Make Money More Easily and Efficiently WIth Readers' Choice Ballots


All kinds of print publications can find success with readers’ choice ballots: an alt weekly drove $170,000 revenue with an online ballot and two small-market papers increased their revenue by 38% or more. Here, Shweiki Media teams up with Matt Coen of Second Street Promotions Lab to present a tutorial in which Blair Barna, advertising director and co-owner at Charleston City Paper, Alesia Humphries, Chief of Digital Sales for The Signal, and Bonnie Markham, advertising manager for the Alton Telegraph, share their best practices and tips on how to use digital tools to increase revenue with readers’ choice ballots.

1. Ballots drive revenue

Ballots can generate revenue a number of different ways – with enhanced listings, category sponsorships, online ads, print ads, and even with live events. These models can be combined to maximize revenue, but it isn’t necessary to use all of them. One should utilize the combination that works best for the market.

2. Ballots engage your audience

Ballots are naturally viral, and incorporating digital is like adding gas to the flame. Running a ballot online helps publications reach a broader audience and makes it even easier for people to interact and participate in the ballot. This engagement also helps to build an email database and generate hot leads for advertisers.

3. Online ballots are efficient

Anyone who has been involved with ballots over the years is well aware of the pain points and the time involved. Ballots are, after all, big endeavors. However, just running a readers’ choice online saves time, money and resources, since ballots do not need to be counted and write-ins do not need to be sorted by hand.

4. Niche ballots are a way to expand the opportunities

One can also leverage readers’ choice success and expand the ballot program throughout the year with niche ballots. These are more targeted initiatives which will help publications engage more targeted audiences and advertisers.  Publications can even align them with other niche initiatives to generate even more revenue. The Signal made $4K in all-digital revenue with a high-school football ballot!

Ready to optimize your own Readers’ Choice ballot?

Download The Voter’s Choice Playbook, which is designed to help you get started. In it, there are sections on how to plan, sell, and promote ballots, along with plenty of case studies.

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Matt Coen

Matt Coen is the Co-founder and President of Second Street, the leading provider of online promotions platforms and partner success services for the media industry. Coen also teaches entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2006, Coen Co-Wrote and Produced the award winning documentary Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore? Coen began his career in media technology at Pulitzer Technologies as Director of New Business and Product Development. Coen is a native of Rhode Island who loves spending time with his family, sports, politics, travel, and serving on a number of community boards.
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