Why Specialty Publishers Need Market Research

March 20, 2011  |   Marketing   |     |   0 Comment

You know your industry, you focus on what your subscribers need and have a set formula on how to deliver it. Tracking your marketing results from start to finish, you’re able to understand your customer’s behavior on the web, how they renew and what channels work best for them. You even know the content that engages them most from your web analytics tools. So why even do market research? Why compile a customer survey and ask what your subscribers want when you already know?

Market research can help your business. As a general principle, basing marketing around your subscribers’ needs rather than your own intuition is a good strategy. Your customers have specific pain points they helped solve by buying your publication, and laying down a marketing strategy without taking their needs into account risks alienating yourself from what drives your business. Below are three main areas where market research can help you.

Grow your circulation

Circ marketers are diligently analyzing marketing results, web analytics and customer behavior to figure out what tricks will work to put net circulation on an upward trajectory. So where does market research fit?

  • Learn the compelling reasons your subscribers buy your publication: You may know how customers find you and what content they like, but why did they buy your publication in the first place? What problem did you help them solve? Knowing this can inform the communications you use to different segments of your target market. It can also help uncover new lists to purchase.
  • Find out what specialized language your subscribers use: How do your subscribers talk about the information that you sell them? Figuring this out can help you write better marketing copy, develop more effective search-engine-marketing campaigns and compile a more targeted overall strategy to market your publications.
  • Investigate where your subscribers spend their time: Which channels do your subscribers use? What do they read? Which events do they attend? Can you replicate your marketing in those areas to drive more orders?
  • Explore your publication’s strengths and weaknesses: Making sure you compare favorably to your competitors gives you the edge in your industry. And if you don’t, you’ll have an action plan to improve specific areas of your content.

Increase renewal rates

Looking at customer behavior can help you assess what types of efforts to send, when to send them and which offers to present. But again, marketing research can help you:

  • Refine your message: Remind your customers of the emotional need they had to buy your publication. Not knowing this will cost your company subscribers.
  • Assess your content’s weaknesses: You need a barometer to correct problems with editorial and make your subscribers happy before they expire or cancel.
  • Learn any reasons for subscriber dissatisfaction: Perhaps developing new content, improving customer service or approaching customers in a different way will help you retain them. If anything is happening that might lose you subscribers, know about it before it’s too late.

Evaluate new opportunities

Specialty publishers often find themselves trapped in a certain industry, unsure of how to expand their businesses. Success in one vertical doesn’t always mean sales in another. And just because you have a captive audience for one type of content doesn’t mean your subscribers will be motivated to buy something else from you.

  • Systematically evaluate areas where you could launch new content: Is there a real pain point you’re helping to solve in the area you want to launch? Will there be a critical mass of subscribers to make your publication successful?
  • Discover why your customers trust you: Can you capitalize on that trust to build new business with them using different content?
  • Complete due diligence to properly assess a launch: When breaking into a new vertical, ask prospects if they have the same compelling arguments to subscribe as your current customers. What types of content do they want to see? Is their need strong enough to buy from you?


Good market research will have objectives tied to it. Whatever the strategy you pursue, asking your customers what they think can be a great guide to the direction you should take. If you wonder what your copy should say, how to approach your customers and what benefits to showcase in your marketing, there is only one easy answer: ask your customers.


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