The Knot Finds Success in Change
By Marrecca Fiore
The Knot.com has become online's most popular bridal site with more than 100 million monthly page views, 3.2 million of which are uniques, by never doing the same thing twice, said Knot CEO and founder David Liu Wednesday during an MPA-sponsored Breakfast with a Leader session.
Liu's company, which launched the magazine The Nest in October 2004, said success in the Internet space is defined by change. "We've been doing this for 10 years so we've seen the Internet explode and implode," he said. "We've made it through recession and terrorism. Being on the Internet is kind of like being a building that always has scaffolding on the outside. We're always in change, but our competition has hardly changed at all."
The Knot, which has a 100 percent audience turnover rate due to the nature of its audience, has found success in both print and online by listening to its audience through its message boards, Liu said. "We have the fastest growing community message boards online," he said. "The idea for The Nest came from listening to our audience."
Not changing, Liu said, has cost many publishers their customers. He pointed out that the innovative offerings at babycenter.com help it attract four times the consumers of American Baby's Web site and 500 times the consumers of Parenting.com. TripAdvisor.com, he said, gets 200 times the Web traffic of Travel & Leisure's site, and news.yahoo.com gets 9,000-times the traffic of Newsweek.com.
This philosophy also has helped The Knot grow its customer base without spending money on advertising, Liu said. With its message boards telling The Knot that its audience has "babies on the brain," 65 percent of its readers will have a baby within three years of their wedding day, the company plans to launch [n] baby in the first half of 2007. "We want to continue to grow in all forms of media and to continue not spending on the acquisition of customers," he said.
The company also has no plans to discount subscriptions to The Nest or other print publications to entice customers, Liu said. "It's $15 for four copies and we think it's worth it," he said. "It's not the size of the ratebase we're trying to sell. We want to deliver 400,000 newlyweds to our advertisers each year. And the same thing goes for our annual wedding magazine. It costs $10. We're not trying to artificially inflate our ratebase. We want to be profitable and we believe that this model can work."
About The Knot
Year launched: 1996
Monthly page views: 100 million
Unique monthly visitors: 3.2 million
Other brands: The Nest, Promspot.com, Partyspot.com, Greatboyfriends.com
December 1999: Raised $35 million in initial IPO offering and $70 million in financing from Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, QVC Inc., The May Department Stores, T. Rowe Price and Capital Research.
2003: First year of profitability
April 2005: The company re-lists on NASDAQ under the symbol "KNOT"