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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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A Few Quick Tips for Clearly Differentiating Paid Content from Free Content

The strategy of the ConsumerReports.org homepage is very clear in differentiating Paid Content from Free Content. Here are some tips to adopt from their successful membership website:   Continue

Avoid the Two Huge Mistakes Made Often by Website Designers

If the user is expected to execute an action, use a button with a clear, unambiguous label, placed in a logical location for the desired outcome. Text links should be underlined and change in appearance once the user has visited that page.   Continue

Three Website Design Tips from CooksIllustrated.com Membership Website

Mequoda has previously covered the Boston Common Press’s media network in America’s Test Kitchen Media Network Case Study by Jane E. Zarem. The membership website (and print magazine) Cook’s Illustrated is an important part of the business strategy. With 80,000 paid online subscribers, this site’s recipe is worth a try.   Continue

The Primary Requirement for Site Owner is to Understand the Users’ Goals

The primary requirement for a site owner is to understand the site’s overall goal, the important tasks the user expects to complete on the site, and the ease and urgency with which that can be accomplished satisfactorily. Most users are not going to just browse around a site—they want to get in, do what they need to do and get out.   Continue

Five Landing Page Optimization Dos and Don’ts from ThePowerofPositiveHabits.com

Landing Page Optimization Tips from ThePowerofPositiveHabits.com

Perhaps you think self-help gurus such as Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, Tony Robbins and John Gray are a godsend to troubled Americans. Alternatively, you may believe that many motivational speakers and their how-to books and other quick fixes often eradicate personal responsibility and do more harm than good. Either way, there is no denying that the self-help actualization movement represents a huge—$8 billion annually!!— market for information products. One entrant in the self-help actualization movement market niche is The Power of Positive Habits, an eBook by author Dan Robey.   Continue

MarthaStewart.com Stands Out for Integration, but Does Poorly on Some Key Usability Guidelines

Website Design Tips From MarthaStewart.com

You almost can’t have a dinner party without someone making a “Martha Stewart” comment at some point during the evening. Beyond being a mere household name, Martha Stewart has become synonymous with home decorating, cooking and gardening-bringing beauty to all things domestic. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc (MSLO), is an integrated media company distributing the “art of everyday living” to us in many different channels, broken down into business segments:   Continue

Keeping Website Navigation Intuitive, Persistent and Consistent

Persistent navigation is the simple concept of ensuring that the navigation to complete an online activity is the same experience each time that the user returns to the site to pursue that activity. Five years ago this was a real problem, as site navigation changed frequently. As a result, the user was constantly lost or having to figure out how the website worked.

A website is really an interactive piece of software. The navigation facilitates user goals of: 1) easily accessing content, community and commerce and 2) finding any desired feature or information page. The site should be straightforward, relatively simple to use and unchanging—with no surprises or misleading cues, such as design elements that look like links but instead are static graphics.   Continue

Five Landing Page Optimization Tips from Ali K Brown’s Online Success Blueprint Workshop

We are back now with another offer from her highness, Alexandria Brown, “The Ezine Queen.” “The Queen” has brought you into her kingdom earlier by selling you her ezine course. This is good. This is how you get folks into your funnel. NOW, Ali is joining other Internet Marketers and upselling them to a hands-on business marketing seminar.

By the time we got to this landing page, there was a cute Post-It note to inform people that it’s sold out.   Continue

Three Website Design Tips from Knitter’s Review

Knitter’s Review is a six-year-old site run by a small group of enthusiasts. Their story in the About pages tells of publishing veteran Clara Parkes, who left the rat race where she produced large scale websites and escaped to the peace of rural Maine to focus on doing something she loved. She has two compatriots who represent the operational and technical ends of KnittersReview.com (KR), and the support of her friends, family and postmistress, but not much else. In other words, a true hands-on, do-it-yourself success story.   Continue

Increase the User’s Connection to Your Site by Promoting and Building Community

The Mequoda criteria for community building expect visitors to feel enthusiastic and loyal to the site. Are they inspired with feelings of belonging and encouraged to contribute?

Websites that encourage a feeling of belonging among users, that offer mechanisms for being involved in the site and that motivate them to become involved are good at community building.

In the fourth chapter of Website Design for Publishers and Authors authors Don Nicholas and Jane E. Zarem point out some examples of community-building options:   Continue

Five Landing Page Optimization Tips from SaveMyMarriage.com

s there any married person reading this who has not, at one time or another, had a huge fight with his or her spouse? Of course not.

And with half of all marriages ending in divorce, the market for the marriage advice Amy Waterman is selling on her SaveMyMarriage.com landing page is enormous.

