — or maybe no, if it’s been a while since your last readership survey.

By Cathy McNamara Fitzgerald

Do you know what your readers are thinking? Maybe so — or maybe no, if it’s been a while since your last readership survey. Here are 10 good reasons to consider undertaking a readership survey to make sure you and your audience are still on the same page.

  1. It’s been a while. Industry experts recommend regular readership surveys, at least once every other year. Why? Because your audience’s habits and preferences really do change often, especially in the digital sphere, and you need to stay in tune with their current thinking. Another advantage of consistent measurement is that you will begin to accumulate reliable data that can help guide the overall budget process and how you should — or shouldn’t — designate your resources.
  2. You’re not sure they love what you’ve been delivering. Data from a readership survey will help you to assess your members’ attitudes toward your publication’s content. "A readership study can tell you whether the content you are supplying is useful, valuable, or even meaningful to your readers,” says Jaime Brewster, national sales manager, Kantar Media Professional Health. "This sort of in-depth feedback is essential for maintaining a loyal readership and appealing to new readers and advertisers.”
  3. You’re not sure where you stand. Find out where your readers stand on your publication versus what the competition is offering. If you don’t like the survey results, don’t despair; instead, use that data wisely to help lead you to positive change.
  4. You’re not sure what your readers are doing when you’re not around. Take advantage of the members who are taking your readership survey — for a short while, they are your captive audience. Take that one-on-one time to squeeze in a few survey questions that will help build your member profile. Use this opportunity to gain insight into your members’ demographics and their business practices and other habits.
  5. You’re not sure what they are doing online. Ask the right questions, and the data will tell you about their digital habits. A readership survey can give you all of the information you need to assess your members’ use of online programs and their digital habits relative to print, webinars, live events, social media, and more.
  6. You’re not sure if your approach is working. The readership data will provide you with better insight into your audience, so you will be able to better target your communications for more successful marketing initiatives.
  7. You need something new. The resulting data is useful for sales calls and when appealing to potential advertisers and corporate sponsors. "The results from the readership survey will provide your sales team with some go-to-market data points about what makes your audience and your publication unique, valuable, and important to support,” says Brewster. This relevant data can go far in helping to close the deal.
  8. You want to maintain your current relationships. The data can validate relationship success to current advertisers and corporate sponsors. "Your readership data may reveal that your audience is in fact responding to the offerings from your current advertisers and sponsors,” says Brewster. "This sort of feedback is invaluable to your partners and can really help to cement these important relationships.”
  9. Because your board will be into it. Board members and other leaders need to make data-driven decisions. The results of your readership survey will come in handy when you want to implement new publication or communications initiatives that require board approval.
  10. Because readership surveys are good for you, too. Having in-depth knowledge about your audience helps you to feel confident in your decision-making — and that just makes every day a little easier.

So reach out to your audience via a readership survey. You’ll be pleased with what the results can do — for you and your readers.

Cathy McNamara Fitzgerald is director, communications, at the Academy of General Dentistry and a member of the Association Media & Publishing Content Creation Committee.


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