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Archive for Subscription Website Publishing

Subscription Website Publishing posts focus on what to consider when building and operating a subscription website.

In this section, you’ll learn the difference between membership and subscription sites, how to build a successful subscription website, increase sign-ups, align content, and the best practices for running successful subscription websites.

Free Download: Learn how to choose the best subscription pricing and single-copy pricing strategy for your subscription websites and subscription apps when you download a FREE copy of our How to Use Contrast Pricing to Increase Subscription Revenue report today.

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An Access Challenge Landing Page Worthy of the New York Times

TimesSelect generated more than a half million new subscribers in its first 12 months

After previously having offered access to its archived content for free, and charging only for access to its celebrated, syndicated columnists, a new revenue model has emerged at the New York Times.

The Times now offers three levels of information. At the lowest level, most of the current day’s news is available without charge to all The New York Times website visitors.   Continue

How One Successful Publisher Uses Book Sales to Drive Website Traffic

How the Motley Fool Uses their Offline Presence to Drive and Monetize Website Traffic

The Motley Fool boasts a strong online legacy, combined with—from its earliest years—a strong offline product presence. The company began as a pioneering partner of AOL in 1994; shortly thereafter, was launched. By 1996, The Motley Fool had published the first of eight best-selling books in partnership with Simon & Schuster. Subsequently, several additional books were self-published under the Fool Publishing brand.   Continue

The Hybrid Website Archetype

Hybrid Websites come in many variations as they successfully and often unsuccessfully merge functionality from two or more of the other website archetypes and sub archetypes into a single (often confusing) user interface.   Continue

The Brand Website Archetype

Brand Websites are used by all manner of non-online product and service organizations to build brand preference for the organization’s offline products and services. Brand Websites exist to alert consumers to online and brick and mortar retailers where purchases can occur.   Continue

The Lead Generation Website Archetype

Lead Generation Websites generate revenue by providing sponsors with qualified leads. Users shop for products and services in an effort to save time and money, while the seller pays for content creation and co-branding value. Plus, the seller pays a transaction fee for each qualified lead.   Continue

The Classified Website Archetype

Classified websites generate revenue by facilitating commercial transactions between buyers and sellers of products or services. There are at least four major variations of the Classified Website Archetype; Classified Retail Websites, Classified Directory Websites, Classified Employment Websites and Classified Service Websites, all of which we will discuss in this chapter.   Continue

The Retail Media Website Archetype

Every Retail Media Website has two business goals. First, the website must allow users to buy products. Second, the website must begin a user relationship with both buyers and non-buyers that will lead to future sales.   Continue

The Membership Website Archetype

A membership website is a user driven, content-based website satellite that generates the majority of its revenues from user access fees. This website business model is similar to a book club, professional association or user group that accepts little or no advertising, relying primarily on user support.   Continue

The Internet Hub Archetype

Mequoda views Internet Hubs as one of the most important website archetypes available to a publisher. Without a well-designed, well-marketed Internet Hub, an online publisher is forced to rely on other websites and other media to drive targeted website traffic.   Continue

Using Website Archetypes to Optimize the User Experience

Choosing the right business model and supporting infrastructure for any business is a key strategy for business success.

Mequoda uses the term “archetype” to help understand and categorize kinds of sites. An archetype is a pattern or design upon which all other similar things are patterned. The Mequoda Research Team has analyzed more than 2,000 media websites and concluded there are seven primary archetypes. Each of these seven archetypes has many sub archetypes that represent significant variations in information architecture on the primary theme.   Continue

Online Publishing Strategy: Make Websites More Senior Friendly

U.S. Government Creates Guidelines

If the target market for your email newsletter or membership website is older Americans, you might want to heed this advice on senior-friendly websites from the National Institute on Aging. If fact, you might find these suggestions are worthwhile for any group squinting at the computer screen.

“Plain text, plain type, and plain terms are plainly effective ways to broaden the reach of a website to an older audience,” says the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine.   Continue

Website Usability Testing Should Determine Whether you Change your Website Design

Experts on Website Design and Website Usability Testing Can Disagree

“Never redesign your website,” says one of my esteemed mentors and colleagues.

Disturbing words, especially because, as a website design expert and information architect, I spend 50+ hours a week explaining to clients why and how they must redesign their websites.   Continue

Landing Page Optimization Conversion Index

A Mathematical Formula for Increasing Landing Page Conversion Rates

Last week at the SIPA event in Las Vegas, we heard from Jalali Hartman, Director of Strategy at who shared with us a formula for improving our landing page conversion rates.