In this landing page review, Robert W. Bly looks at whether the copy and graphics Waterman has placed on the landing page are strong enough to get visitors to shell out $29.95 for her eBook, Save My Marriage Today!   Continue

Five Website Design Tips from Reader’s Digest

Reader’s Digest is so well known and widely read that almost everybody has picked up a copy at some point in their lives. Founded in 1922, the family friendly, feel-good favorite is also the flagship of a billion dollar public company. The Reader’s Digest is the largest-selling magazine in the world, and the company uses their circulation power to sell a plethora of books, magazines, games and children’s titles, and recently music video and audio books.   Continue

Capturing Visitors’ Email Addresses is Key to Building Effective Relationships

Website success depends largely on providing an incentive-i.e., a free email newsletter-to encourage visitor registration and an email address. Acquiring those email addresses is the first step toward creating lasting relationships with site visitors. If a website does not attempt to capture the visitor’s email address, the individual may never revisit and the relationship is lost.   Continue

Five Landing Page Optimization Tips from Perry Marshall’s AdWords Landing Page

Perry Marshall is something of a Renaissance man—engineer, advertising copywriter, technical writer, marketer and philosopher.

Among Internet marketers, he has ascended to the rank of high priest of Google AdWords. As one of the world’s leading specialists on buying search engine traffic, he has published a very popular how-to book, conducted high-ticket seminars and is a much-sought-after personal coach.

Prior to his consulting career, he helped grow a Chicago tech company from $200,000 to $4 million in sales in four years, then sell it to a public company for $18 million.   Continue

Five Website Design Tips from The Hub for Internal Communicators

The Hub for Internal Communicators is a membership website with research, information and tools for communication professionals. The product and the audience are identified in the tagline: The most comprehensive resource available for employee communication professionals.

Produced by Melcrum, an information and research company with offices in the UK, North America and Australia, The Hub for Internal Communicators (The Hub) has been online as a UK site since 2005 and launched a North American version shortly after.   Continue

Maintaining Interest by Webifying Website Content

Publishing on the Internet is different from publishing a book, magazine or newspaper. And it’s different from presenting content/products on TV, at a live event or in a brick-and-mortar store. The Web is a unique medium that, unlike a printed page, TV show or live situation, puts no constraint on content length in order to be cost-effective. Rather, websites have infinite space available for the user to access additional information or to drill down to increasingly more detailed information.   Continue

Three Landing Page Optimization Tips and a Lesson in Advertising Copywriting from The Blaylock Wellness Report Landing Page

With the demand for information about illness and health, it’s not surprising that many physicians and traditional publishers have teamed up to begin online newsletters that address these issues. Many of these publications are highly specialized and focus on a single topic or ailment.

Others take a shotgun approach and attempt to address the public’s infolust across a wide spectrum of disease prevention, physical ailments and medical remedies. The wider editorial focus that targets a greater number of potential subscribers at a relatively lower price point has a different revenue model from the smaller niche, higher price newsletter. And it creates a special problem for the newsletter marketer and copywriter.   Continue

Five Website Design Tips from WoodcraftMagazine.com

Woodcraft Supply Corp. is a leading seller of woodworking tools. The company has been around for 75 years and sells via retail, online and in over three million catalogues globally. Expanding the woodcrafting empire, the company publishes a magazine, licenses franchises, offers classes with certified continuing education credits and acts as a trade organization for woodworking teachers. Running all of these businesses through a single website would be a recipe for disaster, and Woodcraft has rightly chosen to create a branded network of sites to fulfill the diverse business goals. This review details the website design of the magazine site, WoodcraftMagazine.com.   Continue

Website Design Guideline #14: Promoting and Supporting Brand Preference and Awareness

Usability and design are two key factors in publishing great websites. You may have a clear strategy and great content, but if your site is unusable and unattractive, it will be difficult for users to find what they’re looking for, difficult for you to get users to do what you want them to do and difficult to get users to become loyal customers and revisit again and again.

Creating user-friendly websites begins by following the 14 Mequoda Website Design Guidelines for successful website design. By reviewing a site’s score for each of the 14 items, along with the overall average score, the areas of the site that operate well, and those that need work, become evident.   Continue

Improving the User Experience with Clear Strategic Intent

When a first-time user lands on your homepage—or any webpage, for that matter—it should be immediately obvious to that user, by simply scanning the screen, what can be accomplished, seen or found on that site and/or that page. Clearly and prominently focus on the action(s) that you want them to take and that they expect to take: Browse? Buy? Subscribe? Sign up? Join? Sell? The content and graphics should be well-presented and prioritized in order to guide the user’s eye to the desired action(s). A jumble of images will cause the eye to jump around and the user will become confused.   Continue

Five Landing Page Optimization Tips from an Ezine Queen Landing Page Review

In business it’s location, location, location. And of course online, it’s your list, list, list. Back when there was no Internet, the only way to communicate with your prospects or loyal customers was to contact them through mail, fax or phone.

