E-Media Strategist: Are You a Publisher or Direct Marketer?
It has been my observation that the most successful media companies look at themselves not as publishers, but as direct marketers. At first blush, this may seem ludicrous and may even offend many publishers and editors. We're content providers, not marketers or online retailers hawking our wares. But if we really stop to think about it, we'll see that thinking like a direct marketer as a publisher makes a lot of sense—especially as media continues to increasingly shift to digital.
Direct marketers such as online retailers live by two fundamental business principles: "attract, engage, convert, retain" and "measure, test, improve." Let's take a look how these principles also apply to media companies whether their primary revenue is selling content or advertising.
1. Attract the right market. Whether you are a publisher who sells content, advertising or both, your first objective must be to attract the right audience. Just as an online retailer website must feature products its customers want, your website must have the quality content and services your audience wants. You must then promote your content and services to attract the right audience to your website. Promotion tactics include search engine optimization, marketing through your offline products, buying advertising and encouraging your audience to evangelize and share your offerings with their personal or professional networks.
2. Engage them/get them to register. For publishers, engagement is synonymous with registration. I firmly believe that the No. 1 job of a publisher's website is to get people to register with a valid e-mail address. Registration is more important than selling content products or driving more ad impressions. If you get a visitor to register, you can now market to them over and over again, selling products, driving more page views, or generating leads for your marketing clients. Registration tactics include free premium content for members only, social participation (commenting, forums, networking) and registering for e-mail updates. Pay close attention to how prominent registration is on your site and how well you promote it. For most publishers, it's obvious that registration is an afterthought.
Eric Shanfelt is the founding partner of Nearview Media, a consulting firm that helps publishers with their digital revenue, audience and platform development. Eric is a 25-year digital media veteran and has been the Chief Digital Officer for several large publishing companies. You can reach Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.