All Commentary
Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Strategic Notes from FEE—Know Your Audience

October 2014

As traffic continues to grow on, our objectives go beyond increasing sheer quantity to also increasing the quality of interactions. We want our new visitors to stay longer, browse, interact with our content, fall in love with our content, share it with friends, make repeat visits to the site, subscribe to our daily content stream and sign up for in-person experiences with FEE.

We also want to understand our visitors’ motivations, and how we can encourage more of them to take that next step along their own particular intellectual journeys. Thus, our website has a dual purpose, as a vehicle to reach our audience with ideas on liberty and as a laboratory to learn more about our audience.

To accomplish this, we’re making substantial investments in our online presence. We’ve added two new staff positions, including FEE’s first-ever marketing director Eric Kohn, with a decade of experience in all aspects of non-profit marketing.

To accelerate the process, we’ve asked our distinguished fellow Jeffrey Tucker to assume the additional role of senior consultant for media outreach. Jeffrey is well known to FEE audiences as a frequent writer and speaker on our behalf. He also has two decades of experience at managing online communities around ideas on liberty, so we’re thrilled that he’ll have his direct involvement with our website development.

To drive traffic, we’re stepping up our social media presence and we’re building out a livelier and more shareable blogging platform. To encourage people to explore the site, we’re building out a much more appealing and robust experience for the first-time visitor. We’re creating an ability to “serve up” content from our 68 years of priceless archives that’s customized to each visitor and related to whatever the visitor is viewing at the time.

At the same time, we’re building into the website the ability to capture every visitor’s behavior in detail, in a form suitable for analysis. At a basic level, we’ll have a better handle on what works and what doesn’t. At a deeper level, we’ll gain insight into what our audience expects from an experience with FEE and how we can serve them better.

In this way, when we induce new people to visit the site and to take a “next step,” we will understand better what piques their curiosity enough to visit the site and what captures their interest enough to engage further with it. This won’t change our philosophical principles in any way, but it will definitely inform how we present them and explain them to our readers.

We will thus create a virtuous circle, where more engaging content generates more traffic, which generates more “next steps,” which generates a better understanding of the audience, which enables us to improve our outreach even further.

It will take the better part of a year to complete everything we’re setting out to do in this initiative. In some sense we’ll never be completely finished, but I encourage you to visit, sign up for our daily e-mail, and follow us on your favorite social media site to watch the process unfold. If you see something that you like, please forward, share or retweet it, as you prefer. You never know what you’ll start.

  • Wayne Olson is the Chairman of FEE's Board of Trustees and a former executive director of the Foundation for Economic Education.