In a presentation titled “5-Step Plan to Skyrocket Your Registration Funnel Conversion Rate”, Mr. Hartman shared with us the MEC Conversion Index, which is a mathematical formula for analyzing the probability of your landing page conversion rates.   Continue

Five Tips for Keeping Visitors Around and Convincing Them to Order

As you may already know, most people arrive at a website and within less than 10 seconds can determine whether it’s clean, professional and worth their time. Your landing page delivers the first impression. It’s usually the most important page on your site. It needs to be a fast, effective messenger.

With a quick glance, visitors to your site should know exactly what your site is all about or what your business does. Determine what image and message you want the customer to “get” in those first few seconds, and design your landing page toward that objective. Anything that distracts from the central message or image you wish to project should be eliminated.   Continue

A Simple Formula for Writing Compelling Book Titles, PR Headlines or Email Subjects

The most succinct copywriting tip we’ve heard in a long time came from Fred Gleeck at a product development seminar. Fred cited this maxim in a discussion of how to title your book. But the adage is just as valid whether you’re writing a headline for an advertisement or a press release, or a pithy subject line for a convincing email message, or a list of product benefits.   Continue

Are You the 1 Person in 4 Who Reads Beyond the Ineffective Headline?

Copywriter reveals why many online sales letters fail to deliver

The Internet creates new challenges for marketers and wordsmiths, but a fundamental principle still applies

Experts tell us that in print ads, 75-80 percent of all buying decisions are made by reading the headline alone.   Continue

The Secret of the Four-Legged Stool

The four-legged stool technique was developed originally by Bill Bonner of Agora Publishing, strictly for selling financial newsletters.

Expert copywriter Robert W. Bly noticed, however, that these four elements also work for 90 to 95 percent of all information products.

The concept is pretty simple: a four-legged stool is very stable. If you pull one leg off, it’s only relatively stable—you can still sit on it, but not as comfortably as you would a four-legged stool.   Continue

Four Powerful Tools for Converting Website Visitors to Email Subscribers

Online marketers have four powerful tools for converting website visitors to email newsletter subscribers:

All of the above are entry points into the conversion flow. They may link to the Rapid Conversion Landing Page or to the first data collection page in your order flow—depending on the amount of information the user has received about the offer.   Continue

The Danger of the Big Promise

The Secondary Promise is a lesser benefit that the product also delivers.

Although not as large as the Big Promise, the Secondary Promise should be big enough so that, by itself, it is reason enough to order the product… yet small enough so that it is easily believed.

This way, even if the reader is totally skeptical about the Big Promise, he can believe the Secondary Promise and order on that basis alone.   Continue

Three Requirements of a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) as Defined by the Man who Invented the Term

Rosser Reeves wrote a classic advertising book in 1961 titled Reality in Advertising. Many of us newcomers have never read this book, mostly because it’s widely unavailable.

But lucky for us, Robert W. Bly spent $95 for it on eBay and shared with us at this year’s Mequoda Summit Reeves’ three requirements of a USP (Unique Selling Proposition):   Continue

Organic Landing Pages vs. Conversion Landing Pages & Understanding the Difference

What is a landing page?

Some say “it’s the first page someone sees on your site”. Others say “it’s a webpage viewed after clicking a link in an email.”

We’ve also heard it referred to as “a specific page a visitor reaches after clicking a search engine listing” or “a location a user is directed to or ends up at after clicking on a link or typing in a command.”

All of these definitions are true.   Continue

How Print Magazines are Losing Core Readers

Earlier this week, I got my annual physical (the doc says I’m in good shape for an old guy). My new MD looks to be about 35 making me about 15 years his senior—me having just turned 50 last December.

While waiting in various states of dress and undress, I found myself trying to read Time and U.S. News. I say “trying” because the type size in both print magazines was too small for me to read comfortably—even with my reading glasses in a well-lit room. My guess is that both magazines are running some variation of a 9 to 10 point serif typeface with some degree of compression.   Continue

The Mequoda SEO Process

Every good wordsmith approaches the task of writing a little differently. Some writers start with an outline or by making copious notes. Others write numerous disparate paragraphs at non-stop speed and then revisit their first draft, cutting and pasting to arrange them in a “logical” order. Still others agonize over the lead or headline and feel compelled to get them perfect before they can write a single second sentence.   Continue

The Four “U”s for Writing Great Headlines

At this week’s Mequoda Summit, Robert W. Bly, the man McGraw Hill calls “America’s best copywriter” will deliver a presentation titled “World’s Best Kept Copywriting Secrets”. He also has a book by the same name.

