The Signal Brings in $75K with an Online Ballot Promotion

by Vince Johnson Forsyth County News

Background

The Signal, part of Morris Multimedia, is a 8,500 circulation daily newspaper in Santa Clarita, California. We have been running successful online promotions since 2008.

The Idea

The Signal had run a “Best Of Santa Clarita Valley” ballot every year for the past 12 years. Each year, the ballot was put in the newspaper and readers could mail in or bring in their votes. With that approach, we averaged roughly 2,000 votes per year. In 2013, we wanted to use new online tools to increase revenue and participation.

The Execution

The Signal ran our 12th Annual “Best of Santa Clarita Valley” ballot from July 1st through July 23rd. We used a combination of print and online tactics to promote the ballot. We sold upgraded listings and online ads to local merchants listed on the ballot. The upgraded listings included the merchant’s logo, an interactive map showing their location, and links to their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media pages. Here’s a sample upgraded listing:

best-of-SCV-300x250

wicalls-upgraded-listing

The online ads were sold for $149 each and remained up through the entire three-week voting period. The Signal also sold online banner ads during the voting period for $299 each and promoted the ballot in print and online with video, Facebook, and emails.

Below are some kickoff ads from the double truck we ran in the newspaper. We sold each 3 col x5″ ad for $265 per print run, and we offered a total of 3 runs.

signal-print-ad-141x300

Once the voting was finished and the winners were chosen, we published a 72-page print special section. Many of the winning merchants purchased ads in this section to thank the community for voting for them. We also sold additional upgraded listings to the winners that were posted on the Winners Page on our website. These post-voting upgraded listings were sold for $199 and will remain online until the 2014 “Best of Santa Clarita Valley” ballot begins. Here’s an example:

2013-Best-of-the-SCV

Online ads were also sold for $499 on the Winners Page and will remain online throughout the year.

The Results

The online voting and integrated promotional strategy that we used to promote the ballot proved to be extremely successful. After averaging 2,000 votes per year during the 12 years we ran the paper ballot, this year’s “Best Of Santa Clarita Valley” online ballot brought in more than 115,000 votes. The ballot also generated more than $75,000 in combined revenue, which represented a significant increase from previous years. Of this, $60,000 came from the print special section.

Why It Worked

  • The integrated promotional package that The Signal offered was appealing to advertisers since they received not only ads in the paper, but also exposure on our website, via email, and on Facebook.
  • The upgraded listings we sold allowed us to capture more revenue from businesses who were listed on the ballot.
  • The upgraded listings we sold to the winners brought in even more revenue even after the voting was over.

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