Members Reveal Keys in Getting Emails and Conversions

Listening to Jennifer Kern, Gale Media’s director of digital strategy and marketing analytics, speak in an SIIA webinar this week, made me think of a Halloween book by Jerry Seinfeld that I read to kids a couple days earlier. Throughout the book, Seinfeld reflects on the one thought that pervaded his little self’s day: “Get candy.”

Similarly, Kern (pictured here) said that one thought stands behind everything Gale Media does: Get conversions. Fortunately, in these days of content marketing being as commonplace as Madison Bumgarner shutout innings, this leads to strong content across both their free pages and Modern Distribution Management (MDM) premium sites.

Kern’s presentation was one of three excellent and actionable ones under the tagline, How to Turn Your Website Into a Direct Content Sales Channel/e-Marketplace. Andy Kowl, senior VP, publishing strategy for ePublishing, and Dexter Steis, executive publisher for Natural Gas Intelligence, presented the other two. The webinar can be accessed by members as an on-demand video at this link.

Kern’s key takeaway in converting visitors is simply, “ask in multiple places,” and they are quite successful. To build their list, they use:

- a “popover/lightbox” on almost all pages to new visitors. Interestingly, they tested an old-fashioned looking popover they were using—an envelope was the only graphic—vs. a more updated one that showed off their many newsletters. Old-fashioned won by 25%. (Test!)
- callouts at the bottom of free blog posts and articles—their #1 conversion point—and other popular places on the website. They vary the looks.
- links to free newsletter in nav bars.
- an “interrupter” that peeks out from the lower right corner of blogs and free articles.
- an offer on LinkedIn (they got 125 new emails from offering a special report there).

To convert visitors to the paying MDM premium, they do:

- email campaigns offering 10% discounts.
- callouts in the free newsletter and on the homepage.
- testimonial ads.
- links in the blogs. The editors are all big on linking to premium content in their articles.
- an MDM Preview page where a couple paragraphs of a story are shown. A video callout of president Tom Gale on the right sidebar does very well there.
- a separate Premium landing page. Once visitors get there, they are followed by an MDM Premium ad as they travel the web.

Steis has worked at NGI for 18 years; they have 7 B2B newsletters—3 of which are dailies—and 16 full-time people, 2/3 of whom drive content. Their revenue is up 14% YTD—65% of the dollars coming from natural gas data.

Their old website had no focus; it simply showed a lot of small headlines. The new one integrates charts and graphs—and gas price data—in addition to giving visitors free tastes and much clearer links to the subscription products. “We put in the metered paywall October 2013,” Steis said. “At first, people got five free drinks—we wanted to err on the side of being more generous. But we have since peeled that back to 2 free drinks, and on your second click you’re prompted to get a free trial.”

His 5 takeaways:

1. leveraging Content to build traffic is easier than you think.
2. ancillary products (sales) and data sales are natural outcomes of more content and traffic.
3. better website with stickier content has increased renewals. (80% thus far in 2014 versus 65% in 2013)
4. Google News has helped drive traffic both directly and indirectly (from Google Search).
5. More traffic + metered paywall = fewer trials and modesty higher newsletter sales, but ancillary and data driving sales up 14% YTD.

Kowl opened the webinar with a good sampling of pages from members ePublishing works with. He made the argument for free content—without it visitors won’t return and search engines will bring in fewer prospects. “Don’t fear free,” he said mantra-like. He encouraged:

- providing a seamless buying experience.
- building a powerful audience database.
- focus on your responsive site design.

In the always-valuable Q&A, Kern suggested using Google Consumer Surveys to put a survey on your site. “We use just 3 questions. ‘What was your purpose for coming here? Were you able to accomplish what you wanted? If not, why not? If not why?’ It’s important to try to get qualitative feedback. Why did they bounce?”

Again, the webinar can be accessed by members as an on-demand video at this link.

Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

Driving Traffic to Exhibitors Takes Thought and Planning

The more I follow our member publishers—Chartwell, Access Intelligence, ExchangeMonitor, Billington CyberSecurity, Magna Publications and October Research, to name a few—the more I get a sense that putting on conferences and events is proliferating as a strong revenue driver.

And that means recruiting vendors and exhibitors, and planning the best space for booths and a tradeshow. Here are 10 suggestions that I’ve gathered from the Member Listserv and other sources for driving traffic to booths.

