In Video Q&A, Bailey Offers Blueprint for Selling

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"We have to get better at selling, not just relying on Google and Facebook and flowing with their tide," said Matt Bailey, founder of SiteLogic and a best-selling author. "We need to be much more aggressive about creating new channels. And getting better at selling when we're in those channels, or even taking what Google and Facebook give us but do better in presenting the value, developing leads, [providing] better communications—all the activities we used to do before relying on Google and Facebook."

Bailey, who will deliver a keynote at the Nov. 14-16 Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) in Fort Lauderdale, was responding to a few recent developments: (Excellent, short video interviews of Bailey and seven other BIMS speakers can now be watched on the BIMS website.)

  • In August, Google announced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) would be going beyond "Top Stories" into the main organic mobile search results. This week it said that AMP is now available globally.
  • Facebook Instant Articles allows publishers to optimize their content so readers can access it instantly. Larger publishers remain excited, but smaller publishers are still unsure about sending people to Facebook to consume their content.
  • Apple News recently said it will allow publishers to sell subscriptions through the app. Readers who use iOS 10 can subscribe to 14 publications through Apple News and pay through their iTunes account. Apple will collect 30% of the revenue from new subscribers and 15% from renewals—and collect the subscriber data.

Each of those has plusses and minuses, but as Bailey said, need to be approached with specific goals in mind. Here's more of Bailey's video interview: 

What are publishers missing on?
Bailey: I've seen too many businesses and publishers attempt to bridge into a new trend without a framework in place to handle that trend. So when you focus on knowing on what works, why it works and how to leverage that knowledge for better monetization, you can develop a framework to evaluate and develop a strategy for a trend. 

What's the best way to get new subscribers?
Bailey: Search and paid search are still the primary lead generators for most publishers. Study after study shows that visitors from search who become subscribers have a consistently higher lifetime value than the average subscriber. Focus on areas that work, [chart the] customer journey, then develop subscribers beyond what they ask for—add value and leverage them to become your best sales people in the field. 

Can you explain that more.
Bailey: Sales guru Bob Burg said that you have to train your customers to sell you. Your loyalty and referral programs should train your subscribers to communicate your value to others in a short, efficient, memorable way. In that way, you're training your subscribers to sell you and explain who you are to other people. 

What's the biggest problem with publisher websites?
Bailey: Eighty percent of people who come to a website are scanning and they're looking for visual cues that let them know they're in the right place, and those same visual cues need to point them to the answer. The call for action has to take priority. In sales I was taught to get three no's before I give up. Telemarketers go by that rule as well. I like to ask people how many times do you ask to someone to do something on your web pages. At the very least I want to have some kind of obvious method for gaining email addresses. Whatever makes me the most money, that's going to be the most prominent, most visually appealing, or visually jarring thing on the site. 

What's our biggest mistake with mobile?
Bailey: Many publishers are seeing mobile open rates dominate over desktop. Of course, look at your analytics and see what devices are being used to view the emails you send out. But I'm always surprised to see well-developed mobile emails drive to an obviously desktop-designed landing page. It's too small, doesn't fit and won't convert mobile users. So test your emails for mobile-first delivery but also test your landing pages to see that they're well designed for mobile delivery.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…