Every year our Niche Digital Conference attendees share their most successful digital revenue ideas. Here’s a collection of 70 of their best ideas just for you!
1. Exclusive advertisers: Allow one advertiser on a certain day of the month to occupy all the ad spots on each page of your entire website.
2.Create an archive of back issue digital editions that is fully searchable. Make it available – for a fee – to existing and new subscribers.
3. Create a LinkedIN group for your niche. Even if one exists, you might be able to make one that is better.
4. Offer to do video interviews/demos for sponsors & advertisers as part of a digital bundle. As an up sell, make it available on your site, on their site, and on DVD (for offline mailing).
5. Provide an RSS feed of news to advertisers with static websites. Most advertisers have dead, static sites and your content can liven them up and help them look more relevant. Use Feedburner to help.
6. When building an incentive plan for your sales team that provides a bonus for selling online, use total number of units sold rather than ad dollars to increase volume and keep the numbers simple and easy to track.
7. Use Tweets as a part of an ad package. “If you buy from us we can Tweet a link to your web site or to your ad to our users” This is a HUGE benefit – do not give it away for free!
8. Our best response from email campaigns are personalized html text. Intersperse graphics intensive efforts with “plain” text. Try it, you’ll like the response rates you see.
9. Charge advertisers to run surveys against your audience. Make sure that the survey is attached to a solid offer to get respondents. When the budget is tight, often advertisers have research money allocated. In addition, you can use this data to boost your sales data.
10. Evaluate new social media and get on board with ones that work for you: Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. Then make a plan!
11. Create a unique incentive plan for your sales team that provides a bonus for selling online. Your margins are better in web, so pay a better commission. Or, structure a better plan for banners sold. Out of cash? Give days off or free lunch. Get creative.
12. Create special holiday or seasonal digital editions. From holiday gift guides to summer camp guides, take ideas and turn them into digital-only special publications. Be sure to tell advertisers how you are going to tell the public about the special digital edition.
13. Register the .tv and .mobi for your main domain. Expand your offerings!
14. Create an e-newsletter from your sales team to your current advertisers. Create a list of your current clients and start sending out an e-newsletter. This should contain helpful hints, links to great articles, and deadline information. You can find great information about this on marketingsherpa.com, adage.com, techcrunch.com and ryandohrn.com.
15. Use short videos to answer advertisers’ common questions. Is there a question that you are often asked by advertisers? Record an answer and create an answer archive. Keep it simple. Jing is a great tool for this type of sales tool.
16. Spread out your content! Don’t publish all of your magazine’s content online at the beginning of the month. Use the date stamping tools of your content management system to load your content all at one, but publish it piece by piece over a period of time.
17. Segment digital content by audience. One extended education or training piece can be broken down into different segments based on the audience. With one 60-minute lecture, you can sell an e-book, DVD, 12 “5 minute tips,” etc.
18. Stop giving digital away! Just stop it!
19. Create e-books from magazine content. You have years of content, so put it to good use. Create e-books around a specific topic.
20. Use a daily video tip to drive B2B sales. Advertisers like the exposure, and they are also your best experts. Have them pay to be the expert in a section on your site and record their answers to submitted questions.
21. Create an interactive media kit. A PDF just isn’t enough. Advertisers require more stimuli than ever before to make a decision. Also, they want information NOW! http://mediakit.fastcompany.com is a great example of an online media kit.
22. Monitor your SEO ranking and search volume monthly for key search terms. Each month you want a report that shows you where your site ranks for all the key terms that you have researched as important. Also, you want to re-run your key word research often. Raven is a good tool for this.
23. Create a social media interaction plan. Each day a member of your team should be assigned to monitor and reply to social media comments. Assign days and make it mandatory.
24. Create a simple website sign-in with Facebook Connect. Make it as easy as possible for users to sign in to your web site. This is critical if you want to survey behavior or demo targeted advertising.
24. Place each email you collect on multiple e-mail lists. This allows you to send topically based messages. If a user unsubscribes you will not lose them completely. Instead you’ll just lose them from one list. Be sure to tell/ask users about this practice.
25. Engage your audience and create community by forming self-serve classified portals on the web. You can start free and offer paid up-sells.
