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Most publications attract a handful of true fans — readers who devour every post, share content on social media and open every newsletter. 

But in the long run, understanding who doesn’t regularly read your content — and why — is far more valuable. If you can identify the disconnect between your content and your audience’s needs, you can begin to close the gap and increase engagement. 

Still, it’s not always clear how to start. Here are four steps you can take to begin engaging disinterested readers. 

Understand your audience

You understand your fans, but what about the rest of your audience? Developing a complete picture of your audience will help you develop content that addresses their needs and provides genuinely helpful information.

The reality is your total audience will include multiple segments. These subgroups might be defined by:

  • Niche or specialty within your industry
  • Level of professional experience and seniority
  • Geographic region
  • Demographic factors, such as race and gender

There are many ways to identify these segments, but two tactics stand out.

First, take a look at any data and analytics you can access. Data will reveal basic demographic and behavioral information, such as where your audience lives and how they find your content.

To clarify further nuances, you can go one step further by surveying your audience. Be sure to leave a few open ended questions so you can gather feedback about what kind of content they’re most interested in reading.

Personalize your content 

Because no two readers are exactly the same, adding personal touches can help cater to a variety of perspectives. It can also pull readers deeper into your content by helping them discover more articles they might enjoy.

If your organization has the technological capability, you can implement website features that automatically recommend articles based on what a reader has previously read. This can create a variety of personalized journeys through your archive. 

If your website capabilities are limited, you can still segment your newsletter audience with relatively little effort. Rather than sending out one newsletter that contains a mix of content that not all subscribers will be interested in, you can create several newsletters that focus narrowly on specific topics. 

Nurture reading habits

When it comes to content, less isn’t always more. Publishing too infrequently can cause your content to fade from readers’ minds. If other outlets are filling the void, your content might be lost in the shuffle. 

To stand out in readers’ minds, it’s important to publish frequently and consistently. If publishing daily is out of reach — as it is for most organizations — a weekly cadence may be more reasonable. 

While your current staff may be unable to meet this pace, there are plenty of creative opportunities to increase the amount of content you publish. 

Launching a program for your readers to contribute content can increase the frequency of publication. If you’re unable to hire more full time staff, consider hiring freelancers to work on assignments as needed.

Step 4: Plan for the Future

Adjusting your content strategy using these tips may drive some initial results — but your content journey shouldn’t stop there. As your content gains traction, it’s important to step back, refine your plan, and repeat the cycle. 

Analyzing your results will help you set attainable, metrics-driven goals. As you identify content that performs well, you’ll be able to replicate the factors that make it successful and cater further to your audience.

Heather Nolan
Post by Heather Nolan
October 9, 2020
Heather a skilled communicator with expertise in social media and marketing strategy, brand management and journalism. She uses storytelling and audience growth skills to help companies showcase their brand and expand their reach.