1. Create a list of tips and techniques for exhibitors and send it to them well in advance. This includes encouraging exhibitors to contact their own lists to let them know they are exhibiting at this important event. Said one member who did this: “Part of our motivation, frankly, was also self-defense, as if to say, ‘Here’s what you need to do to be successful, so don’t complain if you don’t make any sales or capture any leads.’”

2. Encourage exhibitors to host an ask-the-expert-type forum at their booth. This could be a consultant or their own blogger/writer who can get more exposure and build their persona up. One member called it The Licensing Doctor Is In—and had permission to use the old Peanuts image with Lucy sitting in a lemonade stand with a sign that says, “The Doctor Is In – 5–cents.” They were able to add “Licensing” above the phrase so it looks like an insert.

3. Put programming in the exhibits area. Set up some type of stage and conduct short interviews with industry thought leaders in a sort of talk-show format. Could just be a minute or two of a 30-minute break. 

4. Ask an author or two in your industry (maybe one is a keynote) to sign autographs in that area. Position the person so people will be waiting in front of other booths, giving them time to look around and exhibitors a captive audience. I’ve always said that if I owned a restaurant, I would pay people to stand outside and wait in line. It creates buzz.

5. Put on a sit-down style, speed-networking event early in the Conference. These can be random or with a bit of work, more pre-determined. With the latter, all the vendors (and registrants from the same company) would be on one side so they are not talking to each other. The value is many-fold. Most of all, it allows short, friendly conversations that can preface a longer talk later on.

From a vendor on speed networking: “It allowed me to meet a lot of people in a short amount of time which as a vendor, I would highly value. It was very loud though which was a bit uncomfortable so maybe if you try this, space the seats out a bit so you’re not having to shout over the people to your immediate left and right. And as suggested, some sort of relevant pre-work in advance would be good, so that every conversation isn’t limited to the standard ‘So, what do you do?’ type of questions and then BZZZZ buzzer goes off and you’re on to the next one.”

6. Have food and/or drinks in the exhibit area, especially scent-wafting items like popcorn or fresh chocolate chip cookies. Perhaps the popcorn can be part of a movie red-carpet theme. In Las Vegas last year we had a nice breakfast buffet in that area.  Of course, having the evening networking reception in the booth area will certainly attract traffic, but make sure to spread it out.

7. Encourage exhibitors to provide a calming space. I know Astek used to buy a nice table and chairs from a local Ikea to be able to hold a conversation. (The bowl of apples was a nice touch.) Of course, space is at a premium but Astek didn’t use much.

8. Make the area tight so people have to interact. If we walk into a networking event and see that it is very crowded and hard to get through, we may be a little perturbed. But where are you going to talk to more people, in a room where you have your space or one where you bump into people? Maybe a balance is best.

Said a vendor from a recent conference: “Exhibitors were basically in a hallway that you had to pass through to get to one of the main session rooms (and the coffee area), but it forced, at the very minimum, lots of eye contact and smiles and admittedly, several lighthearted “excuse me’s” as we were trying to pass through.”

9. The often-used idea of “games” has been floated on the Listserv before, where people are encouraged to gain check-offs from every booth and then turn in for prizes. Said one vendor: “That can be okay but be careful that it doesn’t just send the wrong traffic to booths. But if you believe it can break that invisible barrier where people think if they walk up to a booth they will get a hard sales pitch, then it can be okay…”

10. The idea of vendor recognition has also come up—recognizing your longest ones, your most loyal, etc. This seems tricky, although one vendor was all for it: “Rewarding vendors who have contributed over time to a community makes sense and gives them some prominence over the fly-by-night vendors who drop in just for one show and offer no lasting value for the community. You just have to be careful to balance it so that a new vendor is inspired to contribute and not annoyed that they are at the bottom of every list.”

Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

Intellectual Property Roundup

UK High Court Orders ISPs to Block Trademark-Infringing Sites (Securing Industry)
A landmark ruling has been handed down in the UK that establishes the right of trademark owners to secure court orders blocking websites that sell counterfeit products.

German Publishers Capitulate and Let Google Post News Snippets (PC World)
German publishers said they are bowing to Google’s market power, and will allow the search engine to show news snippets in search results free of charge, at least for the time being.

Embedding is Not Copyright Infringement, EU Court Rules (Torrent Freak)
The Court of Justice of the European Union handed down a landmark verdict, ruling that embedding copyrighted videos is not copyright infringement, even if the source video was uploaded without permission.

