Every new line of business publishers pursue—e-commerce, lead-gen, and so on—inherently requires a certain degree of cross-platform selling and conversion. In other words, as publishers expand their product platforms, so go the opportunities to grow overall audience numbers.
While each product platform still requires its own promotion efforts, there is a broader audience growth implication. Simply growing print for the sake of print ignores opportunities in other areas of business. “I’m not sure you can detach those things,” said Abraham Langer, SVP of audience development and digital media at b-to-b publisher 1105 Media. “But there also has to be broader audience acquisition. What’s the point of growing your audience if you’re not converting it?”
Langer views product platforms, and their marketing, in four buckets—print, Web traffic, enewsletter subscriptions and events. “We look at audience development across all four,” he said. “That’s not to say that we don’t engage in audience development for each of those, but the promise of one area impacting the other is how you aggregate and leverage audience information from one to the other.”
Eventually, however, platform marketing will diverge between marketing to existing customers and prospect marketing. For this, 1105 is on the verge of launching a new Web-based product that will act primarily as a prospecting and general audience growth vehicle. “We’re moving towards trying to find an interesting way of essentially creating a large funnel on the front end. [The product] will cast a broad map of audience acquisition that in turn will be fed into our aggregated data stores and leveraged for print, Web and event marketing. The goal is to give ourselves a strong prospecting database for all our lines of business.”
The prospecting database will exist in parallel to current customer databases that are aligned with product platforms, but are then aggregated into a combined database.
At Rodale, a more aggressive Web traffic growth strategy in 2009 has paid off in print subscriptions. “Women’s Health and our sports titles, including Bicycling, Runner’s World and Running Times, are up a combined 51 percent in subscriptions generated online,” said John McCarthy, SVP of customer marketing. Across all Rodale titles, he added, Web-sourced subs are up 20 percent.
McCarthy noted that while oraginic growth will remain important, the company will begin exploring third-party partnerships to expand audience reach for advertising and e-commerce. “We know how to monetize health and wellness traffic and these deals should allow us to throw off significantly more revenue, quickly.”