The hidden power of transactions

Online shopping ()

Dominik Grau and Ebner Verlag CEO Gerrit Klein will speak on transforming a 200-year old publisher to become a mobile first powerhouse at the FIPP World Congress Toronto, Canada. The Congress takes place from 13-15 October 2015. You can register here and see the provisional programme here.

At Ebner everything we do must be transaction oriented. From a publisher’s point of view all of our content is supposed to generate some kind of transaction – be it newsletter subscribers or buyers of our products. We provide the information that our special-interest audience wants, no matter what the platform or media channel might be. We use numerous formats, channels and products to fulfill our audiences‘ needs. Therefore we not only offer typical content products but seminars, webinars, special services, software, databases, special travel offers and even tools and equipment. We are interested in what our target groups want and need – and that is what we try to give them, by means of transcations triggered by content. Commerce based on content.


1. The new Ebner strategy

In 2012 we redefined our website strategy. We wanted every piece of content to be measurable, we wanted to know what a news is worth (in money, audience or reputation), our management wanted to have the ability to plan content based on the impact, not based on how the editors think the content should be. That’s why we established a new workflow for every digital content that we publish. Here’s how it works.


A) Finding the largest possible audience

We utilize search engines to find new audiences for our content, so do many other publishers. Yet our system is different. We don’t just utilize search engines, we build keyword universes for each website with thousands of keywords and rank them based on what readers are looking for on a longterm base. Then we rank them by competitors, then by attractiveness and calculate the likeliness of achieving a large share of page 1 ranks. And then we start to write our content. So, in the best possible scenario the content we produce matches exactly what the audience is looking for at any given time. News are not as attractive as evergreen content, so we focus our efforts on evergreens and other useful formats.


B) Converting readers to email subscribers

Once our SEO strategy is in place we start working on the next step, converting the new readers to e-mail subscribers. We do so with a pletora of engagement elements and conversion modules. Why is that so important? Go to or any other similar digital consulting agency, you’ll see dozens of free reports and strategies that will tell you why email subscriber are the real gold mine in the digital world. We focus on converting our unique users to e-mail subscribers. By the way, this is also where print comes into play again; it gets re-used for our websites to attract users with very special questions and problems. This is possible since most of these questions and problems are of long lasting interest to our readers and therefore not of an ephemeral character (i.e. news).


C) Selling paid content

Every e-mail subscriber will get our weekly newsletters, some will receive our daily newsletters while others only will receive marketing messages. Whatever they read, our email content only has one goal: building a relationship with our readers to sell paid content. We usually try to convert 10 per cent of our email uniques to paid subscribers. Some of our websites have almost mastered this aggressive strategy, others will need one or two more years. Yet one effect is visible: as soon as we implemented the New Ebner conversion strategy our editorial schedules changed dramatically. No longer do we write for the sake of writing, we write to convert, and we use new content to sell paid services and subscriptions. We also use our e-mail database to sell apps or paid downloads across our website portfolio.


D) Building scalable reader revenues

Our subscriptions are priced anywhere between €20 and €200 per year depending on the audience we serve. Yet they only are one of the monetization steps. There are more, and far more expensive, services or products that we offer. We’ve found that paid subscribers whom we’ve converted via our website-to-email elements are very loyal. They willingly accept offers for large events, small seminars, digital webinars, books or other ecommerce items. One of our magazines offers seminars priced at €1000 per person and sells out almost every such seminar. Another Ebner property organizes enthusiast events in different cities and sells out every event – to sponsors and guests alike. The most successful teams when it comes to converting paid subscribers to more expensive products are two B2C groups. Combined they have grown their ecommerce business by 300 per cent since 2013 and will soon see the largest part of the net profit stemming from ecommerce. 


2. And what about print?

You’d think, just like many of our competitors, that Ebner has abandoned print to grow digital. You’d be wrong. It’s the other way round: print plays an important part, in fact, a very important part. Print builds brands, print is the base on which the reputation of our brands are built. Ebner is a 200-year old media company. Print has been the very foundation of all of Ebner’s businesses. That’s why we have integrated print products carefully into New Ebner. Print comes into play once we have converted website uniques to e-mail newsletters. Then we start offering print, either single products or subscriptions. Once we have converted e-mail subscribers to paid print subscribers we offer them premium print products such as expensive books, entire collections, whitepapers or educational products. And it works. Our readers love print. One of our units regularly sells out 600 EUR books. Print has no future? Think again. 


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