Open Access has changed the ways publishers engage and interact with their readership. While institutional subscribers, authors, and individual readers have more knowledge access than ever before, publishers have to work harder to understand and leverage the insights associated with their content and readership. 

As publishers seek to scale APCs and uncover new revenue models, there’s also greater emphasis and focus on understanding and serving the end reader. To do so, publishers must modernize their methods for interacting with their audience. Understanding what the readership truly wants and needs – and discovering new ways to monetize those offers – is the key to stabilizing the publishing business model in an OA world. 

Navigating Open Access with Personalization

Access to real-time audience feedback in the form of first-party data has revolutionized the ways digital marketers drive interest and action – from first brand interaction to post-acquisition nurture.  While using data to inform experiences has been mainstream in high-tech industries for years, scholarly and professional publishers are just starting to dip their toes into the world of data strategy

Colleen Scollans of Clarke & Esposito comments on how best practices from digital marketing can extend to the world of scholarly publishing: 

“I hope we will see publishers follow other industries and choose best-in-breed marketing technology over the complex, costly, and limiting monolithic marketing automation suites. Single Customer View, personalization, conversion optimization, campaign planning, marketing asset management, and marketing analytics top list of marketing technology investment.”

 - Colleen Scollans,  Practice Lead: Marketing & Customer Experience, Clarke & Esposito

In order to execute Scollans’s recommendations, publishers must be able to track, unify, and understand their first-party data. Once they do, they’ll be able to mobilize key audiences by developing highly targeted marketing campaigns and digital experiences based on what those groups want and need. 

Segmentation and Personalization

Segmentation is the grouping of individuals by preferences or behavior, providing an in-depth view of various like-minded groups. Segmentation allows publishers to serve their readership with personalized content and experiences based on their interests.

Personalization is one of the most effective strategies modern publishers can use to delight and engage their audiences. To do it effectively, publishers must focus on engaging and mobilizing the high-value audience segments that will help them reach their growth and engagement goals.

We spend a lot of time discussing personalization with publishers. Here are a few segments that our publishing clients are focused on developing this year: 


Top 4 Behavioral Segments for Publishers:

1. Topical Interest Groups

Publishers likely have an idea of what topics interest their readership – but what if they could drill down into specific interests based on individual consumption? What if you could track trending subtopics and organize your audience according to those niche reader behaviors?

This nuanced intelligence lives at the intersection of reader behavior and content data - and it’s incredibly valuable. Publishers inside of larger commercial organizations and associations can leverage this information to provide deeper insight into consumer interests and behaviors across other areas of the business. This intelligence can also be monetized – in the form of better in-platform targeting for commercial advertisers, or in the form of paid subscription communities.

So what does personalization for this segment look like? You could consider generating custom “for you” content recommendations to pull in other pieces that match their interests. You could also use this information to improve email targeting, sending fewer, better emails with the information you know will interest them.  


2. Engaged Authors

Recruiting authors and reviewers is one of the most common scenarios we discuss with scholarly and professional publishers. Chances are, your best authors and reviewers are also your most engaged readers.

When a publisher understands how authors are engaging with other content in the corpus, they can better serve them with the content they want to view. Understanding individual author preferences and behaviors helps publishers develop the right communications to keep them engaged, and nurture them towards publishing in your journal again in the future.  

Personalization for authors means focusing on those efforts that keep them engaged. You might try automating individualized email updates on how their articles are performing. This segment may also benefit from the “fewer, better email” approach mentioned above. 


3. Most Valuable Institutional Subscribers

Understanding reader behavior on an institutional level is key to defending renewals. Imagine sending your sales team into renewal conversations with exact details on how institutional readers engaged the content and products your organization offers. You’ll also have insight into what readers at each institution want to consume, helping your teams to upsell and/or rightsize the offer. 

This type of intelligence can be broken down by individual readers, or reader and author cohorts. You may, for example, report on institutional author affiliation, including details on performance of articles written by authors at an institution. 

Personalization for this segment is all in the sales approach. Your teams will be able to personalize the sales approach for each institutional client, ultimately improving the process for everyone. 

4. Anonymous yet Engaged Readers

Modern publishing, especially in an Open Access environment, is all about expanding reach and building engaged audiences. When set up with the right tracking tech, you’ll be able to understand not just the behavior of identified readers, but also the anonymous readers browsing your content. Understanding anonymous reader behavior can help you better serve and nurture them.

You could use the IP addresses of those anonymous readers to identify institutions or organizations to target with sales conversations. You might also nurture these readers on an individual level, by launching in-platform messaging designed to entice them towards making themselves known. 

Personalization efforts for anonymous readers are all about showing them you know them – even when you don’t. Consider the same “made for you” content widget recommended earlier. Hint: If your goal is identifying these readers, be sure that their “made for you” recommendations are full of lead magnets and webinars that require them to share their email. 


Get Started with Personalization

 Personalization in publishing requires a deep and nuanced understanding of your readership. Once you understand your audience, you can delight them with the content and experiences they are looking for.  Developing behavioral segments is critical to cultivating the deep audience understanding you need to launch personalization at scale.

Want to learn more about personalization in publishing? Check out our 2022 Personalization for Publishers Report, full of the latest trends and insights you need to get started with personalization.