RE: AM: Customer Acquisition via the Web
I've been reading the recent messages in this thread. I think there are
some very useful and valid tips from folks with solid newsletter
However, we should keep in mind that Bill's client is offering a
'web-based publication', and the rules here are very, very different
from print-based media. I spent a couple of years recently with a major
publishing organization (Thomson) specifically focused on how to get
print and CDROM publishing to work effectively when offered online,
specifically using the web.
Most publishers naturally tend to (initially) try to offer their
products, such as newsletters, in the same basic form. They want to
charge about the same subscription fee and provide the same editorial
content. Most discover this doesn't usually work. Most also like the
idea of site licenses. But again, many discover a huge gap between
theory and reality.
Why? I can't begin to go into all the reasons - there are many books
written about this very topic. I can say that one reason is that it's
incredibly easy to copy (in whole or more often in part) an
electronically-delivered document to other interested parties via
e-mail. Many who do this don't really think they're doing anything
I'd like to advance a notion - and I'd really love to hear others' views
on this - that newsletters per se can't be offered effectively in the
long term, via electronic delivery, be it e-mail or some form of 'push'
I contend - and again, I'd like to here others' views - tht to be
successful, providers of such online content must offer it wrapped in a
set of additional features designed to create a sense of 'community'
among the subscribers. I'm not talking about engaging in a new social
experiment. What I mean, is that they need to create an offering that
'pulls' subscribers to it (on a website), not the other way around.
What does that? All kinds of stuff, like forums (moderated is by far
the best, but costly in overhead), a knowledgebase, white papers,
related links (always kept current), and so forth. Some needs to be
free, and some can incur charges.
Perhaps the most important thing that is eventually discovered is the
need for a flexible pricing plan. For example, you usually want to
allow subscribers to submit content, even if only in the form of
postings. If these postings are valuable, and help draw interest from
other subscribers, you may want to encourage them by rewarding certain
posters with credits. You may want to introduce volume-based pricing.
You may want to separate some content into the free category, some in
the standard category and the rest in a special pay-per-view category.
Stuff like that.
You will need to experiment to find what works best for the particular
Note that all the above is separate from and in addition to the issues
already discussed about lead generation (direct mail, ads, bingo cards,
etc). Both are important - you must get to your target market and
interest them enough to try. But then you need a solid offering to hold
My 2 cents worth.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tom Billington [SMTP:email@example.com]
> Sent: Thursday, May 14, 1998 2:47 AM
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: FW: AM: Customer Acquisition via the Web
> Here are two ways to generate revenue for publications. Just a
> background: I worked for eight years at Phillips Publishing and
> Digest, the world's largest newsletter and magazine publisher
> 1. SITE LICENSES. Some newsletter publishers, particularly in the
> business-to-business space, have found site licenses to be effective.
> licenses are effective for a publisher because the distribution costs
> very low and the price that can be charged to a single large company
> often very high, sometimes above $100,000. That company would then
> distribute the publication to its employees. The problem is that it
> a while for the companies to pay up, since the sum required for the
> is so high. This longer-than-usual pay-up period sometimes makes
> publishers nervous. But overall, once the large companies get over
> nervousness of large up-front payments, this business model can work
> 2. EDITORIAL. This second point hits at how do you get subscribers.
> is an indirect answer to Bill's question. The way to sell an existing
> publication- most effectively online or offline is to target very
> the essential needs of the customers, meet those information needs and
> promote that you're meeting those needs. This may sound obvious, but
> important. In business-to-business newsletters, the audiences
> are much smaller than in consumer publications. So most of the major
> players know each other, talk and schmooze. If your newsletter can
> a "buzz" with exclusive information that really provides essential
> information for an executive about trends, competitors, acquisitions,
> person is bound to subscribe. The technology becomes secondary,
> the executive is really interested in the content, whether it be
> online or
> offline. Since the renewals are the lifeblood of newsletters, as Linda
> points out so well, the editorial really must sell itself.
> FYI: I will be speaking about the "Seven Steps to Breakthrough
> Newsletters" on May 31 at the Newsletter Publishers Association
> and will touch on some of these issues later this month there.
> Hope this adds the discussion, Bill, Linda and Amy...
> Tom Billington, Advisor
> The Potomac KnowledgeWay's Netpreneur Program
> 1801 Robert Fulton Drive, Suite 550
> Reston, VA 20191
> 703/620-8971, ext. 118
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Linda Kolker [SMTP:email@example.com]
> Sent: Wednesday, May 13, 1998 10:36 AM
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: Re: AM: Customer Acquisition via the Web
> I've had many years' experiencing in working with publishers to get
> customers. Here is an idea or two for you to think about. Traditional
> newsletter publishers rely 100% on direct mail as their new business
> generator. And they are finding it harder and harder to make direct
> work. The economics are a killer. Controlled-circulation (advertising
> supported) pubs who switch to the paid-subscription model have a tough
> to hoe. List rental is absolutely the key, and the offer has to be
> structured. And then you have to do renewals--the real money is in the
> end, the renewals. The newsletter publishers who have been my clients
> started with products on paper and have gone to the Internet
> offering a licensing model to subscribers who prefer electronic
> Most publishers who have a website drive readers to it by promoting
> the URL
> in the print publications they send out. The Net is also terrific as
> archive available on a paid basis.
> Motley Fool has been experimenting with print, and may provide an
> instructive model as a business that started out e-based and moved
> paper subsequently.
> I know this just scratches the surface--it's a complex issue.
> Linda Kolker
> At 09:05 PM 5/12/98 -0400, email@example.com wrote:
> >NetResponse is an internet consulting and development agency. One of
> >our clients is in the midst of planning an aggressive customer
> >acquisition campaign. The client is a web based publication, which
> >recently migrated to a subscription model.
> >Thus far, banner ads have not been a cost effective channel. I was
> >wondering what experiences, thoughts, or recommendations people had
> >regards to alternative customer acquisition vehicles.
> >We are looking at list rental for direct email, text ads on email
> >and sponsorships, as well as testing off line advertising mechanisms
> >(direct mail, print, and local NPR).
> >Thank you-
> >Bill Robins
> LeapFrog Solutions