Company: United Business Media's TechWeb
Average monthly unique visitors: 300,000
A redesign of the Light Reading website in February brought two former sub-brands under the Light Reading umbrella with the renaming of Digital Cable News as Light Reading Cable and Unstrung as Light Reading Mobile.
Light Reading, a unit of United Business Media's TechWeb, serves the $3 trillion worldwide telecommunications market, and the industry's global character is reflected at the top of the site's home page, where links to the home pages for LR Europe and LR Asia appear alongside those for LR Cable and LR Mobile. “Many of the developing markets are skyrocketing and there is great interest in them here,” said Joseph Braue, senior VP of the Light Reading Communications Network.
Another differentiator for Light Reading, he said, is the integration of content from Light Reading's two research units, Heavy Reading and Pyramid Research. Analyst bloggers from both units are featured on the site's home page, as well as summaries of research reports that can be purchased.
Video, known as LR TV, is another signature. “Our editors have been very successful in integrating video production into our everyday work process through interviews, documentaries and video blogs, as well as covering our live events before, during and after,” Braue said.
FIRE RESCUE 1
Company: Praetorian Group
Average monthly unique visitors: 272,000
Five-year-old FireRescue1has made great strides in the past year. Registered users are up more than 27% year-over-year; unique visitors have increased 21% and page views 9% since last November, when the site began to use Omniture metrics.
Meanwhile, FireRescue1 has amassed 71,000 fans on Facebook. “We really got serious about Facebook around a year ago, adding depth to our fan page, posting with greater frequency, and pushing signups on FireRescue1 and in our e-newsletters,” said Jon Hughes, editorial director for the site's parent, the Praetorian Group.
“We're now adding an average of 6,000 new fans a month and we've seen a clear impact on traffic. In June, Facebook was our third largest external referral site at 9%.” On May 31, FireRescue1 added a Facebook “like” button to the top of all articles, which automatically adds a link to the user's Facebook wall.
“FireRescue1's success reflects the growing interest among firefighters in sharing information and finding a community online that captures the spirit of the firehouse,” said Alex Ford, Praetorian Group CEO. Community features are prevalent on the site, including a blog called The Kitchen Table that emulates get-togethers where firefighters share stories in their firehouses.
Company: Financial Times Ltd.
Paid digital subscribers: 126,281(March 2010)
Registered users: 2.3 million (June 2010)
With a brand that dates back 112 years, the U.K-based Financial Times continues to break new ground in the digital realm. As of March, FT.com had more than 126,000 paid subscribers, an increase of 15% year-over-year. By May, the steadily growing registered user base reached 2.3 million, up a whopping 138% year-over-year.
The brand is executing a two-fold strategy that FT.com Managing Director Rob Grimshaw terms “a direct relationship with the audience.” On the one hand, the brand is striving to generate more money from its content with the goal across all platforms and geographic regions of having content revenue overtake total advertising by 2012. FT.com has also begun testing a micropayment option in which users can pay to view unlimited content for one day. Users who want to view a limited amount of content for free—currently 10 articles—must register.
“Registered users are incredibly valuable, and the information we gain from them has turbocharged other areas of our business,” Grimshaw said. “It drives the advertising side because we have a fundamentally different offering [from free and non-registration sites], and we reoriented our marketing to focus on using the knowledge we have about our registered users to power marketing.”
Company: Vance Publishing
Average monthly unique visitors: 50,000 b-to-b
Source: Google Analytics
Steve Reiss, VP-publishing director for Vance Publishing's Salon and Wood Interiors divisions, joined Vance 16 months ago. Since then, he has presided over a complete redesign of the Modern Salon website as a portal that provides online communities for each step of a beauty professional's career, including BeautySchoolAdvisor.com for consumers looking to enter the industry. On the b-to-b side, ModernSalon.com is geared toward professional stylists, SalonToday.com to owners and managers, and FirstChair.com to beauty school students.
First Chair is now on the Modern Salon platform; Salon Today is due to be integrated this summer. The single platform will give all the brands a consistent look, feel and navigation.
ModernSalon.com relaunched last fall with a night-and-day change in look and features. “Our audience is artistic and creative,” Reiss said. “We need to be a bit more eclectic and visual than traditional business sites and feature what our users have identified as most critical-inspiration, education and collaboration.”
With a black background and hot-pink accents, ModernSalon.com prominently showcases bold fashion images from world-renowned stylists. Modern Salon TV, which debuted in January, provides regular video updates from the editorial staff and industry contributors. Interactive features include blogs, feedback mechanisms for all content, and Facebook and Twitter conversations.
Company: Access Intelligence
Average monthly unique visitors: 41,000
Source: Google Analytics
Paid subscribers: 8,000-8,500
Source: Self reported
At a time when paid online subscriptions are held up as the Holy Grail for most websites, Chemical Week has been able to stem a 35-year decline in its paid-subscription levels. Content revenue across the Chemical Week brand is around $2 million, said Don Pazour, Access Intelligence CEO.
Step one on the path to this achievement was a site redesign in 2008. “We made our content the most prominent part of the website,” said John Rockwell, VP-marketing and emedia for parent company Access Intelligence. “This created an environment where our loyal readers could easily find and explore the news and analysis we've built our brand on.”
Step two was to stick to a single marketing message: “Our news, analysis and data are the best in the industry and you must pay to read it and use it,” Rockwell said. “This simple message permeated every breaking news e-mail message, every trial subscription offer and all manner of lead-gen efforts. We stopped begging for people to subscribe via discount offers and started raising prices across all classes of customers.”
Subscription prices, starting at $195.97 annually, are based on the user's access level and products, which include bundling online access with print and digital magazine subscriptions and high-value data/information services.
