What are newspaper publishers to do?

This morning I was reading a Harris poll from the Mediapost about daily newspaper reading habits, Newspapers_webwhich had some very revealing statitstics that are surely going to hurt the newspaper industry more.

In fact, content wars are heating up all over the place.  I was reading up on DomesticatingIT’s article roundup last week, and Jon highlighted several articles about the struggles of online content, and monetization of that content.

But the problem is, people aren’t reading newspapers as much anymore, that’s a fact.  And it appears they don’t want to pay for it either.  Some stats:

  • Two in five U.S. adults (43%) say they read a daily newspaper, either online or in print almost every day
  • Just over seven in ten Americans (72%) say they read one at least once a week
  • 81% read a daily newspaper at least once a month.
  • One in ten adults (10%) say they never read a daily newspaper

With that shift in readership that is only going to continue in this direction, AND the fact that most daily newspaper readers are in the 55+ bracket, who will be willing to pay for content?  Not many suvey said…

  • 77% of online adults say they would not be willing to pay anything to read a newspaper’s content online.
  • One in five online adults would only pay between $1 and $10 a month for this online content
  • Only 5% would pay more than $10 a month.

So what are newspapers to do?  They need to generate revenue, and they are losing subscriptions by the day.  It all feels messy.  And it could go very wrong, like in the music industry.  We all stand to lose though.
What would you be willing to pay for?

Photo: Free Foto

UPDATE:  2-5-10

Just wanted to add this to the conversation here, I happened to read another study about where newspapers are fitting in with our internet reading habits.  Where do we get our news?  Where do we turn to?

For “news right now,” 57% of news users now go to digital sources, up from 33% a few years ago. 31% are likelier to turn to an aggregator than a newspaper site (8%) or other site (18%).

So, where can newspapers bring value?

Local topics, news, family events, and entertainment, remain the domain of local companies. National topics are going both profoundly digital and national.

I would concur with this trend, as it reflects my own viewing habits. I have turned away newspaper sites, even my own local newspaper that requires paid access when I cannot access the full article. Check out the article, though. Some juicy comments too, not all in agreement with my thoughts either.

2010 Outlook, Part 1: Search and E-Mail Marketing

2009 was a turbulent year, to say the least. Manufacturing and high tech took a good hit. Not quite as dramatic as 2001, but painful nonetheless. For marketers, this turbulence means more attention is being paid to tighter and tighter budgets. The pressure is on to make each dollar, each click, each conversion targeted and relevant. Not surprisingly, that means more of our budgets will be spent in the digital domain.

No matter what industry you’re in, odds are your total marketing budget decreased but your e-marketing budget increased. In part 1 of this multi-part series, let’s take a closer look at search and e-mail marketing.

Search Marketing
According to MarketingSherpa’s 2009-2010 Search Marketing Benchmark Report, “Text ads accompanying search results came into the world with little fanfare, but the real-time, individually targeted, bid-based buying system they spawned is now on the verge of becoming the dominant method for all commodified media buying.”

Search engines are in and industry magazines are suffering. The good news is that the volume of paid clicks on search engines has been steadily increasing over the last few years; Google remains the dominant player. The bad news is that we’ve seen many of our favorite publications go out of business or decrease their frequency because of shrinking advertising dollars.

E-Mail Marketing
On the e-mail side, changes are afoot. In MarketingSherpa’s 2010 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, they ranked the effectiveness of various e-mail marketing tactics. In order, from most to least effective, we see:
• Delivering content relevant to segment
• E-mail to house lists
• Event-triggered autoreponder e-mails
• Sharing e-mail on social networks (less than 10%)
• Ads in third-party e-newsletters (less than 10%)
• E-mail to rented lists (less than 10%)

Content is still king but is the hardest component of the e-marketing program to conquer because it takes work to churn out a regular series of informative and relevant articles.

The one area above that we’ll disagree with is their conclusion about the relative ineffectiveness of ads in third-party e-newlsetters. We find there are some great vertical vehicles within the engineering and technology markets that produce both clicks and conversions.

