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Sites Can Help Print Circulation

Stored in Online Newspapers and tagged

A common perception among TV and newspaper managers is that they deliver the bulk of the revenue for their Web site operations. The sites are resource hogs. For many years, they lost money.

It’s time for payback. A TV or newspaper Web site can produce plenty of profit, revenue and readership or viewership for its host. One type of payback is with newspaper circulation.

The Newspaper Association of America in a paper a few years ago stated that a newspaper Web site can be the source of 5 percent or more of total newspaper circulation starts. The experience of some sites has shown that the target is a stretch, but possible.

The first step is developing an e-commerce site for people to subscribe using their credit cards. Many papers build the application with an outside e-commerce tool from Google, Yahoo or a host of others.

Pricing varies, but often includes a start-up fee, a monthly fee and a transaction fee. Organizations with more resources will build it from scratch.

Aggressive promotion online and in print produce results. Online promotion includes links built into the site template, house banner ads, special pricing sent out on email lists and, for some sites, even a pop-up ad that will generate both a strong transaction rate.

Keep in mind that the pop-up ad also will generate strong hostility from site users if it stays up too long ? a few days is best.

It may sound odd, but print promotion makes sense as well. The ability to provide renewals, vacation stops, locations and other types of interaction with customer service is a 24 x 7 benefit to newspaper subscribers.

Papers can take advantage of the benefit by putting the Web address for the circulation site into every house ad, on bills and with other promotional channels.

Another interesting decision is pricing. Some papers require full rate for anyone who subscribes online.

But another school of thought points out the subscriptions that come from the newspaper site have a high retention rate and that they cost less because of the lower labor and promotional costs, so a discount should be automatic. These days, driving down prices on everything seems to be the common path.

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