Advice on email newsletters, web and mobile design on tap at 2017 LION Summit

By Matt DeRienzo | Oct. 20, 2017

David Walsh

David Walsh of Walsh Creative, a website developer specializing in WordPress, will be back as a sponsor of the 2017 LION Summit Oct. 26-28 in Chicago, and as a speaker. We asked him for a preview of the advice he'll give on the tech tools a local independent online news publisher needs to be successful, and how they can monetize email newsletters and mobile.

1. How would you rate the average local online news site on user experience?

With mobile dominating the way users are accessing news sites, it’s important for publishers to evaluate their site through a data-driven lens. There are a ton of tools that we use to evaluate what users are doing on a website, what they’re using to access the site, their demographics, date of access, etc. A site owner may have their own tastes and opinions that they want implemented on the site based on who they think is using the site, but the data may tell an entirely different story.

2. What should the baseline best practice be for publishers when it comes to mobile responsiveness or optimization?

It’s no longer an option to have a website that’s not mobile responsive. A typical site is seeing more than half of its traffic coming from mobile devices. One important thing that should not be overlooked is that the advertisers are viewing the site on mobile also, and they don’t want to see their ads buried at the bottom of the page. It’s important to find a healthy balance that delivers content and ads to satisfy both readers and advertisers.

3. What's been most challenging working with small publishers? What's been rewarding?

One of the most challenging things about the independent space is budget constraints. There are so many great ideas that are difficult to implement because a bootstrapped independent site doesn’t have the budget of a corporate conglomerate. It’s one of the great draws of an organization like LION and their LION Summit because it gives publishers and sponsors the ability to openly discuss this and share ideas to help each other as a community.

The most rewarding part of what I do is that I become a part of the publisher’s team. I love receiving emails from the publishers I’m working with telling me about how traffic is up, revenue is up and processes are more efficient. Walsh Creative is a company that I’ve bootstrapped in the same way a publisher builds their business and our growth directly correlates with the growth of the publishers we work with.

4. You'll be speaking about monetization of email newsletters. What's the difference between ads served via email and a typical website ad for the advertiser, reader and publisher?

Yes, I’ll primarily be talking about advertising served via email through a platform like Mailchimp integrated with Broadstreet Ads. The email newsletter ads are even more targeted than the same ad on the website. The newsletter mailing list is a group of readers that have gone a step further and requested to receive proactive emails about new content. It’s a great up-sell opportunity for a publisher to charge an additional fee for an advertiser to be in the daily newsletter. It’s also a low maintenance additional revenue channel that can be built and automated through RSS. As an extra layer of value by using tools like Google Analytics we can determine the best times to send the newsletters to increase traffic on the primary website.

5. What are the most important criteria publishers should evaluate when hiring a developer?

Reliability - It’s important to hire a developer that is reliable. An advertiser doesn’t want to hear that you can’t get in touch with your developer when your site is facing a major outage or problem. Unfortunately our industry is loaded with part-time developers that have jobs or other priorities which put you at the bottom of the list.

Industry Experience - It’s also important to ensure that the developer you’re working with is familiar with robust high traffic online publications. It’s easy to find someone that “knows WordPress” but it’s another thing to find a developer that has worked with a site that gets 500,000 visits, has 50,000 posts and hundreds of thousands of media files. In addition to knowing how to efficiently work with ad servers and other revenue tools.

Reputation - Look into your developers other clients. Are they successful and happy? Go through their portfolio and contact some of their current and past clients and ask them how they like working with the developer. Do your homework.

Communication - One of the most important qualities is to make sure you communicate well with the developer. This is a two way street and it’s difficult to work with someone that you don’t enjoy talking with.

Check out more entries in our 2017 conference blog »