Sustaining engagement with "snowbirds"

By Daniel Williams Published January 12, 2016

For publishing companies based in the northern or “snow-belt” states, the winter months pose many logistical challenges, not the least of which involves delivering our products and advertising supplements to households and newsstands through all manner of inclement weather. The long, bitterly cold months also represent a mass emigration of readers seeking the comfort of the sun and warmer weather.   For many companies, these “snowbird” customers number into the tens of thousands, and their temporary exile can depress circulation volumes by 20-30%, with similar but slightly lower declines experienced on website traffic.

On the flip side, the southern markets where snowbirds congregate reap the benefits of this influx of readers during the winter, then experience a similar trough during their summer months.

This phenomenon - and the availability of valuable data - provides publishers on each end of the geographic spectrum an opportunity to facilitate continuous reader engagement with their news brands, and preserve connections to the community they call home – even if only for a portion of the year.

To illustrate the point, consider this geo-spatial report that displays the distribution of email “opens” for a daily e-newsletter delivered by LEAP Media Solutions on behalf of a newspaper client located in New England.

LMS - Snowbird Click Map

The heaviest concentration of engagement occurs in its home market state and in Florida, where a large number of its registered readers and subscribers have relocated for the winter.   In this particular instance, 31% of engagement with this daily newsletter involved readers with IP addresses based in the state of Florida.   Because this publisher has implemented an array of tactics to capture subscriber and registered user emails on an opt-in basis, they can continue to serve relevant content to these “snowbird” readers in ways that were not available as recently as two years ago.

Back in July, we explained that daily newsmedia companies operate from a position of strategic advantage relative to other competitors due to the variety of online and offline engagement platforms that we used to capture valuable reader data (“5 steps to transform raw email into strategic”). To leverage this opportunity, however, requires a data-driven approach that connects raw email data with physical customer records.

Companies who follow these five continuous processes create the necessary foundation for sustaining interest and engagement throughout the year, and do so in a way that transcends the traditional geographic definition of a market.

-Identify and consolidate all email data into a single audience management system

-Perform data hygiene and record validation

-Reverse-append physical address data

-Enrich with demographics and lifestyle data

-Segment customer data based on identifiable and distinguishable characteristics

By identifying, validating, connecting, enriching, segmenting, and most importantly - activating - these print and digital data assets, publishers benefit from their ability to distribute relevant content (and advertising messaging) throughout the year to individual users, no matter where they happen to reside today or tomorrow.

Dan Williams is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of LEAP Media Solutions.

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