Never bite the hand that feeds you feedback

Editor in Chief Joe Feeley wants ControlDesign.com to be the first web resource that members of Machine Builder Nation think of when they have a problem to research and resolve.

Joe FeeleyBy Joe Feeley, Editor in Chief

I'D WORRY if I didn’t catch some heat from readers once in a while. Even twice in a while. You’ll never hear me complain that we get too much reader reaction.

I want to spend some time this month on reader reactions to two things we’ve done, because I suspect they’re things that many more of you think about too.

Item one, as the TV guy says: advertising studies. Twice a year, we hire a company to ask about 100 readers their reactions to the ads that appear in a given issue. Ever since the Internet killed off those reader service cards (circle the number, mail it in, wait seven weeks), advertisers have had a hard time measuring apparent effectiveness. We all appreciate the clarity of measurable response.

A few of you told me, among other things, that this was a big intrusion on your time—it also was tedious and only provided a “chance” to win something for the effort.

What’s this got to do with the editorial content of the magazine, you ask? Well, anything we send to our readers points directly back to me to explain. Even advertising issues.

I can tell you this method seems to be the most straightforward, and aims to answer the relevant questions as cleanly as possible. We don’t offer a prize to everyone, because we think we get better responses from those who simply are willing to respond because we asked. The raffle is just a small way of expressing thanks. I’d be pleased to hear about any alternatives you might envision for this process.

We, just like every for-profit company, have to demonstrate to our revenue streams that we’re a good investment. This is significant, especially because we refuse to publish advertiser or potential advertiser-authored articles in the magazine. No other trade magazine in our market segment does this. We try to provide the most-balanced, reader-advocacy-centric content in our industry, and, as some consequence of that, we’ve a reader loyalty that advertisers are wise to get in front of. We do, however, owe them some evidence that you see their ads in a way that gives them hope that you’ll buy their wares if it’s appropriate to your needs.

Item two is about web site registration. I took it on the chin when I told some readers that we’re going to ask ControlDesign.com visitors to become members of Machine Builder Nation by registering to access our White Paper library, in a fashion similar to signing up for the magazine. Our motives here are almost entirely selfish, but, I hope, defendable.

You’ve heard me say before that we want ControlDesign.com to be the first web resource you think of when you have a problem to research and resolve. For us to properly fund the infrastructure work required, we need to sell ad space and vetted sponsorships. As with the magazine, advertisers want to know that the visitors are potential purchasers. We can better demonstrate that with the anonymous demographics we collect when you register, and we can make better content decisions for the site. We also want to build up the number of visitor e-mail addresses we have, since this is relentlessly becoming the primary contact method for most of us. The opt-in method makes certain we don’t abuse the information.

This also pointed me to a question for you: should we provide a place on the website for you to add your comments about the place, as you do for Feedback in the magazine?

Like I said, we never can get too much reaction to what we do.

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