But changes are coming to the world of e-mail marketing. As the Gen Y’ers age, they bring with them new communication habits. In a recent speech, John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, cited a company survey that found most kids graduating from college today rarely use e-mail. Instead they rely on social media: texting or instant messaging via AIM or Yahoo or Facebook or MySpace. Yes, they will all be assigned an e-mail address once they hit the corporate world, but they may be more likely to rely on messaging than e-mail over the long run.

Next post, we’ll look at social media and what’s in store for 2010.

Top 5 Faves week ending 1-22-10

This week we take a look at a few different articles, and run the range of topics from what Rockwell is doing with their social media strategy to a great blog post that outlines how to create a world class customer experience.  Enjoy!

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1. Rockwell Automation Makes Social Marketing a Strategic Channel

I was pleased to read this article and see that large companies like Rockwell have the right approach when it comes to social marketing.  Web site visits are not the goal for Rockwell, can we get an amen there? They are looking at how to integrate this into all their marketing efforts, and are experimenting with more sharing activities with technical personnel and more.  Love to hear it.

2.  Cisco, Social Media, and the Art of the Press Release

What I liked about this article was it highlighted that we really need to be careful with our strategic marketing messages.  In this article, the author talks about being able to read the tea leaves a little too clearly in Cisco’s attempt to instill “fear” as a method to drive further action.  Easy does it a transparent world….

3.  Twelve Steps in Creating a Bootylicious Facebook Page

Is bootylicious a word?  Lol…I still love it.  And to be clear this article was actually published the week before last, but it is still worth sharing.  Many clients we work with have put up a Facebook Fan Page, but then don’t know what to do next.  John Haydon shares 12 no-nonsense tips to making your Facebook Fan Page stand out.

4.  Email for Life

How well do you re-market your products and services to your customers and prospects?  This article highlights how we can remarket more effectively by watching how buyers engage. For example if your system notes that a buyer has abandoned a shopping cart for your product catalog, do you re-engage that buyer within a couple of days to remind them?  How often have we all abandoned our shopping efforts due to a life distraction?  This article talks about a recent research report called “The Remarketing Report” and while some of the data is B2C (and B2B), there is a nugget or two in there to learn.

5.  Is Your Customer Service World Class?

Written by Frank Eliasson, the well-known customer service master behind @comcastcares and recently highlighted in BusinessWeek talks turkey about what it takes to create a world class experience for your customers.  If you are thinking about how to bring social tools to your customer service functions, then check out this post.

#Socialgraphics the new demographics?

I happened to listen in to a webinar last week by Jeremiah Owyang and Charlene Li from the Altimeter Group about “Understanding Your Customer’s Social Behavior” that highlighted emerging behavior characteristics that we are discovering in the social networking world.  The  days of targeting by geography, gender, age are taking a backseat now that virtually every category and age group of consumers/buyers are participating in social networks.  Intricate relationships are being built online everyday, and the “carpet bombing” approach of market targeting is old news.  I wanted to share some of the highlights that help draw the difference between socialgraphics and demographics:

First one that clicked for me was this:

Socialgraphics key questions

Source:  Altimeter Group

These are different questions than the normal approach for defining a target market. Social networking blurs the traditional lines that we (marketer’s) are comfortable with, but I do believe there’s a goldmine here if we can get this right.

Here we are trying to figure out the line of influence among our buyers, and how decisions get made in a social world.   It goes beyond connecting traditional dots.  The first question is one we hear alot:  Where are our customers online?  Do you know? Are you putting the right listening tools in place to find them?   If you don’t know, then it’s time to start thinking about how to find out.  As Jeremiah and Charlene said, “go whereever they are.”

While I am not reviewing each question,  I do want to highlight another one that further illustrates the difference in approach:

Q3 What social information does your market rely upon?

