Interactivity and the Small PublisherBy: Azriel Winnett
To maintain a qualitative and competitive edge is something we all want for our electronic publications.
We saw last week that in order to achieve this happy state of affairs, we have to develop a mindset of innovation and leadership. This in turn, presupposes that we have our fingers on the pulse of our subscribers' likes and dislikes, habits, goals and desires.
Depending on the nature of our stated and hidden goals as publishers, information about our subscriber community is valuable to us for one or more of a number of reasons. The most obvious one is that if our readers don't like what we publish, or our discussion group members don't like what their peers are discussing, we'll soon run out of subscribers altogether.
If we are aiming to generate income through third-party advertising, the value of having our audience's "vital statistics" at our fingertips is also pretty obvious.
The cleverest ad in the world doesn't do much good if it doesn't reach the intended market. If the purpose of our product or list is to promote products or services of our own, we need the data for much the same reason.
If our income-producing strategy is to find suitable joint ventures or affiliate ("reseller") programs, then at least we have more room to manoeuvre. If our subscriber profile turns out to be not what we expected, all we have to do is to look out for a program or opportunity that does match it.
But here, too, knowledge is power; there's no short cut for knowing not only who our subscribers are, but what they are as well. And the list of reasons goes on and on...
So how do we lay our hands on the info we need - and with the full consent of the people it refers to?
We are fortunate if we have web interfaces that allow for the posing of a few key demographic questions to new subscribers at the moment they sign up. (We have to be careful, of course, that the number or the complexity of the questions doesn't deter the prospects.) If our sites are equipped with personalization technology which allows us to make deductions about our visitors' interests, so much the
But what can the small publisher or list owner do? Interactivity is the key.
Interactivity - more correctly termed "two-way communication" - has long been a buzzword among aggressive website designers competing fiercely for the attention of a picky surfing public.
The more e-publishers apply these principles, the more they will learn about the communities they serve.
APPLYING INTERACTIVE PRINCIPLES
Here are just a few examples of how you can apply interactive principles to your own publication.
Each one of them, and many others that we do not mention here, should increase your knowledge of who and what your subscribers are. But they will often yield other valuable benefits as well - such as promoting a sense of community and loyalty to you and your publication.
© Copyright 2000, Azriel Winnett, Sling Shot Media, LLC
The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.