Audiences Are (Still) Assets

How relevant is a book written ten years ago to a digital marketer today? 

A couple of weeks ago, I posed that very question on LinkedIn when I realized that my book, AUDIENCE: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans & Followers, was approaching nearly a decade in print. Over the course of this blog post and several to follow, I hope to answer that question, detailing where AUDIENCE was right, where it was wrong, and why it’s still relevant to marketers today—especially those leveraging ActiveCampaign to power their CRM, sales, and marketing automation efforts. 

Audiences are assets. 

That simple statement provides the foundation upon which my book was built. Sports and entertainment businesses always understood that audiences (a.k.a. “butts in seats”) are their bread and butter. However, with the rise of digital channels (email, mobile, social, and web), it was time for every business to recognize that it was in the audience business. Those who built larger, more engaged, direct audiences for their businesses would realize tremendous competitive advantages over those who instead continued to rely on paid media alone. 

Nailed it! And the proof is all around us. 

Proofpoint #1:
The Rise of Marketing Automation

Being a part of ActiveCampaign, you can’t help but eat, drink, and dream about marketing automation. Our customers are laser-focused on ensuring that they actively engage each new email SUBSCRIBER to serve their needs with personal, timely, and relevant communications. Marketing automation only succeeds if you have a robust audience acquisition strategy that turns SEEKERS into JOINERS with whom you can communicate directly and regularly (see Image 2). 

types of seekers amplifiers and joiners audience book page 11

I actually mentioned Marketing Automation only once in AUDIENCE (page 213). In retrospect, this feels like a miss since the first big acquisition in the space took place in December 2022. However, were I writing AUDIENCE today, Marketing Automation would receive far more ink as it is the way to generate far greater engagement with SUBSCRIBERS at scale in the moments that matter for every business. 

Proofpoint #2:
“Like, subscribe, and ring the bell”

This mantra didn’t even exist in the lexicon when I wrote AUDIENCE. However, it is ubiquitous in nearly every YouTube video today. Why? Because those creators don’t want a single view from one person; they want VIEWERS to become AMPLIFIERS and SUBSCRIBERS of their content, i.e., reach multipliers who ensure that with every new piece of content posted, their audiences gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger. 

The rise of content creators is proof positive that audiences are assets. The rise of Mr. Beast, the Paul brothers (Jake & Logan), Charli D’Amelio, and thousands of other influencers could not have happened in the old media world. They circumvented gatekeepers and built digital, direct audiences. And, in the greatest of ironies, brands who could build such audiences themselves paid (and continue to pay) those influencers big dollars to reach their audiences. 

Proofpoint #3:
It’s a Messi world, we just live in it.

Before news broke of Inter Miami CF signing Lionel Messi, the club had one million Instagram followers; 24 hours later, it had 5.9 million. Today, it has 15.3 million FOLLOWERS! That’s more than any other MLB, MLS, NBA or NFL team. Messi didn’t just boost Inter Miami CF resale ticket prices by 690%; he also increased the club’s revenue by 4x and the franchise value of the club by an estimated $1 billion

Yes, adding the world’s greatest player to your roster is going to have a positive impact on your team in a myriad of ways. However, Messi’s value isn’t only on the field. He has 488M FOLLOWERS personally on Instagram (@leomessi). Every post he makes in his bright pink Inter Miami CF jersey increases the club’s ROI on its Messi investment. More awareness = more interest = more FOLLOWERS = more SUBSCRIBERS = more CUSTOMERS = more $$$. Messi’s audience is an asset to him and his club. 

So, my decade-old statement that “audiences are assets” for every business has proved true. Not exactly earth-shaking, I’ll admit. But next time, we’ll explore whether I was right that marketers would gain greater respect by effectively becoming “asset managers” of those audiences.

Until then! 👍 👊 🤟