Publishers Using the Mequoda Method
What you’ll learn:
Discover three publishers who are using the Mequoda Method to increase their audience, email capture rates, engagement and revenues.
- Don Nicholas, Founder, Chairman & CEO
- Kim Mateus, EVP & Client Success Group Leader
- Bill Dugan, SVP & Client Success Group Leader
Time: 11 minutes, 3 seconds
The bulk of the clients that we’ve worked with over the years have been publishers, magazine publishers, newsletter publishers, what often now would be a subscription website publisher. Business models vary in that you see commerce, meaning subscription sales, book sales, event sales. You also see a lot of our clients using advertising as a sponsorship vehicle which could be display programs, native programs, classified, directory. At the end of the day, it’s really the new specialized publishing.
The Mequoda Method, with its four pillars, is supported at Mequoda with a custom software platform called Haven. And the Haven System is used as a tool for deploying all of the tactics that help optimize each of the four pillars.
One of my clients that’s having some good success is “Yankee Magazine” based here in New England. So, we started working with them couple of years ago. Started off with a business plan and then, built their system. And so, their website is newengland.com. And what they’ve been able to do since moving from yankeemag.com to newengland.com, is really put a differentiator between the stuff that is free versus the stuff that is paid. So the newengland.com brand, that’s the free side of it, that’s the affinity side, that’s where they give away their content to build the audience and then they monetize through subscriptions to “Yankee Magazine” and through sponsorships. And both of those categories are up for them. So, what do they do well?
Well, they were already pretty well-versed in SEO before we came into the picture. They already had digital editors there that were optimizing their content. So, they didn’t necessarily have this massive learning curve there, which I think is helpful. And in 2015, ’16, ’17, we’re experiencing more and more publishers that already are familiar with SEO and doing it to some capacity. So, they already had the right sort of stuff in place there to execute on ACEM. And now, with this ability to have a brand that is free and then a brand that is premium, I think they’ve been more easily able to sell their customers, if you will, on why they should spend money to subscribe to “Yankee Magazine.” They put 10 years of archives onto the web and so when you’re subscribing to the magazine, not only are you getting the print issues, you’re also getting access to the archives. So, that’s been successful for them. And, another area where they’re seeing very significant growth is on the sponsorship side.
Before they were on the Mequoda System, they were basically selling a lot of email inventory but mostly just straight up ads. So, their advertisers would just pay to put an ad into the newsletter and off it would go. But now that they have the “New England Today” newsletter, which is what we call a six on six stack, they’re publishing six pieces of content every day that are editorial and then in between that, they are able to sell that space, either a display ad or a text ad, and as we all sort of now know, display ads don’t work, they don’t get clicked on. So Yankee’s had to really retrain their whole ad sales department and advertisers to the idea that these text ads are better. They work better for you. You’re gonna get more clicks. The only thing an advertiser cares about is clicks back to their website.
Well, through their “New England Today” newsletter which is now sold out, for the most part, they were able to sort of tempt the advertisers with this new format that is text oriented, and whenever an advertiser was unsure about it, Yankee would just give away the inventory. They originally said, “Hey, you know what, let’s just try it out and see what happens.” And then, sure enough, the advertisers were seeing increased clicks back to their website and so they launched into this whole program where the most successful thing they’re selling is what they call a Takeover. So now an advertiser can be the exclusive sponsor on an individual newsletter, so they’re getting all the third-party ads in that newsletter, there’s no other sponsors in there. And when you go for that approach, the amount of clicks that the advertiser gets back to their website is four times that of when they just buy a single display ad or single text ad. And, I think that’s why they’ve had a lot of successes. Because they were able to recognize the system as this machine that allows for some creativity, you know? And they’ve got the right people on board, they’ve got the right mentality that they know that you can’t just ever sit back and rest on your laurels. They’re constantly testing ways to improve their capture rates and improve the amounts of subscriptions that they sell, and again the advertising sponsorship piece has been a big boost that I don’t think they necessarily expected initially. So it’s been a very happy surprise for them.
