Top 6 trends for more revenue and engagement in 2020

By Matt Coen, President and Co-Founder, Second Street

Every year your media company sets a goal around revenue and engagement for the upcoming year. 2020 is the year to set your goals higher than ever before and feel confident in your ability to achieve — or even surpass — your goals.

We’ve identified six top trends among today’s successful newspapers. If you want your paper to not only survive, but thrive in 2020, you’ll want to make sure these trends are key aspects of your strategy for the coming year.

  1. Turn one-off contests into recurring revenue campaigns.
    Start by determining the top initiatives for your paper — maybe it’s your cutest baby contest or a grocery giveaway. Next, see what it takes to turn these into monthly contests running 9-12 months. Secure a single title sponsor for the entirety of the campaign. Not only is this a time saver for your sales team, but these drive significant sponsorship revenue big enough to matter to your whole company. Check out our complete guide to recurring revenue here for more info!

    2. Engagement drives business opportunities, revenue and audience loyalty.
    For many papers, the idea of engagement is simple: get more readers. But once you get those new audience members, do you have goals for keeping them and turning them into brand advocates and potential revenue? Sit down with your team to determine the true lifetime value of a new audience member. Once everyone understands the value of a new reader, it’s easier to set meaningful goals around them.

    3. Rev up your ballot strategy!
    Whether you’re running multiple ballots a year or have never dabbled in ballots, these are consistently big revenue drivers. Start with maximizing your citywide Readers’ Choice ballot following these steps to turning it into six-figure revenue. But don’t just stop with a citywide ballot. Reinforce your annual strategy with niche and advertiser ballots to tap into ballot benefits all year long.

    4. You don’t need sponsors or even prizes to be successful.
    We often hear the hesitation to invest in an engagement strategy because it’s costly. However, creating meaningful promotions and email programs doesn’t need to rely on sponsors or prizes at all to be successful. Maybe your prize for being chosen as Athlete of the Week is a write-up in the paper. In many cases, recognition by your brand is a prize on its own. See how Sauk Valley Media has grown its email list by 2,900 percent without a prize!

    5. Train your team on advertiser lead-gen campaigns.
    It’s hard to grow your revenue if you’re bringing the same ideas back to the same advertisers time after time. In 2020, invest in training your team on how to create the perfect campaign for every advertiser in your market. When you understand what matters to an advertiser, you can create an impactful campaign to drive measurable results and leads. See how this quiz bundle turned into $250,000 for a local eyecare provider.

    6. Email and promotions create a powerful closed loop of engagement.
    If you want to grow your email database, promotions are the best way to do it. When compared with companies using widgets and promotions, our data shows promotions drove 87 percent of the new opt-ins. Beyond promotions, creating quality emails to deliver meaningful, relevant content will have your audience excited to receive your messages and encouraged to forward to others. If you want to drive revenue and engagement success in 2020, it’s more important than ever to have a clear strategy around both promotions and email. While good on their own, together these make a powerful combination that will drive overall success for your newspaper.

Matt Coen is the president and co-founder of Second Street, a leading provider of private-label online promotions platforms and partner success services for media companies based in St. Louis, Mo. He can be reached at (314) 880-4902 or

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