Sarah Marshall, Head of Audience Growth at Vogue International and speaker at our upcoming Customer Engagement Transformation Conference, gives insight into her case study and role …

1. You are head of audience growth. But what does that title mean?
My team supports the growth of the Vogues and GQs around the world – from British Vogue and British GQ, to the titles in France, India, Russia, Japan, China, to name but a few of our markets.
We work with the editors around the world to help the Vogues and GQs to reach new audiences and engage existing audiences digitally, whether via the websites or off platform, which includes Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, WeChat, Weibo, Zen Yandex, LINE.

The audience growth team
● Sets strategy, such as working with editors on their growth plans for each year
● Share best practice, such as a growth book with lessons from across the Vogues
and GQs
● We offer training, such as SEO and social

2. Has this role of audience growth editor always existed in newsrooms?
Audience growth – or audience development – roles have sprung up over the past 5years.  A key moment was the launch of the New York Times Innovation Report in 2014. That internal report recognised “the need for audience-development specialists to get Times content in front of more readers.” In my view, Audience development is about taking the overall goals of the news
organisation, whether they be advertising revenue and/or a growth in the number of paying subscribers, and working backwards to develop a strategy to help the news
organisation achieve those goals. We call it audience growth at Vogue and GQ as we want to show intent. We are working to double the size of our website audiences from 2017 to 2020.

3. Can you provide us with an insight into a ‘day in the life’ of your role?
My role is very data informed. I start the day by looking at the stories that the Vogues published the previous day. I sort the stories by those that reached the greatest
number of readers. I look for themes and then send an email to all the Vogue editors around the world with the subject line ‘Daily stats 📈: 3 things to know’. These are key growth lessons from the stats. I then support my brilliant team. The SEO editors may be working with a particular Vogue on an evergreen strategy or giving optimisation advice around a key news story
or event to a GQ editor.

My team of audience growth editors focus on content strategy and distribution strategy. They may be guiding the central team of editors on shaping stories, particularly on headlines; guiding evergreen content strategies or doing work around series, which keep readers returning. They think audience-first in how people will find stories, whether via homepage, email, Google, Facebook or Instagram, for example. I’m spending quite a lot of my time at present on product strategy, ensuring our websites are optimised for SEO.

4. Can you provide a sneak peak into your case study?
The case study I will be discussing is work we have done to find out the ‘needs’ of the Vogue audience. Our audience research team asked 3,000 loyal Vogue readers and 2,000 non-Vogue readers what needs they had. They found five needs: Divert me, update me, inspire me, educate me and make me responsible. My team then analysed every story that each Vogue published for a month and looked at the need each story met. We found that while 53% of people say they have the need of ‘make me responsible’ only 2% of our stories in March responded to that need. We can look to commission more of those stories now that we understand the needs of the audience.

5. What are you most looking forward to about the event?
I love telling the story of Vogue. From the 127-year history and heritage to the work we are doing right now. I’ll be sharing a brand new study that we are about to roll out. I’m excited to give conference delegates a sneak peak.

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