Today, anyone with an online presence that has an in-demand product or service can set up an ezine list of thirsty customers. Another way to grab market share is to grow rich within your niche.

And that’s what the very telegenic “Ezine Queen,” Alexandria K. Brown, has done. The beauty of the ezine is that it’s probably one of the most cost-effective marketing tools ever created. Just think: with the click of your mouse you can contact your customer in nano seconds with valuable information or a viable offer. And because they have opted in, you know you have an interested party as a subscriber.   Continue

Five Website Design Tips from WineEnthusiast.com

WineEnthusiast.com is an online catalog that offers a comprehensive selection of all things wine related. The only thing the site doesn’t offer is wine. But that’s just fine, as the publishers of this site depend on a motivated visitor who is enthusiastic enough about wine to want the very best in wine accessories.

This site is not for the wine novice. It’s for visitors who know, appreciate and spend a fair amount of money on wine and wine-related products. This site speaks to the need to enhance and protect the investment visitors to this site have made in their wine collections. This is the destination for visitors who have read all the magazines and have had numerous discussions with their Wine Enthusiast friends, and are ready to buy those products that will make their wine collections complete.   Continue

The Incredible Website Usability of Craigslist.org is a Key Component in the Success of This Community Phenomenon

There is no mistaking the current success of Craigslist with their extremely basic website design.

Craigslist (CL) was a simple community classified site started in 1995 by Craig Newmark. The originally-non-profit site was incorporated in 1999. There are 190 versions of the website—localized by city—throughout the world, featuring free classified advertisements (jobs, housing, for sale, services, personals, gigs and community) and forums.   Continue

A Landing Page Template to Model if Your Goal is to Build Your List and Overwhelm Your Prospects with Great Offers

Even before the Internet took over our lives, there were marketers who made a great living offline promoting their products and consulting services.

One man, speaker/copywriter/consultant Dan Kennedy, was someone who took this “old school” knowledge and parlayed it into a strong cyberspace presence. The copywriters on my team have studied Dan Kennedy’s work and he has greatly influenced a plethora of online marketers as well as many brick-and-mortar businesses who have produced a strong ROI for themselves. Dan has said on a few occasions that he’s not a fan of the Internet, and I believe has said he knows nothing about computers. BUT I am pretty sure the folks on Team Kennedy do. And they do an excellent job for him.   Continue

Seven Rules About Writing for a Membership Website

Brevity is the soul of wit, according to the Bard. And all the more so online. So of course, someone created rules for you to follow when writing for the Web. OK, so maybe they are more like guidelines than hard and fast laws of cyber language. That said, here is what you want to strive for in most of your content.

Try to follow these seven guidelines when writing for the Web.   Continue

Introduction to Website Design for Publishers and Authors

Usability and design are two key factors in publishing great websites. You may have a clear strategy and great content, but if your site is unusable and unattractive, it will be difficult for users to find what they’re looking for, difficult for you to get users to do what you want them to do and difficult to get users to become loyal customers and revisit again and again.   Continue

Top 10 Reasons Why Visitors Resist Subscribing to Your Membership Website

First impressions really do count, especially online. If the look of your site doesn’t immediately gain the respect of visitors, you are in trouble.

Studies have shown that visitors decide within the first 10 seconds whether they will investigate further or move on. That’s how long it takes to run the look of your site through their mental filters and determine whether you are worth their time.

The quickest way to lose visitors: design your site to look like an amateur did it.   Continue

A Landing Page for the Opportunity-Seekers Market Doesn’t Demonstrate Much Copywriting Expertise

The fundamental mistake made by many entrepreneurs is the classic chicken-and-egg scenario in which the inventor first creates a new product and then seeks a market for it.

Experienced product developers do the opposite. They anticipate the changes in society. They assess the evolving problems, requirements and desires of consumers, and look for opportunities that have not yet been addressed by the market. Then they forecast demand and create new products that fill the gap.   Continue

A Website Design Example of What Not to Do

Media experts tell us that the average consumer is bombarded with hundreds of advertising impressions every day. That’s a lot of competition for our attention. As a result, most of us have developed an anti-advertising defense. We tune out when we sense someone is trying to sell us something. Even when we’re actively searching online for a product or service to solve a problem or soothe a pain, we are cautious and skeptical.   Continue

Five Tips for Improving Your Landing Page Order Mechanism

Posting a landing page with a confusing or inadequate order mechanism is like opening a new Wal-Mart, but forgetting to install cash registers. What’s the point?

