March 10, 2011
How To

Driving Traffic from Print to Web: 50% increase in website traffic in six months

SUMMARY: Many consumer marketers who engage with potential customers in a print format -- from newspaper ads to menus and brochures -- seek to drive that audience to the Web for deeper engagement.

One B2C publisher invested in revamping his website, and undertook an aggressive multi-pronged approach for driving traffic from the print publication to the new site. Find out what tactics he used to achieve this goal, and what efforts were most successful.
by David Kirkpatrick, Reporter

Coffee News is a free local publication with franchises across the United States and internationally. Mike Seitz publishes three editions in the Virginia Peninsula. The print version is Seitz's best-selling tool for his key source of revenue, advertisements, because, "it's out there, people like it, and people read it."

At the same time, last Fall he realized creating a strong website and actively driving traffic to the site from the print edition would accomplish several goals:
o It's an avenue through which Seitz can and find new advertisers
o It's another avenue to promote his current advertisers
o With an older readership -- more than half of his readers are older than 50 -- the website is a way to make sure his product is relevant and interesting to a younger demographic
o Having a popular website allows Seitz to leverage marketing techniques and tools such as Microsoft Tags, an email newsletter and smartphone technology

He explained, "The website is a benefit for me because it's another avenue for me to sell through. My goal is twofold -- to market my advertisers to the best of my ability while at the same time making some money."

"With most of my advertisers having some sort of Web presence, I wanted to revamp my website, make it very user-friendly and attempt to make it a source of information for my readers so that Coffee News is more than just that little, brown paper they pick up occasionally in a restaurant."

After some conducting some informal research, Seitz realized his previous website wasn't doing everything possible to promote his advertisers to the fullest, and over September and October last year he developed a new site changing both the homepage URL and the layout and design of the site.

Beginning in November, Seitz began actively driving traffic from the print version of Coffee News to the website using several tactics to execute the strategy of gaining more visits for both his, and his advertisers, websites.

Tactic #1. Use contests to drive Web traffic

Seitz has a basic contest, common to many Coffee News franchises, which he runs monthly, based around the print version of the paper. The company logo is a waving cartoon man he calls, "Little Bill," and each month he hides Little Bill in one ad.

The contest has simple rules:
o Only one entry per person per week
o Participants provide their full name, address, phone number and where they read Coffee News
o The goal is to find Little Bill in the ad
o Participants can enter the contest five different ways -- telephone, email, postal, scan an ad tag or at the website

One winner out of all the correct entries each month receives a $25 Visa gift card that is branded for Seitz's print editions. The contest provides value for the advertisers because it encourages readers to scour the print ads.

After beginning the website push in November, he added a holiday contest designed to drive Web traffic with slightly different rules:
o Participants could enter as often as they liked
o Participants provided first name, phone number and where they live
o Most importantly, participants could only enter the contest on the website or by scanning an ad tag that took them to a mobile-optimized version of the site

The contest was called, "Christmas Cash Contest," and the prize was a $100 Visa gift card. Coupling unlimited entries with a much larger cash prize, Seitz saw a dramatic increase in participation, and obviously in Web traffic for contest sign-ups.

He continued to experiment with a new contest around Valentine's Day he called "Dream Date Night." The prize for this event was a package provided by sponsors including a dinner for two at a local restaurant, one night at a hotel that distributes the paper in its lobby, a dozen roses and a box of chocolates.

Although the total value of the Dream Date Night contest was about $270, the $100 gift card holiday contest created the most entries and interest. In this case, cash proved to be king. Seitz intends on running the holiday contest again in 2011.

Seitz is will keep experimenting with different variations to see what drives the largest response, and what, by extension, increases Web visits.

Tactic #2. Leverage smartphone technology

The Christmas Cash Contest also featured another method of marketing the website. Participants had to enter the contest online, and smartphone users could snap a photo of a Microsoft Tag in the print version of Coffee News to enter the contest immediately.

Seitz had compared QR Codes and Microsoft Tag technology, and he chose Microsoft Tag because he felt the tech offered more options than QR Codes.

