Paper Brings in $70K with Holiday Ballot

by Tammy Burdick The Roanoke Times

Case Study Highlights

  • Generated $70,000 for the paper
  • Doubled revenue YOY from this promotion
  • Integrated ballot and ecommerce store to serve audience

The Background

The Roanoke Times, part of BH Media Group, is a daily newspaper in Roanoke, Virginia. It’s the newspaper covering 19 counties across southwestern Virginia and one of the best-read papers in the United States, reaching more than 200,000 adults on weekdays and a quarter of a million readers each Sunday. We have been putting a focus on online promotions since 2009.

The Idea

The Roanoke Times ran our first holiday shopping ballot last year to accompany our holiday Gift Guide print special section. Ballots work very well in our market and we were looking for ways to incorporate more of them on our engagement campaigns calendar. The Best of Holiday Shopping ballot turned out to be the perfect way to simultaneously fill out our calendar and engage small and mid-sized retailers leading up to the holiday shopping season.

This year’s Best of Holiday Shopping ballot launched on September 3rd.

Best Of Holiday Shopping Ballot

The Execution

Before launching the Best of Holiday Shopping ballot, we ran several run-of-site “coming soon” ads on our website, as you can see on this screenshot of our homepage:

Roanoke Holiday Ballot

We also promoted in advance of the ballot with online articles and posts to social media. You can see examples of our posts to Pinterest and Facebook below.

Ballot Generated $70K

Facebook Promotion Holiday Ballot

We even created a hashtag for the ballot – #BestofSWVA – as you can see in the branding pictured at the top of the article.

The ballot was pre-seeded with a number of small and mid-sized businesses within our circulation area, although people could also write-in candidates if they didn’t see their favorite on the ballot.

The paper promoted the ballot not only through our own media, but also by encouraging merchants listed on the ballot to promote their listing with customized point-of-purchase displays, including templates for a poster, flier, business card, post card, Facebook cover photo, logos of various sizes, buttons, table tents, and more. You can see some of the templates in the image below.

Ballot Merchant Materials

Our “Promote the Vote” campaign not only got the word out about the ballot, but also served as a lead-generation tool for us to target merchants to reach out to about purchasing upgraded listings on the ballot or print ads in the gift guide special section.

We also included an opt-in on the registration form for our deals program, and we’re planning to feature the finalists and top performers from the ballot in a special holiday-themed deals store to cap off the promotion.

The Results

Last year, the Best of Holiday Shopping ballot brought in $50,000 for the newspaper. But this year, the Best of Holiday Shopping ballot generated $70,000 (and that’s not including any revenue from the associated deals store). Including deals in the calculation, we nearly doubled our revenue from last year!

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