The Mequoda Method is a set of principles and best practices we use to build Mequoda Systems that capture visitors’ email addresses and convert them into multiplatform magazine subscribers
We often work with publishers looking to sell more magazine subscriptions. When we start talking about the importance of building their email circulation first, we sometimes get looks of confusion. And this makes us realize that most of the publishers who approach us for help don’t initially fully understand what we do.
If you’ve attended any of our events, or read the Mequoda Daily regularly, you know that we live and breathe the Mequoda Method .
Mequoda didn’t invent this method. We’ve simply been watching the publishing industry for a very long time and have organized the successful strategies of publishers who have developed it by instinct. We’ve turned these strategies into a finely tuned system that we teach at our events and build for our publishing clients.
We have more than 60 live websites using the Mequoda System that we actively monitor, and are aware of dozens more that use all or some of our best practices. We also run our own Mequoda System, even though we’re a marketing services firm, not a publisher selling information products.
But despite the number of people that attend our events every year and read the Mequoda Daily, it’s become clear that many people don’t know what the heck we’re talking about when we say “Mequoda Method” or “Mequoda System.” To be clear, a Mequoda System is a website built on the principles of the Method.
We have many best practices for building a System based on this Method that change and evolve over time, but the main principles do not. The goal behind the Mequoda Method is to help publishers make more money with multiplatform magazine  subscriptions.
In a Mequoda System, the structure of the websites we’ve built for our clients with great success and profitability include these four main principles:
We see all four as stand-alone strategies that must all be completely interlocked in a Mequoda System. We use them because the publishers who come to us tell us they want more subscribers, and we explain that monetization doesn’t come first – it comes last.
First, you need to increase the volume of traffic to your website from the types of people who are most likely to subscribe.
Then, you need an email subscriber base, so you have to capture those qualified website visitors as email subscribers with a free download of some kind.
Then you spend time getting to know them, and proving that your free content is great, so it’s worth investing in your premium content.
Finally, you need a multiplatform magazine, so that you can more effectively convert email subscribers into a magazine subscribers on the platform(s) of their choosing.
Starting from the layer with the most visibility, we attract website visitors through search, then, for a smaller number of those who we attract, we’ll be able to capture their email addresses.
We will then engage an even smaller number of those captured subscribers with great content in order to keep them happy, and then make money doing so by monetizing the relationship and turning those engaged email subscribers into buyers.
This is the smallest number of people, however, and is fueled by the layers before it.
- Attract: We see SEO (great content + great keywords) as a primary driver of traffic. Some publishers opt to pay for traffic through PPC, but we believe that most publishers can build a steady stream of traffic through organic search by writing great original content and repurposing print content for the web in the form of keyword-optimized website portal posts and free reports. We’ve written in-depth about picking keyword fights you can win. 
- Capture: With enough content on your portal, you can turn your steady flood of web visitors into email subscribers by giving away free reports or other freebies. To capture visitors’ email addresses, the publisher only needs to implement appropriate conversion architecture  on every page of their website. We have a detailed post on capturing visitors into email subscribers here  and 35 steps for building an email list with freemiums. 
- Engage: All of your work attracting and capturing website visitors into email subscribers is for nothing if you can’t keep your readers delighted and engaged by your content. Don’t skimp on your content. It’s the only thing between you and our fourth principle.
- Monetize: Once someone is on your email list, whatever frequency your email schedule is, that’s how many times per week you have opportunities to sell them something. Without the first three principles, you only have one opportunity to sell them something, and those are the few moments from when they arrive on your site until they leave. By adding attraction, conversion, and engagement to your online strategy, you have hundreds of chances to get their attention by building a relationship with them through email.
All four of these strategies come with their own metrics.
- Your attraction metric can be defined by your Google visibility : How do you rank in the Google search engine? How many keywords are you targeting? How many of those keywords are you getting ranked on? How big is the keyword universe that you’re competing in?
- Your conversion metric is defined by your capture / conversion rate: How well are you turning website visitors into email subscribers? How many people come to your website and leave only after they’ve given you their email address? Check out our recommended 3C conversion architecture .
- Your engagement metrics are your email retention rates: How many of your email subscribers and social media followers are staying and engaging? Are your numbers going up, or down?
- Your monetization metric is your revenue per email subscriber: How many orders are you getting from that email list you’ve been building? How many people click through your email and actually buy something?
The return is simple.
- Double your website visibility, and you’ll double your magazine circulation.
- Double your email circulation, and you’ll double your magazine circulation.
- Double your engagement, and you’ll double your magazine circulation.
- Double your magazine circulation, and you’ll double your revenue.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Mequoda System is, and always will be, a work in progress. The internet is the biggest, fastest, beefiest, most extraordinary communications and marketing tool we have ever known – and it is relatively young. As the internet matures – and these new media empires along with it – our Method is reviewed, fine-tuned, tweaked, overhauled, and/or extended, as required.
We first published an introduction to the Mequoda System in 2006 , and we’ve expanded and contracted the number of strategies, but these four principles (attract, capture, engage, monetize) have stayed consistent throughout.
Just as you need to constantly review and reevaluate your media empire’s business model, we continually revisit the Mequoda Method and build Systems accordingly.