When You Get Big, You Need to Get Smaller

I hope you won’t mind if I go through the thought process behind some changes you’ll be seeing around here in the very near future.

It may well turn out that what we’re embarking upon is a pretty boneheaded idea. It might also be a stroke of genius. Who knows? I’ll find out when you give me your feedback. And hey… don’t hold back on me, OK?

Here’s the problem we are trying to solve:

In our ongoing effort to address the needs of our online marketing audience, we’ve had to offer more and more content that is increasingly granular. You go to the home page, and you see anywhere from six to nine articles on a variety of topics every single day.

A while back, we started offering people the ability to subscribe to the columns that they don’t want to miss, and that has worked out very well.

We found that in several areas like email marketing our readers’ needs became more and more specialized. And we’ve gone ahead and recruited specialists in the topics our readers have asked for.

But in this drive to provide ALL the information that our readers need to stay up to speed, we can and probably will be in a situation where we’re offering up as many as 15 to 20 columns every business day.

Can you imagine how ClickZ’s home page could become overwhelming at that point?

So here’s how we plan to address this and we sure would appreciate it if you would let us know if this will work for you.

First, next week we’re going to roll out something that our readers have long been begging for: a weekly ClickZ Executive Summary. Subscribers to this text-only, email-only publication will get executive summaries of the vast majority of that week’s ClickZ columns each summary being about 100 to 125 words long. This publication will be emailed out every Friday morning.

So if you’re too busy to keep up with our content, you can get a weekly summary of all major articles sent to you every Friday. Links are, of course, provided for those who want to read the full text, have it emailed to them, or print the full article.

That will hopefully take care of those for whom time and too many emails is a factor.

Second, there are those on the other end of the spectrum who are highly specialized and need only specific types of content that we offer. They need all the information and all the articles on a particular topic, and if they’re looking for content on email marketing, they don’t want to have to slog through articles about media buying, site publishing, or rich media to get there.

We anticipated this a while back when we reserved domain names like emailmarketer.com, sitemarketer.com, affiliatemarketer.com, wirelessmarketer.com, brandmarketer.com, and mediaplanner.com.

For people who want to ensure that they get ONLY information about site publishing, for example, they can either go to sitemarketer.com or subscribe to it. What they will end up getting are the full text articles relevant to site publishers: my weekly articles on Profitable Online Publishing, Richard Hoy’s brilliant series on Small-Business Advice, Paul Bruemmer’s ongoing series on Search Engine Optimization, along with two others that we will be announcing soon.

So site publishers who are starving for information will feel like they’ve died and gone to heaven.

We’ll be doing the same thing with content relevant to email marketers, media planners and buyers, e-merchants, those interested in wireless marketing, etc. And if we haven’t mentioned your particular forte, let us know we might have it on our drawing board.

Phase one, which is being rolled out in the next 30 days, will involve full-text articles being sent to those audiences.

Phase two, which we are working on now, will involve extensive resource directories for each one of these vertical portals.

You may be wondering, “What will happen to ClickZ’s home page and ClickZ Today, where I can look through ALL the articles you are offering?”

No change. You can still get ClickZ content that way. We’ll just have to work hard to make sure our design doesn’t overwhelm you visually with the extensive selection of articles every day. So if the above approach doesn’t appeal to you, no biggie we’ll still have the same ClickZ just the way you like it.

Some have asked, “Will you be losing the ClickZ brand by going to all these other names and domains?” I can assure you that it will be absolutely clear to you, whether you are on emailmarketer.com or any of the others, that you are most definitely on the ClickZ Network. Not to worry.

I’ve addressed the needs of our readers in this explanation but haven’t mentioned the other audience we address the advertisers and sponsors.

We need to keep both our readers and our sponsors happy or we lose, bigtime.

What this does for our sponsors is offer up a series of very tightly focused audiences, with very little waste. A FloNetwork, MessageMedia, or Digital Impact can target their advertising dollars in sponsoring content that appears on emailmarketer.com and know it’s a pretty clean buy.

An account rep speaking to a marketing director as a potential advertiser can discuss sponsorship opportunities chosen from a very clearly defined shopping list rather than have to show them a bewildering list of column titles that could confuse the most sophisticated online marketer.

So, in a sense, we’re trying to make life easier for everybody.

You might be up against the same situation: Your site covers an area that is becoming increasingly granular, and it’s getting harder and harder to stay relevant, keep the content straight, and keep your story consistent and understandable.

Our approach is to break ClickZ down into manageable pieces that are far more digestible for all involved.

This might be something you should consider as well.

Hopefully, you know that in this ongoing case study called ClickZ, we’ll let you know if it worked or not.

We’d sure appreciate it if you would drop us a note, and let us know what you think about these new offerings.

And let us know if this is an approach that might work for your publishing operation as well.

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