News Data SHows More Signs that Patent Troll Suits are in Decline (Ars Technica)
A new report published by Unified Patents notes a drop-off in recent patent lawsuits, the second recent indication that there may be a decline in suits following this summer’s US Supreme Court decisions.

Apple Defeats GPNE’s $94M Patent-Infringement Claim (CNET)
Apple last week defeated GPNE in a patent-infringement trial, with a jury determining the electronic giant’s devices didn’t infringe mobile technology owned by the nonpracticing entity.

Judge Refuses to Block Aereo’s DVR Functions (GigaOM)
A federal judge in New York slapped Aereo with an expected injunction, but also hinted how the service might survive in the future, a ruling that could open the door to Aereo operating as a cloud-DVR service.

Google Algorithm Change Hits Streaming, Torrent Sites Hard (Ars Technica)
Video streaming and torrent sites have dropped precipitously in Google rankings after the company altered its algorithm.

Keith Kupferschmid is General Counsel and SVP, Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement at SIIA. Follow Keith on Twitter at @keithkup and sign up for the Intellectual Property Roundup weekly newsletter here.

Join & Save–Owler on the CODiE Awards

titleThis blog was written by : Tim Harsch, Co-Founder & Director of Product, Owler.



We at Owler have long been fans of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). When the founding team was at Jigsaw we were members, and one of the first things that we did when Owler was founded was to join SIIA.

As part of both the software and information industries, it is invaluable to be able to connect with other leaders to discuss the challenges that we are all facing and to stay abreast of the latest trends and policies that affect us. More specifically, participating in the Content Division (CISD) has allowed us to ensure we are maintaining industry best practices as well as helping get our name out there to the community.

Last year we were honored to win a CODiE Award for Best Crowd Sourced Solution, recognizing our team’s hard work in developing a new platform for gathering data in an entirely different way.

CODiE’s are all peer-recognized awards and have a long history of over 29 years – making the distinction of winning that much more meaningful as a recognition of excellence within the industry.

Although we regrettably no longer qualify, the CODiE’s Join and Save program for new members is an ideal way for companies to get a head start in the industry by joining SIIA and earning a free award nomination for the CODiE’s as they do so. Nominations this year just opened and run through November 7. So if you aren’t yet a member, now is the perfect time to join! More details are available via the CODiE’s site here:

Follow Tim on Twitter: @tharsch

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Angel ScottAngel Scott is Awards Program Coordinator at SIIA. Follow the SIIA CODiE Awards on twitter at @CODiEAwards.

Two Member Publishers Take on Exciting New Roles

After much ‘soul-searching,’ Sinkinson moves to consulting role

When it came across our screens a couple weeks ago that longtime SIPA member and highly respected publisher of Infocom Group, Jim Sinkinson, decided to close down his company and start a consulting business, there were questions.

After all, in my piece last week on on-demand training, I quoted Bob Coleman as saying, “[In reality] we are no longer a publishing company. We’re now a training company.” Molly Lindblom thrived at several big publishers before starting Business Transformations. And Lesley Ellen Harris of sold her newsletter a few months ago to focus on her successful courses, books and training.

Is publishers shedding their publications a new trend? (Maybe.) Are publications still the best way to get information across? (They’re one way.)

But in the case of Sinkinson (pictured here), it was something else. “I loved my business and building the Bulldog brand, and loved going to work every day,” he told me on the phone from Oakland, Calif., last week. His website was called Bulldog Reporter—he graduated from the University of Redlands (the Bulldogs)—and it advised on PR and corporate communications. “On the other hand, I was doing it for 35 years; that’s a long run. There were things that I wanted to do that I was not able to—and a lot of things that I had enough of doing—like managing a staff of 15 people. That can be trying and frustrating.

“The favorite things I did in my Infocom life were marketing, strategic planning and new product development. Those are what I do best and enjoy the most. So I always had an eye on returning to consulting.” He has done training and teaching for select clients over the years and enjoyed it.

“I just thought, ‘When do I get to do what I really like to do—and do well?’ It still came after a lot of soul searching. But I just thought that this would be a great time. So I will be happy to get on a plane and go visit clients or work from my new office [in his home in Oakland Hills].”

Sinkinson will board a plane in less than two weeks to attend the Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) in Miami Beach where he will present the session, How to Write Killer Promo Copy. He will be doing it as president of Fired Up! Marketing. (His copy writing days go back to the Phillips Publishing International era, now Access Intelligence.)