URL: www. focus.com
Company: Focus, Inc.
Average monthly unique visitors: 550,000
Source: Google Analytics
Simply, users generate business-to-business content at Focus.com. The premise behind the site is that it is a platform for creating and widely distributing business expertise in the form of user-generated research, peer-to-peer questions and answers, open discussions, web events and white papers. The site is free to users and content creators; revenue comes from a mix of advertising and lead generation.
Focus, Inc. is a private San Francisco, Cal.-based company formed in 2005 that released the site in June 2009 and started to build up the Focus Expert Network (FEN). By its official launch in May, Focus.com had more than 1,000 experts, and it had amassed 750,000 registered users by early June, according to the company.
“Focus experts have contributed more than 50,000 pieces of research and analysis to Focus.com and in so doing have helped millions of businesses make better decisions,” said Scott Albro, CEO of Focus, Inc.
Why do businesspeople provide this content for free? “Many experts contribute to Focus.com simply because they believe in the power of democratizing business expertise—expertise that's been traditionally reserved for the Fortune 500,” Albro said. “Others find Focus.com to be the most effective third-party platform for promoting their capabilities and expertise.”
Company: Greener World Media
Average monthly unique visitors: 302,000
Source: Google Analytics
Since the relaunch of GreenBiz.com, which was completed in March, Greener World Media has seen double-digit growth in unique visitors and page views. The site was migrated to the Drupal open-source content management platform two years ago and the recent redesign of the online-only brand, which debuted 10 years ago last month, provides a more dynamic visual presentation, improved topic-driven navigation and a more powerful search function powered by Solr.
Hugh Byrne, senior VP-product and audience development for Greener World Media, explained, “We changed the look and feel of the site quite a bit, presenting content in a more compelling format and streamlining navigation to help users get what they wanted more quickly and easily. The new design enables GreenBiz.com to quickly add new products and business lines to the site, including a consultant's directory and subscription management tools.” With the infrastructure now in place to support subscriptions, “we can contemplate expanding offerings in these areas as part of a broader initiative to diversify revenue streams,” he added.
Since Greenbiz.com staff has put more effort into participating on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg and StumbleUpon, “their combined contribution represents a percent of our overall site traffic that's well into the double digits,” Byrne said.
Company: IDG Communications
Average monthly unique visitors: 386,000
A pioneer in Web 2.0 before the term was coined, ITworld was founded a decade ago and acquired by IDG Communications in 2007 from Accela Communications. As proof of its continued relevance, ITworld saw traffic increase 123% between May 2009 and May 2010, which was also the month the site reached an all-time high of 1,338,241 page views.
In the increasingly crowded social media space, “we keep users engaged by continuously offering new features that enable them to showcase their knowledge and expertise,” said Jodie Naze, ITworld director. One recent addition is an interview series in which IT professionals talk about their personal career journeys.
ITworld also added two new sponsorship opportunities. With the new sponsored blogs, advertisers can provide a blogger, choose a topic and have ITworld select a blogger or give full control to ITworld. The sponsor has 100% share of voice in the ad units surrounding the blog. The second opportunity is an ad unit advertisers use to promote a featured download.
“IT leaders are living in a period of unprecedented change and they must connect with, and be involved in, credible conversations with their peers and trusted sources,” Naze said. “ITworld's goal is to be a catalyst for those conversations.”
Company: Moose River Media
Average monthly unique visitors: 381,365
Source: Google Analytics
Founded in 1998, Lawnsite.com is a veritable veteran among b-to-b communities. It has grown steadily because “we work to engage our audience through continuous innovation,” said Sean Adams, VP-online communities, Moose River Media. “We are always modifying forum topics and creating new sub-forums that match the needs and requests of our audience.”
Lawnsite.com consistently produces 4 million to 6 million page views every month, and between May 2009 and May 2010, registered users increased by more than 20% to 107,000.
Adams attributed the growth to “a greater investment in Google Adwords, additional unique content and a strategic decision to publish [some] conversations in the companion print product, Turf Magazine, as well as more people becoming aware of and comfortable with social media.”
LawnSite.com revenue has grown 22.6% from 2008 to 2009 and is on track to increase 35% from 2009 to 2010. “From the start, we made the decision to develop strong partnerships with industry-specific vendors and it has driven our revenue significantly,” he said. Rather than relying on contextual ad programs from third parties such as Google's AdSense, Moose River sells its own keyword sponsorships, as well as sponsorships of individual forums, enewsletter advertising and opportunities to contact Lawnsite's registered members through a private email system.
GOVERNMENT TECHNOLOGY'S GT TV
Average monthly unique visitors: 110,000
Source: Google Analytics
Average monthly video streams: 6,000 (Delve Networks)
GT TV was launched on Government Technology's website, www.govtech.com, in May 2007. Ever since, parent company e.Republic has steadily invested in the video medium.
“Video is a desired medium because it enhances the website, engages the audience and is an extremely good vehicle for communicating,” said Don Pearson, exec VP of e.Republic. He added that video is becoming more important as the digital medium evolves, which is why e.Republic has made a strong commitment to creating original video editorial. GT TV currently has about 300 editorial videos and one to two new ones are added to the site weekly.
In addition to writing magazine and website articles, e.Republic editors “are expanding their skills into video production,” Pearson said. “We've also made an investment in a professional team familiar with the video medium to back-up the editors and make sure our production quality is as high as the caliber of our print and web editorial content.” In January 2007, e.Republic installed in a video studio at its headquarters and hired its first full-time video editor/producer; a second video specialist was added in late 2008.
The initiative to produce original video is part of a larger e.Republic strategy to increase the amount of original editorial content on the company's websites, Pearson added.