Another new Mequoda multiplatform publishing system is born
Everyone loves to brag about their children, and at Mequoda we feel the same way about our clients. One of our most successful recent system launches was Metro Parent, a southeast Michigan-based online parenting community offering expert advice, stories on parenting trends and issues, and innumerable resources.
Metro Parent will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year, but in 2015 they’re celebrating a stunning success transitioning into the digital era by transforming their legacy ad-driven print magazine into a portal, directory, multiplatform magazine hybrid.
How successful is Metro Parent? In less than a year since the launch, their Google visibility index is 24.25% − meaning that their content ranks in the first few pages of Google search results for 24.25% of the keywords in their keyword universe. And if you think that’s impressive, I should note that we set 25% as an ambitious goal for Year Three of their five-year plan.
At the same time, since their launch, their unique visitor traffic has risen by 32.7%. Recently they hit 500,000 visitors for one month, a number they’d never reached before. While they know there will be months when that number goes down, as their traffic is somewhat seasonal, they’re thrilled to be thriving in this way and fully expect to make 500,000 the norm in short order.
A robust portal offering content in 90+ topics
First and foremost, Metro Parent is a robust portal offering editorial coverage on more than 90 topics, organized into 14 main categories like Family Activities, Camps and Classes, Food, Kids Sports and Pregnancy & Baby. In addition to the high quality editorial content available in each of the 90+ portal topics, visitors to the site can also subscribe for free to a daily email newsletter, the web edition of the magazine and can find related directory listings for local providers and sponsors in each of the 90+ portal categories.
Selling listings for fun and profit
As a directory site, Metro Parent excels at selling listings. Mequoda actually integrated Metro Parent’s portal content with the directory listings by creating a directory plug-in to their Haven system. This allows the editorial staff to automatically include the top 10 premium directory listings for any category into a related article in the portal. This combo of content and service listings offers a well-rounded experience for the Southeast Michigan parent visiting the Metro Parent site.
Partnering with sponsors to help write their story
Expanding their magazine footprint from a print edition to include a native tablet edition and a fully responsive web edition has enabled Metro Parent to partner with their sponsors on a deeper, more meaningful level. Now, in addition to being being able to offer sponsors the opportunity to place ads in the print edition, they can create custom content for their sponsors and offer to distribute this content across Metro Parent’s multiple channels and platforms. Today they sell integrated sponsorship packages that include the creation of custom content, along with the distribution of that content through their tablet edition, web edition, portal and email newsletters.
Becoming a Mequoda success story
We first met Metro Parent Vice President Alexis Bourkoulas and Editor in Chief Julia Elliott when we were presenters at a conference for parenting niche media in 2012. They liked our ideas, they liked us, and they just happened to be on the lookout for the next step they needed to take in the 21st century.
“We knew the landscape of our business was changing, that print was becoming less of a component of our business and that the real growth potential was digital,” says Elliott.
Elliott explains that while she normally isn’t a huge fan of consultants, she and Bourkoulas found that Mequoda’s ideas made sense to them, and that because we didn’t seem to believe we were infallible – as their experience told them is the norm with consultants – we could be trusted.
In particular, Elliott realized that our work with search engine optimization resonated. “The whole concept of keyword research made so much sense to me. I‘ve found that people don’t necessarily have an allegiance to a website,” she explains.
Case in point: A former employee had confessed to her that when researching parenting issues, the new mom didn’t go straight to Metro Parent even though she was familiar with the site where she once worked. Instead, she used Google to search for what she wanted.
And so, with shared goals and an understanding of the digital era, the partnership between Mequoda and Metro Parent was born, and the process of building a new Mequoda system was begun.
Elliott doesn’t deny that the process was stressful at times, particularly as Metro Parent already had a fairly robust website – albeit one on an antiquated platform – with decent visibility. They were a bit afraid they’d take two steps backward and only one forward, at least for awhile. But that never happened, and clearly they’ve been going full throttle with all of Mequoda’s best practices.
This was Elliott’s third website relaunch during her tenure at Metro Parent – and we’re pleased to hear that she found it the most seamless, efficient one of all. We can’t take all the credit though, because the Metro Parent team worked tirelessly to understand what they needed to do and how to make their Mequoda system function profitably.
That’s obvious from the numbers I just shared above. And Elliott offers some advice for other niche publishers who are also trying to make the transition to the digital age.
“Don’t believe in gimmicks,” she says firmly. The Mequoda process, she notes, is certainly hard work, but it’s not complicated. “It’s just about due diligence and making sure you don’t skip steps. Do your keyword research, post, promote, have realistic goals. There’s no shortcut, but it doesn’t have to be hard.”
And there you have it: Whatever your online revenue strategy, you, too, can be a Mequoda success story.
Does this example of multiplatform publishing success inspire you? Have you had similar experiences with the directory revenue model? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.