| By Marybeth Hicks

How to know if people are engaging with your content

For many Catholic dioceses and organizations, a membership publication is one of the largest line items in the budget. Catholic communicators know how crucial it is to be able to reach parishioners and supporters with content that conveys the pastoral and organizational priorities of a bishop or ministry. But how can you tell if your message is being communicated effectively? And how do you know if people are engaging with your content?

Here are five ways to be sure you’re sending the right messages with the most effective communications vehicle:

1.  Include calls to action in your content that can be measured. 

By including QR codes, registration information, phone numbers to call or ways to get more information about a program or activity, you can count the number of people who engage with your content. If you’re using a QR code, be sure the code in the publication is unique from other marketing methods so you can know for sure how many people took the next step due to the content they read in your publication.

2.  Conduct focus groups to learn more about reader engagement. 

Focus groups are a great way to obtain qualitative input on your publication. Gather together representatives from different parishes or randomly select members of your organization from your distribution list and invite them to participate in a focus group. Ask open-ended questions about your content or format to get participants’ opinions about what works and what can be improved. You can even do focus groups virtually, enabling you to get input from across geographical areas. Focus groups are especially effective when evaluating new designs or formats.

3.  Try A/B versions of your publication. 

Consider running two versions of a publication cover or two layout options, printing a limited number of each style. Use a focus group or small survey sample to evaluate your options.

4.  Make a change in format or content. 

Sometimes the best way to gather input from readers is to make a change! You’ll hear from those who support a new format or content offering as well as those who miss what you were previously doing.

5.  Ask your readers directly. 

Communicating directly to readers is the most effective way to know if your publication is being read and shared. Mailed or digital reader feedback questionnaires sent to a representative sampling of your readers should include questions about readership habits, content preferences and behaviors inspired or prompted by the content. You should also include demographic questions to give you an idea of who is in your audience. Regular readership assessments can guide a publication over time by helping to establish trends, measure engagement and alert editors to problems or concerns about a publication.


Communicating directly to readers is the most effective way to know if your publication is being read and shared.”