Tips for Doing Mobile Well (and a Little Classic TV)

Ahhh, mobile. I was trying to think this morning what that vanilla response reminded me of. And then it hit me! (And reminded me of my age, particularly on my birthday.)

The wonderful old TV show M*A*S*H. Hawkeye is trying to help Radar sound intelligent when a woman he likes talks classical music.

HAWKEYE: If she brings him up, you just smile and say, “Ahhh Bach.”
RADAR: Ahhh Bach.
HAWKEYE: Smile a little bit.
(So Radar tries it for the woman and she asks, “What’s that mean, ‘Ah Bach’?”)
RADAR: Just that, “Ah, Bach.”
HAWKEYE: I think once you’ve said that you’ve said it all.

I think we still have a tendency to say, “Ahhh mobile,” yet everything we read points to the need for action. The New York Times hit 50% mobile article views last year, and Robin Williams’ death finally tilted the scale to mobile. The upcoming BIMS Conference in Miami will feature Redesigning Email Campaigns for Mobile with the excellent team of Kim Mateus and Calie Brennan from Real Magnet and a What’s Your Mobile Strategy roundtable with the superb duo of Ed Keating from BLR and Larry Schwartz from Newstex.

“Mobile is no longer a specialty, it’s a requirement” said Alex Hardiman, executive director of mobile at the Times. Yes, it is still harder to monetize from mobile, but we all know that’s going to change—and probably pretty fast. So we must jump on the train now.

The leading Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet attracts 1.8 million mobile users compared to 1.5 million desktop. According to an article on the World News Publishing Focus site, “63 percent of new subscribers pay by SMS on their mobiles. With 11 years experience delivering freemium paid content they have recently managed to massively optimise both the sales funnel and user engagement on mobile…

“To keep users active, they have mapped exactly what kind of topics to sell at different times through the day, a 24/7 chart of reader activity. Entertainment works great as a second screen experience, while crime and mystery is perfect for the weekend.

Here are their 3 main lessons:
1. Full commitment from all levels
2. Consumer insights – e.g. deep interviews, surveys, analytics & CRM
3. A/B testing culture

“We have a mantra at Aftonbladet: any new idea we ask—how do we do it on mobile?” said managing editor Ted Kudinoff.

On another highly regarded global news site, Journalism.co.uk, Martin Ashplant, director of digital and social media at the London business news site City AM, gave advice on doing mobile publishing well. (He said that age and locale of your audience is no excuse—“…we’re finding people are using mobile regardless of ages or demographics.”) They’ve increased mobile visitors 190% in six months.

1.“…never underestimate from a user’s point of view…If the site doesn’t load quick enough on mobile, they will lose interest and they go away.”

2. Editorially, focus “heavily” on data journalism and visualization and “working out how that works on mobile.”

3. They’ve moved away from “desktop-based ad types” such as page skins and MPUs…and instead began doing a lot more around native advertising.” (Native advertising is another session at BIMS.).

4. Get a mobile-friendly CMS (content management system). Ashplant said that editorial needs to see how content appears on smaller screens before publishing. “If it doesn’t work on mobile, it doesn’t go out. You’ve got to start getting into that mentality otherwise you’re always going to be seeing mobile as the second sibling.”

5. Get social media savvy. “Social and mobile are intrinsically linked,” he said. People share content more on mobile so you need to identify that type of content. “If you understand who your audience is and what it is that makes them share, then you’re going to win half the battle straightaway.”

6. Keep it simple. “Whether it’s visual or text, get that message across as easily and simply as you possibly can.”

The numbers may not be there yet—even the Times still sees only 10% of new subscriptions come via mobile—but they will. It’s important to get there now so you’ll be ready. When Radar throws in one last “Ahhh, Bach,” Hawkeye whispers, “okay, hold it.” Such an answer will only work for so long.


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.

BIMS Sessions Sparks Revenue-Generating Tips

The Business Information & Media Summit in Miami Beach starts in less than 4 weeks—plenty of time to sign up and join an all-star group of 300 peers! Here are 6 trending topics that will be covered, and interesting takes on the topic.

1. Landing pages. “We write new content and create specific landing pages for specific keywords,” said Carola York of Jellyfish Publishing. “For example, for a boating publication, if we spot that there are a lot of searches around keywords such as ‘boat design’ and ‘latest innovations in boat design,’ we will create a landing page featuring specific content all around boat design and also explain how the publication covers this in its regular content. So we offer quite a bit of free ‘editorial,’ but it’s designed as a teaser to encourage sign up.”
Design and Optimize Your Landing Pages, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 10 a.m. with Adam Goldstein from Business Management Daily, and Greg Krehbiel of Kiplinger.