26. Create an e-newsletter from your sales team to your current advertisers with content that that positions you as a leader in the marketplace. Fill it with industry news, local news, upcoming issues, current hot topics, and your social media offerings. (Not just ad deadlines!)
27. Use custom Facebook tabs to offer new product launches for your advertisers. Tabs can be simple HTML creations with embedded pictures, white papers, or videos. Keep the run short: 7-10 days.
28. Develop a pricing matrix for digital ad opportunities based on the total spend with your publication to encourage a larger spend.
29. Upgrade your banner ad delivery system if you can’t give your advertisers solid stats and inventory reports. Use these stats, good or bad, to create conversations with your advertisers.
30. Sell videos on your site to current advertisers. Contract with a videographer or buy a camcorder and go to town. Making the video is also a great way to build your advertiser relationships and boost revenue at the same time.
31. Use Google alerts to keep up with news in your industry and your advertisers’ industries.
32. Make a photo CD particular to your industry from back issues (royalty-free, unlimited use). Sell the photo CD in your e-newsletter.
33. Add a product pavilion (an interactive directory) to your website for new products and services. Easy navigation & a simple look is key. Create a competitive environment by placing marquee ads in the pavilion and then use that to sell to their competitors.
34. Create category-specific custom editorial content, such as sponsored monthly articles about an advertiser’s area of expertise: health & fitness, automotive, sports & recreation, financial security, travel, etc.
35. Package print and web together in ad programs to create special sections aimed at niche markets within your niche market. For instance, a resort destination magazine might create a package for marketing property management companies.
36. Set a goal to create at least three e-newsletter lists that are specific to your niche. Monthly specific pushes need to be very specific and very driven. Advertisers can provide and pay for content inclusion. This is not another editorial e-newsletter. New product updates, new services updates, legal updates: you name, create it.
37. Compilations! Compile related archived content into a sponsored and/or paid eBook.
38. Sell 4-hour static banner ads on your web site. Isolate several ad units on your web site and offer them to a single advertiser for a specific period of time during the day. For example, a city and regional magazine might sell a static ad to a local café for 11am to 1pm.
39. Create a path of least resistance. If you sell a complicated product with many options, select one for your audience and create a landing page (with a clear call to action) specific to that audience. They can always customize later, but giving them an “easy button” starts the conversation.
40. Double up: Sell sponsorship of your digital edition and also the email blast releasing the digital edition to your subscribers.
41. Create co-op programs if they do not exist in your niche. Go to the manufacturer and create the program for them, then go to the distributors and sell them on the program. This is a win/win.
42. Create an online monthly promotional calendar and sell your advertisers into it. Give away their products in all promotions and create a winning situation for your advertisers. Plus, it saves you money because you do not have to buy prizes. Without a promo calendar your sales team will not be able to sell ahead.
43. Boost digital magazine readership with a special 3D edition. Send out 3D glasses with a special URL to the issue. (You can even get the glasses paid for by an exclusive sponsor.)
44. Attend trade shows with a small, but nice, video camera and interview your advertisers. Take these behind the scenes videos and use them as content on your web site. Only do this for serious advertisers or clients you are trying to get to advertise.
45. Social media MUST be a part of your new ad packages or you will miss out. Price it in such a way that you show massive value at a great price. Most sales people fail to show value in their ad packages. What is your total value offering?
46. Podcasts: Arm your editorial staff with audio recorders. Every interview can also be a $.99 iTunes download.
47. Collect emails from a giveaway and do not give to the advertiser. Instead, email on the advertiser’s behalf and drive people to their fan page or back to yours to find out the winner. DO NOT email the winner’s name out. If you do, why will people come back to the site?
48. Do not become guilty of paralysis by analysis – DO IT! The beauty of the web is trial and error. Give it a shot. If it does not work, shut it down. IF you think about your web strategy for too long, then you will always find a reason not to move forward.
49. Produce and qualify sales leads by collecting detailed opt-in data from users who download and read your white papers, presentations, articles, product literature, or related content.
50. Assign a sales person to call people that send in press releases to your editorial team. If they have a limited budget and are just looking for press, sell them into one of your many e-newsletters.
