Let Supply And Demand Set Publisher Frequency

My last Email Insider column ("What's the Best Frequency? Who Cares!") drew this reaction from Eytan Abrahams of SourceMedia: "As a publisher, I stopped reading after this line: 'If you are a publisher, this is still a reasonable question.' (OK, so I did read the whole article ...). What is the magic answer for publishers to this question?"

We all want that magic answer, Eytan! For publishers, the frequency drivers are different than those for marketers:

1. Supply and demand: This means the supply of relevant news and content and the demand for it, by subscribers who will pay for it directly or companies who see the interest and will underwrite it with advertising.

You can publish more often if you generate a lot of content (such as news, "think" pieces like this column, breaking-news alerts, aggregated blog and forum posts, research reports, reader comments and article announcements) for a news-hungry audience that is willing to pay for it, or to advertisers who are willing to underwrite your costs to reach that audience.

2. Timeliness: You provide value when you deliver your content when it happens, before anyone else reports it. A field that makes news every day, such as politics, finance or sports, can support a daily email newsletter as well as breaking-news alerts. Your readers will expect it of you. Relevance is key here. If you send too many that are only loosely tied to your field or interest, readers will tune them out.

3. Consistency: Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." He never had to produce a daily email newsletter, newspaper or TV-news broadcast. Take tips from "old" media: Publish at the same time every day, and follow the same format, especially if you include multiple sections. You stand out in the inbox better when readers know when to expect you and seek you out.

4. Choice: Here, publishers and marketers are in the same boat. You have all this great content; yet, you also have highly individual subscribers who expect your content to meet their needs. Once again, give them many options to customize.

A well-designed preference page is essential, but also consider a dashboard that aggregates all your offerings if you're a multi-faceted publisher, research firm and event promoter with online and offline components. Include options for content, (see the list in #1), format and frequency, such as daily with a weekly digest.

If you want a good publishing model, begin with this very column, launched as a weekly by my colleague Bill McCloskey (Thanks for all the good columns, too, Bill!). Advertiser and reader demand, and a stable of authors, including yours truly, support the column as a four-days-per-week feature now, which appears in the same format and at the same time each day.

See how MediaPost manages its publications here. If you have a MediaPost account, log in and look at your personal dashboard. If you were to list all the content you generate in a week or even a day, the dashboard for your subscribers might look similar.

When you can appeal to both the voracious news consumer and the occasional headline skimmer, then frequency fades as an issue, and you are free to devote more time to making that content as rich as possible.



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