Allrecipes’ Secret Ingredient: A Generous Helping of Community Data

allrecipesWhen the successful website launched their print magazine in the summer of 2013, the publisher bucked a major trend of magazines forsaking print for a digital-only product. The calculated risk has paid off beautifully, with the latest circulation figures reaching 900,000 according to Ellen Harvey in Publishing Executive.

The secret?

“Publisher Steven Grune credits the magazine’s focus on community and in particular its unique reflection of its sister brand,” Harvey says.

That, plus they’ve been scary smart about leverage their user data in ways that work for both the publisher and the readers. According to publisher Steve Grune of Meredith Corp (Allrecipes’ parent company) their roots as a digital brand were the key to their print success.

“We utilize data from an editorial standpoint to find out what this community of 38 million is searching for at any given time and curate that into a print product,” Grune explains. “We have this scientifically developed data-driven editorial calendar, which is unique in the marketplace. Almost no one has that capability because few have the audience data that has.”

A scientifically developed data-driven editorial calendar? Be still our magazine-loving hearts. This is perfection.

Too often it seems, publishers are creating digital content in the hopes of building engagement to boost ad rates and digital circulation, instead of to create better content. This is a huge shift in perspective for an industry mired in digital “likes” rather than true reader engagement.

It also puts a new spin on MPA’s new readership metric reporting features, just launched this week. At first glance these new measures seem most useful for justifying higher ad rates, but we expect truly data-savvy publishers will dive deeper and aim to garner actionable editorial insights from their reader behavior. And this is what will drive increased print sales and subscriptions.

Using digital channel behavior to influence editorial direction is apparently Allrecipes’ secret sauce, and one that other publishers would be smart to emulate. It sounds like a can’t-miss recipe for a delicious print product.