For all the good vibrations, Sinkinson did say that it would be naïve to think that the current climate didn’t affect his decision. “It’s a tough market, and times change,” he said. “We [were down to] 1 daily digital newsletter and had stopped publishing most of the others. We were doing a lot of webinars. But what was once a very very strong market, we found it weakening.

“Certainly finding new models will continually be a challenge for people in our business. I’m delighted that Bob [Coleman] has found training to be successful and is getting good traction in his marketplace. It won’t work in every marketplace.” He said there needs to be heavy pressure in your industry for training courses to be effective.

Sinkinson is in the process of selling “a substantial number of the [Infocom] assets.” He can be reached at

Sexton takes over highly regarded Subscription Site Insider

Also in Miami Beach for BIMS Nov. 10-12 will be Kathy Greenler Sexton, the new CEO and publisher of another company SIPA members might recognize, Subscription Site Insider. Authority Media Network—where Sexton is managing partner—acquired the highly respected business earlier this month from Russell Perkins’ InfoCommerce Group.

Most recently, Sexton led the SIIA Content Division during a period of growth as its VP & general manager. “I am honored to lead Subscription Site Insider,” she said in a statement. “When Anne Holland founded [it] in 2009, its mission was to help paid content, membership and subscription content sites be more profitable.

“This mission is more important now than ever as our members face a myriad of new issues, including new technology, mobile applications, legal issues, and the need to adopt fast-evolving best practices in recurring billing, marketing and sales. It’s our job to help members find new revenue streams, grow profits and expand existing revenue sources.”

Sexton wrote to me in an email that she is “excited to get started in my new role, as well as work with our editor-at-large Minal Bopaiah and our new team of contributors. In addition, we plan to keep working with Russell Perkins (and the entire InfoCommerce Group team) as our strategic partner moving forward.”

She can be reached at

To subscribe to the SIPAlert Daily, go to the SIIA website.

Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

Three Innovative Companies Transforming the Information Industry to Present at SIIA Previews

SIIA today announced three companies to present  at the annual SIIA Previews held at the Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) November 10-12 in Miami, Florida. SIIA Previews seeks the most innovative companies currently transforming the information industry. Selected companies are given the opportunity to present at BIMS to over 350 leaders from the business information and media industries. SIIA Preview companies present to secure funding, strategic partnerships, new customers or even an exit.

The 2014 SIIA Previews presenting companies are:

  • EduTone Corporation
    EduTone provides cutting edge, cloud-based Single Sign-On (SSO) services designed for the education enterprise to save budgets, free up valuable instructional time, and relieve the technical and administrative challenges of today’s web-enabled world. EduTone licenses white-label storefronts of its cloud hosted multi-tenant platform to large Fortune 500 technology and education services organizations and markets the platform under the “Global Grid for Learning” brand direct to K-12 education organizations globally. Projected to grow its SSO platform adoption to 10,000+ schools with over 5 million end-users in the next 12 months.
  • is a verified business data platform that identifies consumers in sensitive buying cycle stages across 30+ service provider categories. Lowerfees’ unique “SMB Push” technology matches small businesses with publisher traffic to create new and more effective advertising solutions. The lowerfees data is comprised of over 30 local small business categories in all 50 states and continues to grow through our proprietary data acquisition methodology and active participation from individual small business owners. This verified small business contains the most important market real-time data: pricing.
  •  Social-3 
    Social-3 analyses customer data in a new and innovative way. Through social network analysis influencers are identified among your customers. The influencers can be a target for a marketing campaign to reduce churn or optimize revenue. We also help organizations manage critical aspects of data through data-mining technologies and expertise that provide cost effective marketing campaigns and prevent customer churn. It offers complete enterprise solutions in several industry sectors, including: telecommunications, retail, banking, insurance.

“Over the years we have seen some of the most innovative companies present at SIIA Previews,” said Larry Schwartz, Newstex President and Chairman of SIIA Previews. “We are looking forward to integrating SIPA and ABM companies–as they are now part of SIIA — into the Previews and taking the program to Miami.”

As a result of presenting at Previews several alumni have received investments or have been acquired. Over the years SIIA has featured over 100 companies during the Previews program at SIIA Conferences.

For a complete schedule of events, visit: Updates in advance of the event are available using the conference’s Twitter hashtag: #BIMS14.

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Is it Time to Start Working With Facebook the Publisher?