In direct mail advertising, one of the two most important elements of the package is the order form (the other being the outer envelope). If you get everything else right and blow the order mechanism, your sales letter landing page will almost certainly fail.   Continue

My 12 Most Important Beliefs About Marketing

These pithy statements about the psychology of buying and selling did not originate with me. Most were gleaned over the years from my various teachers—from their books, seminars and audiotapes.

I owe a debt to many, and at this juncture, it’s almost impossible to know accurately which of these “truths” to attribute to whom.

Among the many “influencers” are Michael Gerber, Bill Myers, Dan Kennedy, Gary Halbert, John LaValle, Fred Gleeck, Jay Abraham and others. In some cases I have had to separate the style and personality of the man from the sagacity of the message; wisdom can come from many places, and even a broken clock is right twice a day.   Continue

Four Website Design Tips from TMZ.com

On December 8, 2005, AOL’s expected press release announcing the launch of the new entertainment site, TMZ.com, hit the buzz-makers.

The commentary? Only that AOL needed a massive influx of traffic, and that even in the crowded online entertainment space the subsidiary of Time Warner should be able to put up enough interesting new tidbits to draw in the ever-celeb-hungry masses.

TMZ.com, which stands for the “Thirty Mile Zone” around Hollywood (apparently in people know these sorts of things), claims to be a “new, first-of-its-kind 24/7 on-demand entertainment news network.” The interesting word choices here are “on-demand” and “network.” TMZ.com does lives up to these claims, if falling a bit short on others.   Continue

Make Sure Your Landing Page Bears More Fruit Than GardeningSecretsandTips.com

With gardening season upon us, it seemed like a good idea to have John Clausen do a landing page review of GardeningSecretsandTips.com.

John points out that there are few hobbies or avocations that rival gardening when it comes to the need for secret methods and helpful tips. And there are few activities that attract more avid practitioners.

So, with that in mind, he took a long, Mequoda Landing Page Scorecard look at GardeningSecretsandTips.com and what he found was a few mistakes you should avoid when writing and designing your landing page.   Continue

Four Tips for Designing Aesthetically Pleasing Landing Pages

How can you decide on the right design for your landing page?

Beauty is relative, cultural, genetic and ever-changing. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and aesthetic judgments are subjective.

The answer is to know your target market and create an appearance that conforms to your visitors’ expectations. We call it the “user’s mental model.”   Continue

Three Website Design Tips from WritersMarket.com

In a recent website design review for the Mequoda Library Mequoda Editor-at-Large Peter A. Schaible takes a look at WritersMarket.com.

WritersMarket.com is a pay-for-access, online database for freelance writers that cross-sells print publications and other products owned by its publisher.

Peter notes that online databases sold by subscription are big business for LexisNexis, R.R. Bowker, Thomson and other traditional publishers of directories.   Continue

Three Landing Page Optimization Tips from the Motley Fool’s Stock Advisor Landing Page

n our Motley Fool Media Network Case Study, we chronicled the company’s admirable history from its humble beginnings as an America Online discussion forum in 1994. And we cited the Gardner brothers’ remarkable business model change in 2001 after the dot-com bust, which enabled the publishing company to rise like a phoenix to do $23 million in gross revenues in 2005.

Our Motley Fool Website Design Review gave them high marks in nearly every category, and we have mentioned the Motley Fool’s exemplary online business practices in numerous Mequoda books, articles and seminars.   Continue

Website Design Guideline #13: Designing Aesthetically Pleasing Websites

Usability and design are two key factors in publishing great websites. You may have a clear strategy and great content, but if your site is unusable and unattractive, it will be difficult for users to find what they’re looking for, difficult for you to get users to do what you want them to do and difficult to get users to become loyal customers and revisit again and again.   Continue

Three Integrated Media Strategy Lessons from Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports revenues top $190M in 2005 by pursuing a simple integrated media strategy driven by three simple concepts and the world’s largest membership website.John Sateja is a happy guy. The man in charge of information products for what may be the most trusted media brand in America is on a roll.   Continue

Twelve Ideas for An Effective Affiliate Marketing Program

The idea behind affiliate marketing is simple.

The concept is basic “pay for performance.” You recruit other Internet marketers to help you sell your website’s products or services in return for a portion of the gross.

