HW Media HQ

The Profitable Publisher, Part One: Digital Media Businesses as Funnels

Ever since I worked at Travelzoo, I’ve thought about digital media businesses as funnels. 

You attract readers to the top of the funnel, your website, through search, social, and other content distribution platforms like Flipboard

You move readers to the middle of the funnel with loyalty products like email newsletters and podcasts. You can also implement a registration wall that requires readers to share their email after reading a certain number of articles. 

Registration wall on HousingWire.com

You convert readers to the bottom of the funnel when they pay for a subscription or purchase an event ticket. 

In my digital media businesses, I like to see 10% of my average monthly website visitors sign up for my loyalty products like newsletters and podcasts. Then I like to see 5% of that loyal audience convert to paying readers. 

HousingWire.com funnel

The goal at HousingWire is to generate 50% of our revenue from readers and events. Everything I’ve done as Chief Product Officer has been focused on constructing a better funnel. 

  • We built a world-class WordPress site with infrastructure and hosting through WordPress VIP to maximize page load speed and UX
  • We increased authority in search by focusing the newsroom on our core topics of mortgage, real estate, fintech, and economics 
  • We developed more attractive and efficient integrations with social and content distribution platforms 
  • We improved editorial process and quality control so side door readers from search and social are always reading great content 
  • We designed a registration wall so that readers must establish accounts with us after reading a certain number of articles
  • We developed several niche newsletter products like LendingLife for loan originators and OpenHouse for real estate agents
  • We created our weekly Housing News podcast and will launch a daily podcast on 4/13/2020
  • We kept all newsroom content ad-supported and created a plus-one membership experience called HW+
  • We publish information, analysis, and community in HW+ that readers can’t get anywhere else, and therefore encourage new subscriptions and retention 
  • We pivoted our event strategy towards virtual events to maintain growth in event revenue while we deal with the impact of coronavirus 

I look forward to continuing this series in Part Two, where I will do a deeper dive into how we constructed the top of our funnel at HousingWire.

3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

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