“The traffic [Facebook] sends is astounding and it’s been great that they have made an effort to reach out and boost quality content. But all any of us are talking about is when the other shoe might drop.”
—An anonymous digital publishing executive in an article by David Carr in The New York Times

Facebook is making friendly overtures to publishers, reports Carr, and that’s an amazing audience to have access to (1.3 billions users!). But with so much power, will the day come when they are not so friendly?

David Bradley, owner of Atlantic Media Company—which profits from its Facebook traffic—is okay with the relationship for now. “Increasingly, people would rather have their news curated by friends rather than editors. Facebook technology may create a better reader experience than publishers can match—pages that load better and better page design.”

Other major publishers aren’t so sure, especially in the U.K. According to a story in Business Insider, “Chris Duncan the chief marketing officer of News UK (a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp) told Business Insider it’s extremely unlikely The Sun or The Times (both of which have paywalls) or other big players like the New York Times, Mail Online or Guardian will sign up to the idea.”

He calls it “a tax on navigation” and a “tax on audience.” Said Duncan: “It’s like handing over the keys to all the things digital publishers are good at. We’d lose visibility of our usage and visibility of our audience. I think you’ll find that big players are big enough not to have to [sign up to the publish-to-Facebook idea] but your mid-tier or smaller-tier newspapers with small circulations might have to make a difficult decision if they want to increase their audience.”

Duncan said that he is concerned by the launch of the Facebook Atlas offsite mobile ad network and if Facebook will be able to potentially sell on what it has learnt from publishers’ own audiences and sell that information on to other publishers to help them advertise on their own sites.

“It feels like the shift has really come about in the last six months as Facebook accelerates towards becoming an ad network,” he said. “As with any media, there will always be changes, but the scale and dominance of Facebook and Google and the fact that the changes they make can affect companies globally overnight is unprecedented.”

“We are at the very beginning of a conversation [with publishers], and it’s very important that we get this right,” said Chris Cox, chief product officer for Facebook, in a video call to Carr. “Because we play an increasingly important role in how people discover the news that they read every day, we feel a responsibility to work with publishers to come up with as good an experience as we can for consumers. And we want and need that to be a good experience for publishers as well.”

How does a small publisher navigate all of this? One big help could be the Pre-Conference Boot Camp on Social Media that Matt Bailey will conduct on the morning of Monday, Nov. 10—just 2 weeks away!—at SIIA’s Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) in Miami Beach. There is no better expert on the efficacy of social media than Bailey, author of the new book, Wired to Be Wowed: Great Marketing Isn’t an Accident.

Doing a quick search, I get the sense that many of our member publishers are choosing not to do much with Facebook, believing LinkedIn and Twitter may be more B2B-oriented. Some exceptions: Spidell posted an update on Friday to its page, hoping customers enjoyed the free Online Research Package weekend “as much as our pal Cal did. Get access and gear up for tax season today!” Chesapeake Family regularly posts, mostly from their magazine. Access Intelligence’s Event Marketer has an active presence and posts dynamic pictures. Pro Farmer just shared a link inviting people to learn more about Pro Farmer’s Tech Talk, a service for VIP Members.

SIIA has an active Facebook page. Almost 300 photos from last week’s Business Media Insights Conference in London are now posted. There’s also a link to an outstanding article by Elizabeth Reid titled “Zero Clicks Away: How Media Companies Are Creating Workflow Tools.” She writes that Russell Perkins, founder and managing editor of InfoCommerce Group, sees workflow tools as the future of the business information industry. (Perkins will be leading a second Pre-Conference Boot Camp at BIMS on Data 101.)

“This increasing merger of data and software is really what it is all about to the point that they are increasingly inseparable,” he said. “It’s hard to [discern] which one is contributing more value to the overall product because they are so tightly integrated.”

For workflow tools, Perkins gave an example of a simple flat data file: Frames Data, a Jobson Optical Group brand. They compile the dimensions of various types of eyeglasses and sell the data file to optical laboratories. Those laboratories upload the file to their database and then are able to grind lenses unattended. “You can see the productivity value of that automatically and that’s without fancy front-end integration,” Perkins said.

The third Boot Camp at BIMS will be on Marketing Events. As more and more publishers turn to events as another revenue generator, this topic is becoming exceedingly popular. That’s three boot camps to choose from on a Monday morning where you otherwise might be sitting around—just for a small extra fee. Check them out!

To subscribe to the SIPAlert Daily, go to the SIIA website.

Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

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