Why Running a Ballot Online Won’t Take Away from Your Print Revenue

by Julie Foley Second Street

With digital ballot tools you can still reach your traditional print audience, but also reach much wider audience.

When The Signal, a small-market newspaper in Santa Clarita Valley, California, augmented their long-standing print ballot with an online version, they increased the number of votes they received from 2,000 to more than 115,000. Plus, they increased the revenue generated from the ballot by 20%, bringing in a total of $75,000 – including $15,000 from digital assets alone! (See the full case study.) The Kent Reporter experienced spectacular results when they supplemented their print ballot with an online version. With new online sponsorship opportunities, the paper increased their revenue by 43% – without seeing a decline in single-copy sales. (Find out more.)

As you can see, when you move a print ballot online, you don’t lose the revenue opportunities you’ve always had in print – you gain many more. While you can find a full list of ways to make money with ballots in this article, let’s take a closer look at some of the ways augmenting your print ballot with an online ballot can drive better results in terms of audience growth, revenue growth, and lead generation:

  • Increase print ad sales. Advertisers are inclined to purchase more and larger print ads in the follow-up special section (and you can charge more for these ads) if they know that the audience they can reach with those ads will be huge. This is what The Signal experienced when they added an online ballot, and what enabled them to increase the print revenue from their winners special section. Think about how much effective your pitch can be when you say that your participation has grown from 2,000 votes to 115,000 votes! Your advertisers will appreciate that – more than ever – you are offering a can’t-miss opportunity.
  • Forsyth Ballot Special Section

  • Generate new leads. Write-ins on the online ballot can turn into new leads for your sales team to target about not only sponsorship and enhanced listing opportunities for your Reader’s Choice, but also about other opportunities throughout the year. While it is possible to accept write-ins on a print ballot, that involves a lot of labor-intensive manual data entry. With an online ballot, you can instantly create and sort a spreadsheet to hand out to the sales team.
  • Maintain single-copy sales. As The Kent Reporter showed, adding an online ballot won’t necessarily cause a decline in your single-copy print sales. While some papers are moving their ballots entirely online, others with longstanding Reader’s Choice programs – like The Kent Reporter – continue to print a ballot in the paper as well. Even if you do decide to discontinue your print ballot, the savings from the efficiency of moving to an online-only model – combined with the new digital revenue opportunities – more than make up for any lost print revenue.
  • St Louis Magazine Burger Ballot

  • Add digital revenue. When you run a ballot online, you can sell category sponsorships, online banner ads, and enhanced listings in addition to everything you sell in print. (Learn more about the possibilities.)
  • Collect valuable demographic data. With an online ballot, you can put up a registration page that people need to fill out before they can cast their votes. In this way, you can collect the names, email addresses, ages, genders, and more from everyone that enters. You can then use this demographic data to gain valuable insight into the makeup of your audience, which can help you more effectively target future promotions. Find out how to make the most of this data.)

The reason that an online ballot won’t take away from your print revenue opportunities all comes back to audience. After all, what are you selling when you’re selling a print ad or an online category sponsorship? That’s right. Audience. And when your audience grows, everything else can too.

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