2. Multi-channel Marketing. There is a risk for digital publishers to “forget that actually the future is mobile,” and to continue to produce content in the same way they would for the web, said Stephen Hull, editor-in-chief at Huffington Post UK, on the Journalism.co.uk site. “Multiplatform really means different audiences on all our different platforms. I think we’re very lucky to be digital only. We’re born on the internet and even at this stage we have our desktop audience, we have a mobile audience, we have an app audience and they’re completely different.”
Multi-Channel Marketing, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 10 a.m., with Denise Elliott of Kiplinger and Eleanor Jones of Business Management Daily.

3. Webinar Revenue. Modern Distribution Management went to sponsored-only webinars around 2009. They now do one webcast about every three weeks. The sponsors pay to co-brand and for leads ($10,000-$25,000 per webcast). Attendance has gone from 50 to 100 to over 300. This gives good leads for sponsors. They do the live webcast and then offer it on demand for up to six months after—which continues lead generation. They also retain the right to sell the webcast DVD post-event. Here’s the promo for a recent webcast. (Tom Gale and Jennifer Kern from MDM will be in attendance at BIMS.)
Webinar Success: How to Generate Significant Revenue and Leads from Free and Paid Webinars, Tuesday, Nov. 11., 11:30 a.m., with Leslie Davidson of Davidson Direct and Susan Woodard of EB Medicine.

4. Communicating with subscribers/customers/members. From Associations Now: The American Youth Circus Organization was having trouble talking to the two factions of its audience—their youth membership and the educators/organizations in the field. So earlier this year they created a new branch—the American Circus Educators Association (ACE). “Having these two different identities within this same vision means it’s so much easier to communicate with each party,” said Amy Cohen, AYCO’s executive director. “Speaking in a voice to kids and teenagers is so much more gratifying when you can speak to them directly and not wonder how is an adult going to recognize what I’m saying.”
Active Listening Approaches for More Effective Marketing, Monday, Nov. 10, 4:30 p.m., with Kevin Novak, CEO, 2040 Digital

5. Optimizing mobile to bring in revenue. “How do we get those people [who join us on mobile] to subscribe after they get on and register?” asked Neil Clark Warren, chief executive and co-founder of eHarmony. Carola York agreed: “We find the highest conversion comes from either desktop or tablet devices, with mobile still struggling behind.”
Redesigning Email Campaigns for Mobile, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2:30 p.m., with Calie Brennan and Kim Mateus of Real Magnet.

6. Lead generation. Optimize your About page. Many of us click on that page after coming to a new site. But you don’t always see a strong Call to Action there. “Your About page should be a conversion-friendly hub where your visitors are directed to shop, jump on your email bandwagon or begin a free trial—all after being informed and inspired” wrote Jen Havice. “If you’re not using your About page to convert customers, you’re losing out.”
Lead Generation for Publishers, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 1:30 p.m., with Danielle Balestra of CFO Publishing

B-to-B Media Industry Revenue Up 3.2% Year Over Year; Tops $13 Billion for First Half of 2014

Note: The data in this report were updated on Oct. 7, 2014, See below for more details.

The results of the Business Information Network (BIN) Report for the first half of 2014 were released by ABM , a division of the SIIA. ABM’s report finds that overall business-to-business media revenue rose to nearly 13.4 billion for the first half of 2014, up 3.2 percent compared with industry revenue for the same period in 2013.

ABM’s report finds that, for the second quarter alone, industry revenue is up just 1.7 percent year over year – the lowest overall growth rate posted since 2010. ABM attributes the lower quarterly growth rate to weak exhibition performance, which yielded a sluggish quarter for trade shows and conferences, and sharper declines in print advertising revenue.

“The b-to-b media industry continues to grow this year, thanks to strong gains in digital advertising and persistent demand for data-driven business intelligence,” said ABM Managing Director Mike Marchesano. “Data for the second quarter of 2014 demonstrates how essential mobile, video and big data have become for the future of our industry.”

