Day One of AMPLIFY 2023 emphasized the importance of audience. Whether it’s your content, SEO, accessibility or marketing, you must know your audience. Jill Fick of Readex Research told us that increasing member value is the top objective for 56% of their media survey respondents. Are we reaching out enough to know what that value is? (And not just reaching for the stars.) It’s important that you’re “looking for data that you can use to make decisions,” Fick said. It was a terrific opening day.
Towards the end of the ears-opening AMPLIFY 2023 keynote address from the Industry Dive dynamic duo of Sondra Hadden, senior director of audience growth marketing, and editor-in-chief Davide Savenije (pictured on stage), the topic of platforms came up.
“We would love to be on TikTok,” Hadden said. “But there’s other lower hanging fruit [that we need] to take.”
“Would we?” Savenije asked, a bit mischievously. “I’m not sure.” He gave an example of a post they ran that went viral. “In the end what did it really do for our circulation? We’d rather have 20 people read something and then 10 subscribe from that.”
The back-and-forth banter between this esteemed tandem kicked off this annual Washington, D.C., content and marketing summit in high style for the near-200 attendees.
Hadden spoke about issues such as “snooze options for unsubscribes” when it might be a time of fatigue for them; using LinkedIn groups and newsletters—“they want to keep people there, and we want to bring people back to us; interactive editorial-led events—how can we put our editorial people out there more? And the first-party data that’s so important these days—“We want to know about job title,” she said, giving an example of a group that uses WhatsApp for messaging. “What do our ads look like? Do we need to speak to them differently because that’s where they spend their time?”
Savenije made it clear what Industry Dive strives to be. “We’re a news organization—so we capitalize on breaking news and sending alerts to our readers. It’s really valuable for us and results in higher engagement. It also demonstrates to our audience that we’re really paying attention, and it was worth interrupting their day.”
Here are 7 more takeaways from Day One of AMPLIFY 2023:
Aim for metered repetition. Erin Hallstrom, associate director of SEO strategy for Endeavor Business Media, spoke about keyword frequency. Your goal is language pattern recognition. It’s not a nice-to-have but a need-to-have. “Like teaching a child to talk,” she said, “keywords and phrases should be used consistently and frequently.” Don’t pick one keyword/phrase and use it repeatedly and on everything. Google doesn’t like oversaturation.
Craft your phrasing. “Google is crawling content looking for language pattern matches,” Hallstrom said. Phrasing around keywords is important also. She gave an example of “chemical manufacturing” and the queries people might use around it. “An optimized headline should be able to stand on its own,” she added. “And spell out words typically shortened for space in print,” like association not assoc. and California not Calif.
Be clever. “An optimized headline might include variations on your keywords,” Hallstrom told us. Clever word play is fine if the gist of the headline can stand on its own. “Pose a query to the audience to pull them in. But don’t be excessively long. Use your own habits, how you query things.” She changed, “Fight Foam Accumulation” to “How One Chemical Manufacturer Fought Foam Accumulation.” “It didn’t tell you anything. We added context.”
Have a clear channel for feedback. That came from Sarah Gaydos, art director & data visualization specialist for Graphek in a session titled Building the Courage to Cover Tough Topics in Your Publication. “You don’t want to shy away from what’s happening,” she said. “You have to show a level of seriousness. Why is this topic being covered now? Sometimes, your visuals can drive headlines.” Added Laetitia Clayton of the National Association of Social Workers: “It’s important for us to strike a balance. When leadership isn’t behind us, [we have to tell them] that it’s really important that we talk about this topic. If we don’t, it looks bad. We have a great membership team that helps us craft responses.” Said Gaydos: “You want to be on the right side of this.”
Listen, adapt but go slowly. Savenije said that while you can’t predict the future, you can watch closely and quickly adapt to it. “We’re good at listening and seeing where things are going and adapting to it,” he said. “But it’s important not to pivot too quickly if it doesn’t work with your model.”
Be smart about what risks to take. Neal Award winner Ben Fidler of Industry Dive told me last year of the processes that take place there when someone wants to do a longer article. “When someone has an idea in the works, we come up with a plan to give them the time they need to execute efficiently.” Savenije backed this up, saying that most journalists want to do great work. “It’s not about who’s right and wrong [in the risks we take], but what did we learn from this? How can we evolve and innovate from here while still doing the core things we need to do well?”
Be disciplined in what you measure. “There’s more data than ever out there on your audience,” said Savenije. “How do your readers really feel about your publication? There’s no perfect picture from the data. It’s a little fallacy that the data tells us everything. Be disciplined in what you measure. Reader surveys help us fill in those blind spots. Develop that culture. Most modern newsrooms today have editorial and marketing working together.”