Focus and Diversify to Succeed Online

BTB Publisher Succeeds Online by Dominating FDA Niche

• Learn how Cindy Carter increased revenues 400% by becoming online centric
• Understand how she repurposes content from platform to platform
• Learn the email marketing secret for maximizing subscriber lifetime value
• Discover how to use online marketing to “focus and diversify” your publishing business

FDAnews is the premier provider of domestic and international regulatory, legislative and business news and information for executives in industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Focus on the Online Audience that Pays

In a brand and audience focusing exercise, FDAnews president Cynthia Carter launched when she recognized, immediately and intuitively, that the FDA information at her new employer’s publishing company was a small portion—perhaps 20 percent of the entire content—but accounted for 80 percent of revenues.

That was in 2000. Using what we lovingly call the Mequoda System, Ms. Carter launched

“I really saw the growth of the company coming from the FDA side, in the drug and device side of our business, so we decided to focus on that,” says Ms. Carter. “I knew that subscription newsletters were not going to be a high growth area for us going forward. Sales were flattening out. I knew we had to diversify.”

“The concept was to aggregate and basically, to create a portal,” says Ms. Carter. “I wanted a brand and a web presence that focused on what we do. And the question was, ‘How do you do it without spending a fortune?'”

Download a FREE copy of 7 Ways to Monetize your Portal Audience, and discover how today's top publishers are generating revenue through memberships, events, clubs, sponsorships, and more.

Ms. Carter launched her first email newsletter “FDAnews Drug Daily Bulletin” using her initial 1,800 name list and created the editorial content by repurposing content from the company’s existing paid print newsletters. Today FDAnews has four email newsletters and over 75,000 unique names in each marketing file.

Email Newsletters are Key to Online Marketing Success

The subscribers to these email newsletters account for 80 percent of their revenue, and are worth an average of $65. Advertisers and event sponsors generate the remaining 20 percent.

“We have more than one customer who will spend $15,000 on the basis of a single eblast,” Ms. Carter said. “And it happens fairly frequently.”

The company publishes ten paid newsletters that range in price from $550 to $1895. These subscription newsletters, some of which are delivered electronically, represent 48 percent of total revenue. Newsletter subscription income has remained flat, according to Ms. Carter. Instead, the company’s growth has come in audio conferences, books, management reports and advertising.

The publishing company sends staffers to six or eight industry trade shows annually, primarily to gather names for its free email newsletters (double opted in, of course). Sometimes the company offers free special reports as an incentive to opt in to a free email newsletter.

By asking ezine subscribers for individual demographic data (using additional free downloads as incentives), the company now has sorted its database into 10 discreet lists. Ironically, the majority of renewals, even for newsletters delivered electronically, are the result of direct mail, and the majority of subscribers pay from a paper invoice.

Download a FREE copy of 7 Ways to Monetize your Portal Audience, and discover how today's top publishers are generating revenue through memberships, events, clubs, sponsorships, and more.

“Our management report business is driven by our audio conference business,” explains Ms. Carter. “Management reports are basically repackaged audio conferences, with additional content from the company’s editorial files.”

The management reports are hot sellers, according to Ms. Carter. The company publishes about 50 management reports annually and each gets its own email and online marketing campaign.

Editorial Integrity is Cornerstone of Online Publishing Strategy

Ms. Carter has stressed the importance of the integrity of their content. “It’s the content that’s valuable,” explains Ms. Carter. They rarely offer a discount based on the media it is accessed by. The user will pay the same price regardless of whether they purchase a live audio conference, the 24/7 encore presentation of that audio conference, or a CD & transcript package. Similarly to audio conferences, their management reports are sold the same way; a user will pay the same price whether they get the report in PDF or print form.

Ms. Carter told us that audio conference encores, audio CDs and transcripts account for 25 percent of FDAnews’ business.

Her key metrics are daily, top lines sales by product type, and weekly web analytic reports. She tracks “eblasts” (free email newsletters) by segment of database, of which there are now 10, measured in revenue per week and per month.

In the past eight years, the publishing company has increased revenues four-fold, aggregating 80 percent of its new business from online marketing.

Today is a gateway to pharmaceutical drug and device news, newsletters, books, conferences, buyer’s guides, white papers, and all manner of FDA information.


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