51. Sell links! WV Living Magazine’s MyWVWedding.com – a designated wedding website – sells hyperlinks on their Wedding Checklist. So when they say “Book Your Photographer”, when someone scrolls over it a photographer’s website appears.
52. Create bottom ad units on your web site to increase ad impressions. Do not assume that since and ad is at the bottom of your web site that no one sees it. If you have content on the page, have an ad near it. Do not sell these units as a separate buy. Instead, run top ad buyers in the bottom slots too as a bonus and boost their total reach.
53. Use Facebook text ads to draw in fans. Be careful to write them well and be specific. These ads are cheap and can bring in a ton of fans fast. Make your offerings very clear. Be sure to isolate the ads to only what you “truly” offer. Be specific. Grow your fan base so that you can grow the amount you charge for reaching out to this fan base.
54. Take 300×250 banner ads and cut them in half. Sell more space and increase frequency for your advertisers. DO not create a blinking mess of a web site, but increase your inventory by having more ads units available.
55. Change up the format of your promotional emails. Many companies have the exact same format for everything.
56. Ask advertisers if they have promo videos for their product or service. Then, create a channel to house and offer these videos to your audience. Most advertisers have spent a ton of money on these videos and want to use them.
57. Use a giveaway to promote a new product and expand your social media reach at the same time. One attendee launched a digital magazine (free) that was sponsored by advertising dollars and a supplement to our subscription-based site. To generate interest and views, they had a sweepstakes to give away an iPad and free subscriptions to those that shared on Facebook, Twitter, their blog, or subscribed to our newsletter.
They had 80% growth in their Twitter followers, 25 blog mentions/posts, and 80% higher newsletter signups during the 1-month time frame of the sweepstakes!
58. Your list is the most important part a success email campaign! Make sure you the right named contacts; continually update bad addresses; and always be prospect for new names.
59. Create comparison sheets for your sales team. If you are the market leader you need to prove it when on a sales call. Do not assume that your advertisers understands or cares about your competition. Show them in black and white why you are bigger, badder and better.
60. Drop the 160×600 sky scraper ad units and replace with shorter sizes. Skyscrapers are a bit old school and they take up too much space.
61. When redesigning your web site, make the advertising spots a serious priority. Make sure that the sizing is right, the placement is right, and that you set up your advertisers for maximum ROI.
62. Use a phone tracking system to help your clients track calls from your magazine. Call tracking services are cheap and being able to prove that people called from your ad in your magazine will help with renewals.
63. Hold monthly “lunch and learns” for your clients. Use a good old fashioned phone conference call system and set these meetings up in advance. Invite one speaker to talk about a topic that is important to your advertisers. Focus on digital issues and help educate your advertisers. Become a resource!
64. Use Youtube to draw a crowd. There are many video serving options, but Youtube can help you with free distribution and SEO. You can often work around the Google ads on the videos by looking closely at your descriptions. Google ads on the videos are driven via the title and descriptions you provide.
65. Often advertisers are THE experts in the industry. Ask them to create content. You often can charge for this type of exposure. Make sure that they know to soft sell or they will lose their impact.
66. Encourage advertisers to use custom URLs to track success. If you look close at Google analytics, you will see a traffic statistic called direct traffic. This can account for as much as 20% of total traffic and most advertisers do not track their direct traffic. Make sure you get credit for traffic that you drive to an advertiser’s website.
67. Balance editorial calendar against SEO research. Use key word research tools to determine what web users are “really” searching for… then write content about those topics.
68. Grow revenue by selling leaderboards as a package. Bundle newsletters, websites, digital editions, and mobile apps for a premium price.
69. Fill out your own contact and subscription forms to make sure they are user-friendly and collect useful data.
70. Get creative with your digital editions! Brainstorm extras to add value, like a hobby or home magazine that has a do-it-youself project linked to a parts list and extra step-by-step photos (or even a link to an auto-filled shopping cart through a sponsoring store).
Have an awesome digital revenue idea that we missed? Or have you been really successful using some of the techniques above? We’d love to hear about it in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Niche Digital Conference will take place in Chicago, September 24-25, 2012.