One of our clients, Investing News Network which is a Canadian-based investment advising site, has vastly grown their business by using our Haven Lead Manager to build up an enormous file of leads to advertise our sponsors that promote their own advisory services. And Investing News Network, when they first started working with Mequoda was a conglomeration of dozens of independent standalone websites that were merged together into one Haven System that Mequoda helped build which optimizes all of the audience and all of the content into one huge lead generation machine.
So, the question of the favorite publisher, it’s like asking a parent about his favorite child. You know, you love them all, you’re proud of them all. I think the one that just pops to my head though, and it’s probably in part because the relationship is one that we’ve had for a very long time. So the, you know, your oldest children, right, because you’ve been with them the longest. The folks at the Dark Intelligence Group fall into that category. They had a phenomenal print newsletter advisory business that was very well thought through based on the quality of the content, their direct marketing techniques for a company that was launched in the ’80s or the ’90s. I mean, they really were a state-of-the-art small specialized subscription marketer, you know, serving an incredibly clear-cut niche which would be clinical pathologists of which in the United States there are about 35,000. So, they know who their audience is by the businesses they work at and the positions they’re in at those companies. And in the old days, they mailed mail. They mailed direct mail to acquire new subscribers and to get event attendees. And when I first met Robert Michel, those were the two businesses he had. He had the one subscription product that was a print product and he had one of relatively small annual conference.
Over the 10 years, we’ve been able to help them grow the conference business dramatically by creating a Mequoda Portal, that allows him to reach in any given month about a third of the marketplace on a regular basis and probably another 20% or 30% of it on an irregular basis. They’re very good at differentiating the content that they’re willing to give away on the portal from the kind of content that they’re going to sell with the premium service. Robert’s a very clear thinker, knows his industry cold and he’s what my other friend, David Zinczenko, would call a commercially minded editor. Robert Michel is not embarrassed about making money. He’s proud of his financial metrics as a sign of his success overall as a publisher. So he’s a joy to work with from that standpoint and he’s incredibly open-minded. He shows up at events, he writes down ideas and we’ve gone from a business that had two principal revenue streams some 10, 12 years ago now, to 1 that has 5. So it’s much more diverse.
Probably the most remarkable thing that Robert has done is two of the revenue streams, the webinars and the white papers are ad-driven. So, you often find that a publisher who knows how to take money from the consumer, from the end-user, that that’s all they’re ever gonna be good at, and conversely you often find that a publisher who’s good at taking money from the sponsors and providing value there, well that’s all they’re gonna be good at. In Robert’s case, he now has a business where he is able to get his revenue from multiple sources, so instead of just going back to the end-user for more and more revenue by giving them more products, he’s actually with the webinars and the white papers, developed revenue streams that are completely different sources, right? They’re coming from the sponsors that are in the pharmaceutical support device and service business around this. And interestingly enough Robert’s journalism is very hard-hitting. It’s won any number of awards and very much investigative in nature. So to maintain that kind of a balance where he has an investigative journalism product that’s top of his field, to have conferences that are informational both in terms of standard learnings but changes in business processes, maybe content that’s a bit more evergreen and then to have these webcasts and white papers that are taking sponsor revenue from time to time from somebody that he may have criticized in the dark report is pretty remarkable.
He’s also doing this with a very small organization. He’s been very smart about outsourcing. He’s got three different agencies that he uses, including the Mequoda, to outsource the various parts of his business. Two, so that he follows the old Maccabi philosophy of, “If my team can’t add value, if we can’t do this better, much better than outsourcing it, then we’re gonna stick with the things that we do best: investigative journalism, informational programming, educational programming, etc., and then we’re gonna partner with other companies that have the core expertise around running event programs, running email marketing programs, building and maintaining websites so that he really creates a tiny best-of-breed organization that’s very well-run and very profitable.