Hudson Valley Magazine is an award-winning monthly lifestyle publication covering the people, places, and activities of the Hudson Valley region of eastern New York for more than 50 years. It’s owned and operated by Today Media, a multiplatform media company with several lifestyle and business titles, events, and custom media operations.
Improving the User Experience
When it was first launched in 2007, Hudson Valley’s website was little more than the magazine’s cover and street address, says Today Media Group Publisher, Mike Martinelli. The site has been through several redesigns and updates since then, but the company knew the site was still lacking. “We knew we were behind better performing websites in terms of the user experience, site speed, revenue opportunity and converting visitors into paid subscribers,” says Martinelli.
Martinelli and his team, which includes Director of Digital Strategy, Greg Mathias, and Associate Digital Publisher, Sabrina Sucato, worked with Nearview Media on the website redesign.
“Our primary goals were to provide a better user experience, drive more advertising revenue and convert more visitors into email subscribers and paid magazine subscribers,” says Nearview Media Founding Partner Eric Shanfelt.
To accomplish this, the team leveraged Nearview Media’s best practices gleaned from over 30 years of digital media experience. They simplified the digital ad model, streamlined the user experience, improved site speed, SEO and discoverability, and implemented proven audience development tactics.
In addition, since two-thirds of Hudson Valley’s website traffic comes from mobile devices, making the site mobile-friendly was critical. “All navigation and layout were designed with a mobile-first approach,” says Mathias. “The site looks and functions well on mobile devices — and it really flies compared to before.”
Large Increases in Website Traffic and Subscriptions
Martinelli and his team are thrilled with the results of the redesign. Page views have more than doubled and unique users are up around 12%. “This is due largely to our new template design and the work we did to make the site more search engine and mobile friendly,” says Sucato.
In addition, email subscriptions are way up and print subscriptions generated from the website have doubled. “We made a deliberate effort to boost paid subscriptions from website visitors by making ‘subscribe’ more prominent throughout the site and introducing other proven tactics,” says Shanfelt.
Sucato says the Hudson Valley editorial team loves the new website design. “The new template is cleaner and much easier to use in terms of setup, with a single column instead of a sidebar,” she says. “Before, there was a long template and anything below the fold wasn’t visible, so we simplified it to increase readability. The new website also integrates better with the email newsletter design.”
Positive Impact on Ad Sales
The feedback from the Hudson Valley sales team and advertisers has also been positive, and advertising revenue is trending up. “Our salespeople say it’s easier to sell ads now,” says Martinelli. “Ads run within the online content instead of along a siderail like they did before, which creates a cleaner and less-cluttered look.”
He also emphasizes the improved performance of sponsored content, which is increasingly important for regional publications like Hudson Valley Magazine. “Sponsored content is integrated into the articles and the site’s design, so we don’t have to rely as heavily on our email list or pay for external promotion,” says Martinelli.
What’s Next for Today Media
Martinelli believes Hudson Valley Magazine accomplished all its main objectives with the new website redesign. “Nearview Media’s leadership and collaboration were critical to our success,” he says.
“We’re now working with them to relaunch some of our other magazines’ websites and seeing similar positive results.” And as soon as Today Media finishes moving to a new circulation management system, they’ll also work with Nearview Media to launch a paywall on Hudson Valley and their other magazine websites.