HCPro used to be a fairly standard for-fee publisher in the B-to-B healthcare industry. CEO Jim Flanagan explains, “We were an old-line subscription newsletter company with about 30 monthly and weekly newsletters. We launched our first free ezine four years ago, but it wasn’t a big deal. It slowly built up to 5,000 subscribers. It wasn’t generating any revenues.” Then, two years ago Flanagan decided to “change our online strategy radically” in hopes of growing profits via the Internet.
HCPro developed a series of vertical “super-sites” for each of its seven primary markets. Flanagan realized his content was niche enough that search engines wouldn’t drive a lot of traffic to them. So he launched a free email newsletter for each site and heavily promoted them to his 75,000 strong paid-customer base. Unlike HCPro’s for-fee print newsletters that featured in-depth analysis, these freebies were much shorter (2 pages at most) and mostly contained summarized news briefs. Readers were encouraged to pass them along to their colleagues. As readership grew, Flanagan’s team created new revenue streams by selling sponsorships for $60-80k per year and promoting HCPro.com’s ecommerce store which sells the company’s print subscriptions, books, audiotapes and videos.
More than 140,000 healthcare professionals have opted-in to receive HCPros free email newsletters. The company’s sponsors are happy with the results of their text ads in the newsletters and banner ads on the sites where clickthrough rates range from 5-10%. Plus HCPro’s ecommerce store now sells $30,000 worth of products a week at an average price point of $200 and 42% of purchasers are brand new customers to the company! Flanagan calls this “incredibly exciting. We used traditional direct marketing for years and thought ‘how could anybody not know about our product?’ and here we are turning up a large number of new customers through this medium.”
NOTES: So far HCPro has managed most of this growth by using in-house sales and editorial resources. Next, they plan to launch a series of PDF file eBooks. Flanagan says, “This will have a huge impact on us. We publish 65 titles in print now. The economics shift [with eBooks], we’ll be able to publish special reports and books on a size scope and price point we could never touch before. Now our titles can be more focused, have shorter life cycles -- and at an average of $1200 a title production costs, there’s much less money at risk.”
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