The ABM BIN Report measures four general sources of revenue: trade shows and conferences (events); print advertising; digital advertising; and business information products and database services (data). According to the quarterly report released today for the three months ending June 30, digital advertising rose 12.6 percent, and data revenue rose 3.3 percent. Meanwhile, event revenue rose just 1.4 percent year-over-year, while print advertising revenue was down by 5.7 percent compared with the second quarter of 2013.

To compile its BIN Reports, ABM tracks business media revenue for print, digital, event and data channels on a quarterly basis. To access BIN data for 2014 and subsequent years, visit http://www.abmassociation.com/abm/Business_Information_Network.asp.

Note: On Oct. 7, 2014, this release was updated with revised print ad revenue. The growth rate for print advertising in the second quarter was revised to -5.7 percent, a change from the -9.9 percent originally reported. As a consequence, total growth for the second quarter is now 1.7 percent, not 0.4 percent; and growth for the first half of 2014 is 3.2 percent, not 2.5 percent.

SIIA Launches Online Platforms to Connect High Tech Companies & Provide Resources on Latest News and Trends

SIIA today announced the launch of SIIA Communities. Created by the SIIA Software Division, these online forums serve as an innovative new platform for connecting and informing companies involved in the software and digital content industries.

Open to companies that are members of SIIA, these seven separate communities focus on big data, Internet of things, finance and more, while a specially-designed CEO Network community provides tools and resources to help chief executives improve effectiveness and gain competitive advantage in the marketplace.

In addition to delivering news, event information and industry updates, each SIIA Community features an ISV Connect form – which allows participating companies to request introductions to other members – as well as a resource section featuring market research and other assets submitted by SIIA or the member community. SIIA is also creating advisory boards to help develop and guide each community.

Even in this time of pervasive social platforms, many high tech leaders told us there’s no effective digital platform for staying up to date, learning, and meeting others in their fields. SIIA Communities fill this void by providing unique online sources for education, networking and news. Participants will have access to nontraditional networking opportunities, along with highly-focused, issue-specific platforms for news, research and other resources.

The following SIIA Communities were launched today:

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  • Rhianna Collier is VP for the Software Division at SIIA. Follow the Software team on Twitter at @SIIASoftware.

SIPA 2014 Speakers Offer Tips and Preview June Sessions

The beauty of conferences – like SIPA 2014, Strategies for Growth, June 4-6 here in Washington, D.C. – is that you hear from experts who have seen both sides and emerged better from it. They’ve done the hard work, perhaps changed, perhaps came back to an idea; now it’s our privilege to hear what worked. Take a look at the schedule posted online. Meanwhile, here are 3 sessions and 1 keynote where the speakers offer a tip and a preview:

Lead Generation: The Art and Science of Finding, Nurturing and Selling to New NamesRobin Crumby (pictured), founder and director of Melcrum, will lead this session. Direct online marketing channels work well for subscriptions up to a certain amount, but for higher B2B subs, the role of online marketing shifts to lead generation.
His tip: Crumby uses web content, SEO, pay per click and social to create a large pool of prospects, then captures emails via webinars, e-letters and report downloads. Then those who complete a form are followed up by sales people. Analytics will allow you to track back to see which traffic-driving activities ultimately deliver quality leads. It helps to provide prospects with documents to help them convince the boss. On the corporate level, sell to your champions; find out what they need to convince others.

New Rules for Product Development and Time to Market – Consultant Molly Lindblom (pictured) delivered an excellent webinar for us last year on Lean Start-up, and David Foster, CEO of BVR, delivered an equally actionable webinar on growing new products. Their teaming up makes it highly anticipated.
Her tip: Asked about concern for competition and giving away ideas (through Lean Start-up), Lindblom replied: “The goal is to learn about your customers. Your competition is just as smart, so the key here is speed. This is a quick way to vet your ideas so you can get [a new product] to market earlier.”
His tip: “The sales and marketing resources needed to succeed should be clear, identifiable and sensible to an objective outsider,” Foster said. “i.e. ‘We’ll just give these 1000 leads to our best sales person and they can add them to their daily call list’ is not a successful strategy.”
(Members can check here for the audio of those webinars.)

Pricing Strategies to Increase RevenueChristine Durman, partner, Abbey Road Associates, will discuss how to maximize your revenue by thinking differently about your customer’s value drivers, and your price positioning.
Her tip: “Sometimes, you need to change the conversation. [On one particular product], the problem wasn’t that the price was too high, it was that the product was too bloated—too much packaging. The key thing here is don’t jump straight to your pricing; think about your presentation, your packaging, your structure. Thinking through those elements will give you more confidence in your pricing.”