Do you know what type of information is being shared by your audience? Are they talking about products, themes/topics regarding work, personal, what links do they share and what are they?  The old approach was much less insightful or personal, it was more about where masses of audiences were and to put together programming that best matched the reach for that audience.  And, the approach was for us vendors to tell our audience something, not necessarily  care about what article they read in a magazine, but just that have been noted as a READER the magazine.  There’s a fine line there.  While it may seem like more digging around that is time consuming, it is really important to get your arms around how your social networks  are evolving.  They are like living organisms, and if you try to disrupt their sensitive nature by barging in and making assumptions about what information they rely upon, you’ll find yourself on the outside.  Watch first, learn what they are doing, how they are sharing, and what they are sharing.  It all matters.

Climbing the social behavior ladder

Classifying social behaviors

Classifying social behaviors

Source: Altimeter Group

Building off the 90-9-1 Principle by Jay McKee where in a given social network 1% are creators, 9% are editors and 90% are audience, Altimeter wanted to update the framework where engagement is the key element that drives each one of these social behaviors outlined above.

  • Watching – is the majority of people participating in a social network – the 90% as mentioned above..  They watch what other people say, watch videos, download podcasts, and they want to keep tabs on what their network is up to.  Engaging this audience requires to first understand what content they are consuming, find a way to develop relevant content so that they are more likely to consume what you are offering.  Here you are building social capital, even though it can feel like nothing is happening.
  • Sharing:  These people are updating their status’ in applications like Twitter, forwarding photos, videos, articles to friends. They get satisfaction sharing information with their friends and colleagues.
    Engaging this audience requires making your information “sharable”.  Do you have tools like “ShareThis” or “AddThis” built into your web site, blog for your content and events? How easy are you making it to share information with others?  Here you can start to actually see progress, and measure engagement activity.
  • Commenting: These people are the ones who actively participate and respond to others, it could be commenting on a blog post, responding to an article posted on a web site, writing reviews or rating products.  They may not do this activity every day, but do make themselves known.  Engaging this audience requires providing mechanisms to encourage commenting behavior.  Add places for comments on your product catalog, web site and blog.  Altimeter suggests every web page have commenting features.  In some cases it may mean looking at social network platforms like Awareness, Mzinga, or Lithium because the complexity of interaction may not be readily available in your current web site host or design team.  I still see some blogs that require a special sign-in to make comments- eliminate this and make the commenting process as easy and accessible as possible.
  • Producing:  Continuing up the pyramid, people who fall into this category create and publish their own content, i.e. articles, blogs, podcasts.  They desire to express their identity, creativity, and want to be heard or recognized.  Engaging this group requires a different approach than the others. Here we want to appeal to their desire to be recognized and known.  Provide opportunities to recognize people in your network who are doing this, allow these people to become “a platform for the voice of your customers”.  Organize sponsored discussions, tap these people to lead/participate/promote with you, get them involved when and where possible.
  • Curating:  These people are heavily involved in online communities, are the first to set up Facebook Fan Pages or a Wikipedia page, post to discussion boards, and do this daily.  It’s a natural extension of how they work, they have the desire to give back in knowledge or service and also want to be recognized like the producers above.  In the webinar, Jeremiah and Charlene described how Coca-Cola’s Facebook Fan page was started up by a couple of fans.  It became so popular that Coke invited them to stay on to manage the page full time.  While many us do not work for Coca-Cola, we probably can think of one or two people who fall into this category.  They are easy to find, they are continuously out there sharing, commenting, and producing.  Engaging curators is recognize their efforts and rely on them as trusted advisors and even as “non-paid” partners.  They are evangelists at heart, work with their passion, give them support and kudos, and you will be rewarded by gaining social credibility instantly.

All in all, it was helpful webinar that highlighted the changes that I’ve been feeling as we are putting together our 2010 programs for our clients.  Driving web site visits is no way to measure marketing program success, there are many more layers to it now.  While demographics will not completely go away, we are smart to embrace new trends that will affect our marketing programs, as well as have a new #socialgraphic framework to relate how to support, promote and engage our audiences who are swimming around social networks.

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