When an affiliate enrolls in your program, you give her an affiliate identification (name or number) that she uses in the links and banners for your site that appear on her website. When visitors to her site click through to your site and make a purchase or join, you pay her a commission for bringing you the new member.   Continue

Analyze Successful Subscription Websites for Clues on Designing and Marketing Your Own

Here’s a shortcut to membership website success: find online businesses that are working for other people and model them. Study what they are doing correctly and do likewise. To help build and maintain your own successful site, make a habit of analyzing other sites for form, function and design.   Continue

Website Design Tips and a Lesson in Online Publishing from DailyCandy.com

Sharply focused on a niche market of hip, young, women shoppers who reside in major cities, Daily Candy proves that publishers can make money selling online advertising.

In a recent website design review of DailyCandy.com, Mequoda Editor-at-Large Peter A. Schaible outlines the site’s business model and shares a few website design tips and suggestions he pulled from reviewing the site.   Continue

Avoid the Landing Page Optimization Mistakes Made by the South Beach Diet Newsletter

In a recent landing page review in the Mequoda Daily, John Clausen asks: is there any subject more mulled over and carefully considered than our health and appearance? If you can do something to make the population more slender and likely to live longer, you should be able to make a fortune—shouldn’t you?   Continue

Four Tips for Using Fresh Content and Urgency to Increase Landing Page Conversion Rates

Few things destroy the credibility of a landing page sales letter more quickly and effectively than content that’s out of date.

How can you expect the prospect to take your message seriously if you’re not even interested enough in the content to keep it current?

It’s also important to remember that some of your potential customers may only visit your landing page once. If they don’t buy immediately, they may never return.   Continue

Choosing the Right Colors for Your Subscription Websites

Why do all the top websites seem to use the same four colors?

There is a really good reason—one that can affect your membership website success if you don’t follow their lead. If you take a close look at the most visited sites on the Internet, you’ll see an interesting phenomenon. Almost all use the same basic color scheme with slight variations.

You might think that this is just a coincidence, or that perhaps their designers all graduated from the same graphics arts school. But the truth is, these sites all use the same color scheme because they’ve found which colors work best on the Internet for attracting visitors and keeping people interested.   Continue

Six Website Design Tips from VanityFair.com

VanityFair.com caught our attention because of a comment by Jason Oliver Nixon on Women’s Wear Daily that VanityFair.com got 1,000 new print subscribers on the first day that the site posted the magazine’s cover. We immediately asked Terri Edmonston to do a website design review of VanityFair.com to ascertain what they were doing so well (or not so well). We were determined to gather some website design tips from these folks.

The most pressing question Terri had was about the strategy of the site. Is it a true content site or just marketing print subscriptions?   Continue

Personalize Your Landing Page and Increase Landing Page Conversion Rates

For decades, direct marketers have been using personalization to increase direct mail response rates. When you send out a laser-printed sales letter with the prospect’s name in it, you gain his or her attention.

In a recent Mequoda Daily landing page review, expert copywriter and contributing editor Bob Bly points out that personalization works equally well online, yet your name doesn’t appear within the copy of most of the landing pages you click on. Glen Hopkins wants to change all that with Page Personalizer.   Continue

Five Tips for Improving Landing Page Readability

f a landing page is comfortable and easy to read, your prospects are more likely to keep reading and respond to your sales message. Much of this is the responsibility of the copywriter, whose job it is to keep the message flowing in interesting and easily assimilated (bite-sized) chunks, but there are other factors that contribute to making a website comfortable and easy to read—notably, the choice of typeface.   Continue

Three Website Design Tips From Investors.com

Terri Edmonston, a Mequoda Daily contributing editor, recently did a website design review of Investors.com, the online edition of Investor’s Business Daily. Terri pointed out numerous website design tips we can all learn from. First we’ll provide a little background on the website, then we’ll list three website design tips Terri offers in her review.   Continue

Four Landing Page Optimization Lessons to be Learned from the Legacy of Corey Rudl

It wasn’t long ago that Mequoda Daily contributing editor and copywriter John Clausen reviewed the landing page for the Internet Marketing Center, a very long and very well done sales letter developed by late Internet marketing guru Corey Rudl. When John had heard of Rudl’s tragic death in an automobile racing accident, he figured he’d probably seen the last of Internet Marketing Center and their landing page optimization efforts.   Continue

Five Tips for Writing Landing Page Copy that Increases Conversion Rates

Writing effective landing page copy that increases conversion rates is a technique every Internet marketer aims to master. We understand that there are hundreds of variations available and that the only way to truly discover what works is to test, test, test. But we must remember that there are a few solid copy principles that hold true regardless of product type or marketing medium.   Continue