He said Microsoft Tags allow him to see how many people scan the code, and will drive smartphones to the desired marketing piece, including:
o A website
o A video commercial about the product or service in the ad
o A coupon that is returned to the phone in the form a text message

Additionally, these Tags can be used as virtual business cards, where the tag is scanned by taking a picture, and business card information is automatically downloaded to the phone. It can also ask permission to automatically dial a phone number for the advertiser featuring the tag.

Seitz is now using Tags for almost all of his print ads, providing extra value for his clients, and he's using Microsoft Tags to allow people to enter his various contests. This Web traffic is actually directed to a Web page that is tailored for mobile devices.

Seitz has received feedback on one problem with Microsoft Tags, some readers have reported the tags are hard to use in dimly-lit restaurants where Coffee News is distributed, but he is continuing to build awareness of the technology and utilizing it in print ads to drive traffic to his mobile-optimized website.

Tactic #3. Keep on innovating

After Seitz determined he wanted, and needed, a stronger Web presence with increased traffic coming to the site from the print product, he was willing to tinker with his standard contest and adopt new technology to garner website visits.

He is keeping up that spirit of innovation with three new online marketing efforts

- Dedicated landing pages for each edition's advertisers

He's now in the process of creating landing pages on the main website that features all the advertisers for that particular paper. This adds value for each advertiser because it gives their ad another venue, and includes a link back to their website to help in both driving Web traffic and SEO for Google searches.

Seitz explained another benefit of this landing page:

"Because I distribute the paper in different areas, if a reader lives in Williamsburg and doesn't get out of Williamsburg much, they won't see who the advertisers are in Yorktown. But if they go the Web and start poking around on the Coffee News website, they are going to come across the page of Yorktown advertisers and they might click through there and the Yorktown advertisers might very well be willing to do business in Williamsburg."

The second new marketing effort is:

- An email newsletter

The list is being built by opt-in registrants at the website, and the initial newsletter will go to Seitz's entire contact list with a clear opt-out option. This effort is still in the planning stages, but Seitz has an interesting idea in content marketing that rewards his best advertisers.

He currently publishes three editions of Coffee News, and anyone who advertises in all three editions will be designated a "Coffee News Expert" by Seitz, and will be offered the opportunity to provide content for the planned weekly newsletter. This provides Seitz with newsletter material, and offers added value to his most valuable clients.

Seitz already has four Coffee News Experts lined up for the email newsletter.

The third effort is:

- Offering video advertising to his clients

Another place Seitz sees an opportunity to create traffic for the new website and add value for his clients is video advertisements. Microsoft Tags help to drive Web traffic to video and interactive graphics.

The first video advertisement at the Coffee News website will feature a Realtor's ad with a Tag in the print ad that leads to a short clip of the Realtor talking about a property for sale with a call-to-action at the end of the clip.

He sees the video ads as a way to enhance advertising numbers, and enhance the print ad with immediate feedback in the form of the video ad on a smartphone.

Seitz determined he needed a stronger Web presence only six months ago, but he has taken many steps to drive traffic from his successful physical product to the revamped website. The most important aspect of this entire effort is his willingness to think outside the box and keep innovating to find what works best.

Seitz has done everything from rethinking his regular contests to adopting Microsoft Tag smartphone technology to adding entire new pieces to his electronic marketing campaign. Together, these efforts are improving his website traffic, and maybe more importantly they are adding value for the two main elements of his business -- his advertisers and his readers.

o The Christmas Cash Contest created a 345% increase over participation in the standard find "Little Bill" contest
o Between November 2010 (when he began actively promoting the new website) and December 2010, Web traffic went up 37.5%
o From November 2010 to February 2011, Web traffic went up almost 50%

While Seitz is working to continue to promote Microsoft Tag technology in print ads and to drive contest entries, to date there is no significant increase in usage from November to present with total hits numbering in the low hundreds

Useful links related to this article

Creative Samples
1. Find the Coffee News man contest
2. Find the Coffee News man contest 2
3. Example of the hidden Coffee News man
4. Christmas Cash Contest
5. Coffee News masthead

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