In his presentation on Friday afternoon, Bob will reveal tips for writing great headlines, great outer envelope messages and will demonstrate how to deliver a complete and compelling message.   Continue

Using a Unique Style of Copywriting Called “Fascinations” to Mesmerize Readers and Drive Sales

Landing Page Design Tips: Want to know a secret? Of course, you do. Everyone loves secrets. As Homo sapiens we always want what we can’t have and that includes desiring an edge over our competitors or discovering some nugget of information that’ll add value to all facets of our lives; whether its business, financial, personal or dealing with our health.   Continue

Online Conversion Architecture Registers Visitors and Starts a Direct Relationship

By building effective conversion architecture, you can build a direct relationship with the customer—a relationship that can be monetized down the road by targeting marketing messages for relevant products of increasingly greater value. This is also the step where, unfortunately, many publishers slip up.   Continue

The “Who Else” Formula for Writing Landing Page Headlines

People use formulas for a reason, and the reason is that they work. An example is the “who else” formula for writing headlines—”Who Else Wants to Speak French Confidently and Fluently in the Shortest Possible Time”.

The headline, while not brilliant, shocking or hypnotically compelling, is relevant and attention-getting to those interested in learning French.   Continue

Eight Website Usability Terms you Should Become Familiar With

Having just conducted a mini-usability test this week with a very confused customer, I have website usability on the brain. We have some tests scheduled for the end of September that I just cannot wait another second for!

As many of you know, website usability is a hot issue in Web development, most likely because, over the past decade, so many websites were launched without any user testing at all, leaving the Web littered with confusing and unusable interfaces.   Continue

Using Card Sorting to Understand How Users Organize Content into Clusters

Perhaps you’re confident of the words you must use on your website but not how they should be organized. Our usability expert, Roxanne O’Connell, likes to make that a job for a Card Sort Test. This test is especially helpful if you have a lot of categories or sections and you want to know how users expect to see those organized.

As the name implies, a Card Sort requires the test participant to sort cards, each with a word or statement printed on it, according to the user’s mental model of the relationships between the words or statements. The test facilitator then records the sort in a spreadsheet.   Continue

Tips for Deciding Which Words to Use on your Website

As our usability guru, Roxanne O’Connell is fond of saying, the cardinal rule when deciding on which words to use to describe the various departments, sections and categories on your website is to ask, “What would a user call this?”

Not “What do the business people call this?” or “What does the boss call this?” …or worse “What made-up marketing term can we call this?”

The only words that count at the end of the day are those that your intended users associate with what they are trying to find at your site. And there are a couple of ways you can find these words.   Continue

A Rule of Thumb to Follow When Driving Traffic into a Dedicated Landing Page

The Mequoda Landing Page Scorecard outlines the 12 characteristics a landing page needs to successfully close sales online. And to incorporate all 12 characteristics typically, at least for a consumer product, requires medium-to-long copy on that landing page.

But should you send your traffic directly to that long-copy landing page? Or will visitors be put off by its length?   Continue

A Textbook Lesson in How to Create Interest in a Product

A bulleted list of “secrets” that your product or service promise to reveal can sometimes be the strongest element of your online sales letter. In fact, the words copywriters most often use are practically a textbook lesson in how to create interest in a product.   Continue

Be Specific About Your Brand Name Online

“Executive Travel Guide”, or is it “eSkyGuide,” or maybe just “Executive Travel”?
Owned by American Express Publishing, eSkyGuide should have the backing to do this website design right. But upon analyzing their site, we realize we don’t even know what to call it.

Should we go by the URL? By the nameplate? The nameplate actually wasn’t much help, because on the left side is one logo “ExecutiveTravel SKYGUIDE” and on the right side—in a slightly larger font but with the same design treatment—is another logo “ExecutiveTravel.” Reading within the site, and the URL, lead us to think the brand is called eSkyGuide. Even deeper in the site, we found the title ExecutiveTravelOnline. So, which is it?   Continue

Designing Aesthetically Pleasing Websites

The average user expects professional websites to be clean in appearance, rich with information, and intuitive in terms of navigation. In Mequoda terms, the aesthetics of a site should support its purpose and match the user mental model—or be appropriate for the people that the website serves.   Continue

A Few Copy Mistakes to Avoid on Your Landing Page

When we review landing pages, it’s common for us to come across letter copy that’s competent but average, and there are many things in the copy that our copywriters would change.

For example, on, a landing page dedicated to selling a Feng Shui book, there is no bio of the book’s author. So we don’t know his credentials or qualifications as a Feng Shui expert, except for some mention of learning Feng Shui from his grandmother. If that’s his only credential, more should be made of that story; maybe grandma should be positioned as the Feng Shui master.   Continue

Become More Consistent in the Use of Blue Hypertext Links

Every website we review seems to have the inevitable Achilles’ heel. And on most sites, no matter how successful their website design is otherwise, it tends to be their inconsistent use of blue hypertext links. is an example of this. This is a bit of a disappointment for a site that does so many other things with precision and excellence.

