4 Carrots to Entice Your Print Readers to Go Online

Increasing percentages of populations around the world get their news online rather than from print publications, according to a study of over 10,000 people by Oxford University.

Consuming news online is natural for Millennials.
Consuming news online is natural for Millennials.

And while most people think of younger adults and digital natives as the ones consuming their news online (which they do), older adults increasingly going digital as well. The Oxford study found that 32% of those aged 45 to 54 prefer online news sources versus print (favored by 11%), and even in the 55+ age group, online sources were preferred over print by 21% to 18% respectively.

The study also found that European countries tend to be more strongly attached to print than readers in the US. Other data from the US supports this finding: Huffington Post now has a larger reach than The New York Times and The Washington Post. Enticing your print readers to go online can help your bottom line. When you offer a number of ”carrots” to entice your readers to utilize your website, you improve advertising revenues from the web and draw attention to online income streams, like premium content, e-commerce shops, and job boards. Here are 4 carrots you can use to get your print readers to use your website more.

Carrot 1: Offer Some Content Exclusively Online

Making some content exclusively available for online readership is a no-brainer in some cases. For example, the highly lauded ”Snowfall” feature by The New York Times in late 2012 took advantage of story presentation types that could only be done online, such as video, pop-up graphics, and slideshows. Not every publication has the budget for a feature as elaborate as ”Snowfall,” but offering certain content exclusively online can be a smart move by just about any publication. Slideshows, videos, and maps that can be navigated and explored are all exciting ways to help tell a story in ways that print alone can’t.

Carrot 2: Include Videos in Your Content Repertoire

Video content is used online by digital news sites and trade publication websites of all sizes and all budgets. While some news organizations devote healthy budgetary support to online video, virtually any publication can include some video content, even if it’s only a few minutes of the town Christmas parade, or a particularly compelling ”buzzer beater” at a local basketball game. Video shouldn’t be seen as a substitute for high quality text and / or graphic content, but it is increasingly expected by readers, and has a place in almost every type of online publication.

Carrot 3: Place In-Depth Versions of Content Online

Your publication can go into much more depth online, where you're not bound by the number of column inches available.
Your publication can go into much more depth online, where you’re not bound by the number of column inches available.

Your print publication allows only a certain number of column inches, and expansion has to be done carefully to keep print costs under control. Sometimes you simply cannot go into as much depth as you want in your print publication. That’s why many publications with both print and web presences elect to place more in-depth content online, so that readers with a deeper interest in a story or topic can fulfill their interest conveniently. Not every print newspaper, magazine or trade publication reader is interested in a 10,000-word long-form piece on a newsworthy story or a particular topic, and placing this content online satisfies both print and digital readers.

Carrot 4: Hang Out Live, then Archive

Some organizations have started using Google+ hangouts as an alternative to the traditional webinar. These events can be aired live to the public, or to subscribers and can be archived on a publication’s YouTube channel so that people who missed the live version can enjoy the content, and those who participated have an easy way to replay it. Google+ hangouts are essentially a video chat service that allows an unlimited number of people to join your conference for free. It can be used for a simple video chat session, or it can be used to showcase a local artist, musician, or comedian, or for airing and archiving live interviews. Last year, a software company called Sage used Google+ hangouts for a presentation on the fiscal cliff, automatically archiving the presentation on its YouTube channel, and it ended up significantly boosting the channel’s view numbers.

There are many good reasons to entice your print newspaper, magazine, or trade publication’s readers to your website. Some content, like embedded interactive features, video, slideshows, infographics, and learning tools like Cary and Michael Huang’s Scale of the Universe Tool do not lend themselves to print publication. Encouraging print readers to use your website not only lets your readers experience different types of content, it helps with audience and revenue development. Enthusiasm for your website helps your web-based revenue streams like sponsored features and custom job boards grow and thrive, and helps you decrease some of your dependence on shrinking traditional advertising revenues.

Photo Credits: stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net, photostock / freedigitalphotos.net

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