From Print to Provider: The Nexzuspub and Home Depot Story – Keynote speaker Andrew Waite, president and publisher, NEXZUS Publishing Group, will share his story of how he partnered with Home Depot to create a fully integrated app for the contracting industry that is delivering double digit returns for his business as well as for his partners.
His tip (from an interview on flipnerd.com): “What you find with technology…most people are brought up in just one niche. When you say to them, and this is what happened at Home Depot, ‘Okay, we want you to interface with the mainframe which, oh by the way, is running on a 30 year old BMS, A.G. Edwards technology or databases.’ They go, ‘We don’t do that. We don’t understand it.’ …what we’ve found is that there’s a huge opportunity for going back into system integration. That’s what we’re doing with some of this mobile technology. If you’re a national account for Home Depot, like Homevestors is, you’ve got those technologies coming to you at no charge because they want to capture the revenue.”

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

SIPA 2014 Speakers Offer Diverse Areas of Knowledge

The SIPA 2014 session schedule highlights prominent speakers who work for or have started innovative companies. Here is key information from 5 of those speakers/companies and the topic they will address June 4-6 in Washington, D.C.

1. On the excellent Newstex blog a couple days ago, Susan Gunelius wrote about comScore research that analyzed the top eight social media platforms in the U.S. Only two are accessed more on the desktop than mobile devices:
LinkedIn: 74% desktop vs. 26% mobile
Tumblr: 54% desktop vs. 46% mobile
Facebook: 32% desktop vs. 68% mobile
Twitter: 14% desktop vs. 86% mobile
Pinterest: 8% desktop vs. 92% mobile
Instagram: 2% desktop vs. 98% mobile
Vine: 1% desktop vs. 99% mobile
Snapchat: 0% desktop vs. 100% mobile
Larry Schwartz, president of Newstex, will speak at SIPA 2014 on licensing and distributing content.

2. Season Crawford, associate publisher and vice president of marketing for Modern Markets Intelligence, spoke to me today on a range of subjects. Here is her take on managing remotely for a small company. “What makes it work for us is having the right technology to communicate with each other—Google Sites, Google Hangouts, Basecamp—and having immediate access to one another. Even though we don’t see each other all day, we are comfortable communicating 9-5 and even outside of that when necessary. Also important is that everybody knows their role and what’s expected from them. To make it clear we have policies and procedures on our Google site. If there’s a new idea about the way things should run, then that is added. So it evolves. Another really important element—and I’m still learning on this—is communicating clearly and concisely, always taking into consideration the technology you’re using. If there’s a problem, I jump on the phone. It helps to hear the inflection in your voice.”
Crawford will speak on managing remotely at SIPA 2014.

3. Pro Farmer marketing director Joe May mentioned something to me last year that made an impact, farmers on tablets. “We use email quite extensively, tying it together with the call center, which is a big driver for sales. As for the time to send, we look at analytics and know our opens spike from 6 -7:30 in the morning, lunch, and then early evening. We’ve also found more and more farmers using tablets, taking their iPads with them on their tractors and combines, as our tablet web traffic has grown exponentially this year.”
May will speak on mobile strategies at the SIPA 2014 Conference.

4. When I first talked to Robin Crumby a few years ago, he presented two concepts that helped him succeed: “First, keep it simple: Information businesses get complicated very quickly, so stick to the formats that work best. Second, squeeze the lemon: It is always tempting to diversify into other topic areas, but focusing on your core market yields the best returns.”
Crumby, managing director of Melcrum, will give a session at SIPA 2014 on lead generation.

5. On the infocommerce blog recently, Russell Perkins wrote eloquently about good enough and very good data. “There still seems to be a large and active value segment of the market, those who will be happy with “good enough” data in exchange for a reasonable price. At the same time, there are customers who will pay remarkably high prices for data they can depend on, because it’s driving some critical business activity. And to the extent you differentiate your data through your user interface and data manipulation tools, you can often define still another market that wants to powerfully interact with your data. My take-away is that the data business is increasingly not about winners and losers. Multiple companies with largely similar data can exist and succeed by having differing price points, levels of coverage and degrees of accuracy. The front-end you provide to your data can be customized to appeal to specific market segments as well.”
Perkins, founder and managing director of infocommerce, will speak on your data business at SIPA 2014.

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 as managing editor. Follow Ronn on Twitter at @SIPAOnline

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