An advance Easter egg for our avid readers

Den Howlett Profile picture for user gonzodaddy March 22, 2016
We're bringing more goodness to our readers. This is the how and why.


As our UK and European readers start to think about the forthcoming Easter holiday, we decided to share with everyone what we are seeing as demand from our most avid readers who like to receive the periodic email digest that we send exclusively to subscribers.

Den dusted off his statistical skills and started analyzing what we are seeing from those who have signed up for various content over the last few weeks. The results are fascinating - or at least we thinks so.

One of the results is shown above. This graph aggregates the three different personas we identify when we ask subscribers to select the kind of information they'd like to receive. Very broadly, these are people who have self identified as one of: Buyer/researcher, PR/media/analyst or Vendor/SI. As you can see, they split in more or less the same proportions across every topic area.

Why do we split in this way? Several reasons:

  1. We want to have a good idea what the broad functional demographics look like.
  2. We know that we have audiences of different kinds. For example, we know that some vendors use us as a source of competitive intelligence. We also know that some financial analysts also use as a source t back up their own inquiries. It's also useful for our partners to get a bead on the kinds of people we are reaching. Some partners view our content as a way of keeping their own people fresh across topic areas.
  3. Readers are prepared to give us a minimum of information in exchange for value delivered. This is one dimension of that bargain.

On to the more juicy findings.

  1. On average, every subscriber wants coverage across 5.6 topics.
  2. 24% of all those who have signed up only want coverage of a single topic.

This is really important information. In years past, technology information consumers often fell into clearly defined functional areas. Our recategorization exercise showed us that we could mix some topics and still come up with coherent topics. More than that, our most avid readers clearly do not feel constrained by topics. This is an important shift because it speaks to the polymath nature of today's business IT information consumer.

We can infer that our most avid readers are sophisticated in their topic consumption and are likely to be leaders in their respective businesses. Think this is far fetched? Not really when you combine that with the fact that by far and away the most popular topics are use cases and digital transformation - the frictionless enterprise. Those findings alone have justified our firm belief that customers speak far more loudly than any technology analyst or marketer. For our partners, we call on them to see this as an incentive to help us discover more of those great success examples we know our readers are hungry to see. For our part, we shall be more insistent upon customer stories during the upcoming event season.

Looking at the graph, it may seem that a couple of topics are lagging but we did some more work on this and found that interest is as much a function of topic content creation as it is readership in over two thirds of cases. In short, we need to up our game on certain topics. Where to from here?

This analysis provides us with a couple of interesting problems. Do we mail out 5.6 pieces to every person? No - that doesn't make sense and would likely annoy our readers. But we can start by sending a digest based upon the most popular topic areas so that we reach a good number of our readers. But we plan on going much further.

We believe that what people want is information that matches their real world interests at the time they want to see it. To that extent, we are investigating how we can use machine learning to help both discover and deliver the information that REALLY matters and at the right time. This will not be a easy process and we will rely upon our most avid readers as the test bed for working this out. We have numerous questions to answer on this topic and are working with a service provider to determine not only if our immediate needs can be met but whether the operation can be fully automated and then fine tuned.

For our part, we have to continue driving content to where people want us to go. That process is under way and we are already seeing good results from certain proprietary in house process we are working upon. What does all this mean?

We anticipate moving from hand curating content delivery to an automated system that is overseen by our content curators. We will measure, test, measure and test until we've got this right. This will take time but we firmly believe the investment is worthwhile to both ensure that we continue to drive great content to a readership that gets value. If we do that, then everyone is a winner. What we won't be doing is slavishly following popular content ideas because we know that popularity at a point in time is more often a function of the consumer world than it is of the business world. We also know that perceived popularity takes you down an ad driven model which we already believe is a zombie economy. It would be a massive distraction for us and wholly at odds with what diginomica stands for.

In the meantime, if you are not a subscriber then we strongly suggest you consider this an opportunity to save both time and effort. That's what those subscription buttons are about. For those who would like even more than the digest, please check out the topic links. I produced a wee video on this the other week which should cover all the bases.

We're going to start delivery in earnest after next week. Let's see how that goes.

For those enjoying the Easter break - have a fab time; for the rest of us? There's always the weekend to look forward to.

Thanks folks


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