How to Increase Revenue from Lists (Few Lists)

We are a business journal that doesn't produce very many ranked lists each year, but the lists we do produce are popular. How can we make more money on our lists?

Business journals and business magazines across the nation compile ranked lists of the top companies and people in their regions. These lists tend to be very compelling content, generating interest in print, interest online, and revenue from a variety of channels (including print advertising, online advertising, and online data sales.) Some publishers produce 50-100 lists a year, while some publishers produce a much smaller number of larger lists.

Business journals all tend to generate print revenue from lists in a very similar way. First, they sell adjacent advertising to the lists. For example, if a large bank might tend to advertise adjacent to a Largest Banks list. In addition, business journals typically produce a compilation issue of all lists from the year. The Book of Lists tends to be a top print advertising seller,  and can generate 20K to 160K in advertising revenue  for smaller markets, and 250K or more in larger markets. (This is just my general sense from my interactions within the business publishing industry, not a proven benchmark.)

Business journals tend to use one of the following models to generate revenue from lists.

For publishers who produce a limited amount of lists, here are some suggestions for increasing your revenue:
  • Evaluate Your Quantity. It is important to view the success of your few lists as an indicator of market potential. If you produce 10 lists, and all are relatively successful, then you should consider creating more lists.  The more lists and data, the more valuable your lists database becomes. This also increases your space for selling more print advertisements.
  • Know Your Market. Your n#1 buyer of list data online are sales and marketing professionals who are looking for leads. They want to do comparative analysis to know the biggest players in the market; who is growing and who is declining. They also want contact info in order to reach out to decision-makers. Your lists are a unique source of reliable data for sales professionals. Looking at it this way, more list are better.
  • Streamline Workflow The ideal situation is to create an effective workflow so you can produce more lists in less time. The DataJoe platform saves its clients 340 hours a year, on average, compiling their lists. This time can be re-purposed into creating more lists and a deeper database.
  • Try New Models. If you look at most business journals/magazines across the U.S., they are using a basic, Pay-Per-Download model for generating online revenue. However, a growing number of publishers are beginning to implement a Listing Upgrades model along with their Pay-Per-Download model. This can become the best of both worlds, as you are generating revenue both from sales professionals who want the contact info, AND list participants who want their listings to "stick out." See a few examples of a combined model here: 

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