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My 'Finance' Balance Sheet: Wrapping it Up [Part #4]

[Note: If you're not sure what this is, see part #1, part #2 and part #3 of this series to get the background info]

OK, it's time to finish the article series on my experiences at the business daily Finance and close this chapter of my life.

Before I go on with what I consider my failiures at Finance let's take a short look at the business concept, developed a few years ago by Crt, behind the internet presence..

35% of the daily editorial content, including various business tools (Stock Watch, etc.), is reserved for registered users (free e-mail subscription).

A smaller portion (5%), top daily news, is reserved for print subscribers or available for single article purchases.

60% of new articles daily (short news, press releases, commentary, ?) are available to ordinary visitors.

All articles older than 30 days are available only to print subscribers or for individual purchase.

This concept is especially geared towards a long-term conversion of ordinary visitors to print subscribers.

The first tactical goal of the web site is to convert an ordinary visitor in to a registered user, which also allows the company to start communicating with that user using e-mail. This is achieved by restricting access to the most important tools and content.

After the user becomes better involved with the web site and reaches a certain level of attachement, the goal is to convert him in to a paying subscriber. Currently approximately 33% of the Finance's print subscription sales are generated through the web site.

Content is mostly delivered through the web site and additionaly through the daily e-mail publication Business Morning and the customizable e-mail notification service Radar, which lets subscribers choose exactly what topics (by keyword, by topic and/or by author) they want to receive and exactly when and how often.

All of the above combined basically makes a full demonstration of the business daily, intended to slowly convert users in to paid subscribers. The internet edition with its interactive features naturally offers added value to all of this, making the package even more attractive.

In addition, the is also a strong sales channel for business seminars (app. 40-70% of all attendance fees are sold through the web site) and special publications, such as the Moje Finance (My Finances) magazine.

When looking back at all of this I feel proud I was an important part of the development process.

In 2001 Crt started developing all of this and turned it in to a really exceptional internet project by any standard. I came in 2003 and turned the project in to a profitable marketing machine.

But while there were many successes, there are also things I could have done much better.

1. Halted Development

When I came on-board the #1 goal was to make the web site profitable. While we achieved that with flying colors, the development of the web site was practically put on hold.

I concentrated 90% of my efforts on first achieving profitability and then later maximizing it, but far too little on further development. Of course, concentrating on further development would mean having to invest in it, but that was not a very realistic option.

The web site and the internet department itself have matured during all this time. They can be taken much further, but only with a substantial investment that would have to push back in to the red numbers.

On the other hand, much can also be done without much investment, it just takes someone to start doing it.

2. Delayed Opportunities

Putting further development on hold also meant delaying certain business development opportunities. Among those I'm the most sorry for Club, a lifestyle edition, and PRO, a web-only professional & personal financial management % investment subscription site.

Both of these could have generated a much needed competitive advantage for the future that would ensure market leadership at least for another 5 years.

However, none of these two projects could become profitable in less than a year, probably closer to two years.

3. Insufficient Web Site Optimization

This one I'm really sorry for. Because I concentrated so much on profitability I missed out on optimizing the web site's conversion rates and usability based on hard data and analysis.

There are so many areas of improvement here that it actually hurts my heart that I didn't get 'round to doing it.

On the other hand, our programmers didn't even have time to implement some of the optimization tasks that we did plan.

For instance, getting our visitors used to online ordering by giving them 5 free content access chips (each article can also be individually bought for $0.5, by purchasing content access chips) on registration and then starting an ongoing and automated sales dialog with them.

Hopefully they'll still get 'round to doing that sometime:)

OK, enough of the past, time to focus on the future.

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