As we noted in our Website Design Review, most of the hypertext links are blue, but not all are underscored. That inconsistency is annoying and can be confusing.   Continue

A Tool for Testing Website Load Time

As webpages grow more complex and designers strive to provide impact and interactivity, loading a page can take longer and longer—even over high speed connections. Slow-loading pages will cause losses in the number of readers, page views and advertising impressions, and, as a result, losses in revenue.   Continue

Make your Email Signup Box as Noticeable as Possible

We recently reviewed a membership website,, that offers a free weekly embroidery newsletter called “Bobbin-Buzz”. We would consider this free email newsletter the Mequoda hub of this membership website.

For a needlecraft hobbyist, the offer is practically irresistible. Every week, the publishers of “Bobbin-Buzz” and award one free email subscriber a $25 gift card to the online fabric and craft store Plus, every week, subscribers to Bobbin-Buzz get free designs, great articles, inspiration and more.   Continue

Tips for Providing Urgency and Content Freshness on your Website

The “Content Freshness” guideline asks the question, “Is there a reason for the user to return frequently to the site?” The Internet is a 24/7 medium, and visitor attention and enthusiasm can be very short-lived. Research indicates that websites with a high update frequency generate more repeat visits per month per unique user. Therefore, websites should be considered “works in progress” that are constantly updated—if only to avoid boring repeat visitors.   Continue

Make Sure Your Landing Page Headline Offers a Benefit and Backs up the Claim

Offer a Benefit in Your Landing Page Headline

We love it when we find a headline on a landing page that actually offers a benefit and a subhead that backs up the claim. For example, this headline from the Videos by Darrell Crow Landing Page offers a clear benefit:

“Learn to Oil Paint Even if You’ve Never Held a Paint Brush Before. No Talent Required”.

The message is very clear and it jumps right to the point of the landing page.   Continue

The First Rule of the Mequoda Marketing System

The first rule of the Mequoda Internet Marketing System is to make it as easy as possible to start a customer relationship—and give something away. Don’t ask for the money right away. But gives away volumes of priceless content without even asking for an email address in return.   Continue

Tips for Using Website Real Estate to Facilitate User Goals

Every part of the page—particularly the homepage—must be utilized to facilitate the strategic objectives of the site. Using marketing quadrants to build relationships and communities among users, or to generate brand-related revenue is the sign of a well-designed site. The site’s primary objectives—site navigation, internal and sponsor-driven advertising, and, of course, content—should be appropriated effectively to the four quadrants. Don’t waste any of the valuable real estate that a page provides with blank space.   Continue

Why You Should Test the Graphics on Your Landing Pages

Landing Page Design: Always Test Graphics

The Taguchi method of landing page testing identifies the following factors or variables that are worth testing on any given landing page:   Continue

Helping Users Find Things Easily and Quickly Using Persistent Navigation

The key to persistent navigation is to help the user find anything on the site, fast. No clicking about, desperately hitting the back button. Make it clear where they are, and how to get somewhere else. Even with deep layers of content, multiple topics and content formats, covering three continents— answers this challenge. The navigation strategy includes:   Continue

Three Reasons to Use Paper Prototyping Before Building Websites

Getting the design of your website right often proves to be a daunting task. The development costs alone for creating a website with a unique value proposition can be staggering. Our inside joke on that is, “How do you create a $10 million Web business? Start with $38 million and work your way down.”

Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to guess what your customers expect? The good news is YOU CAN—and without writing a single line of HTML code. If you have paper, pencils and some simple office supplies, you and your team of designers and developers can ask users to test your website before you even build your first page.   Continue

Five Tips for Improving Website Readability and Content Density

The ultimate goals of website readability are to make the site inviting, the format clean and well balanced and the experience pleasant. Here are five graphic tips for improved website readability.   Continue

A Simple Technique for Increasing Email Newsletter Signups

One of the Internet’s leading online publishers tested a simple technique for increasing his email newsletter signups and saw a very impressive lift as a result.

The leading publisher is Andrew Palmer, Director of Ecommerce and Web Marketing for Agora Financial. Andrew calls this technique the “Free on Free” offer. He shared the details of his test and the results with us at the Landing Page Driven Internet Marketing pre-conference workshop we hosted at SiPA conference in DC earlier this month.   Continue

Two Website Design Complaints Users Have When Browsing Sites

When browsing websites, there are a few common affordance issues that make it hard for a user to comfortably travel around a site.   Continue

Two Tips to Help Determine Your Site’s Labeling and Language

Use a free keyword generator such as the Overture Keyword Selector Tool to find out the best words to use. Enter a word to find out its relative popularity ranking on search engines. The added bonus is that key phrases and words that the audience understands will also improve the site’s ranking on search engines, which are designed to evaluate relevancy as a “human” would.   Continue

Three Tips for Making Your Landing Page Viewable Across Multiple Browsers

Internet Explorer, the pundits tell us, accounts for up to 95 percent of all Web browser traffic. So why should we care about that small minority of surfers who prefer alternative browsers such as Netscape, Mozilla Firefox, Opera and Safari?   Continue