3 issues that are torching your digital revenue

Many business leaders in the publishing industry find themselves caught in a paradox. They recognize that their technology needs to meet their business goals, yet the lack of digital performance is the very reason they hesitate to invest in a redesign. It feels imprudent to invest when you’re not generating revenue.

This hesitation comes at a significant price. An underperforming website can lead to missed opportunities, increased costs, and a diminished competitive edge.

Here are three critical areas where your website’s poor performance is holding back your revenue potential.

1. Poor audience engagement on your website

Your website is more than just a digital media source. It’s the foundation of your brand and the primary channel through which you engage with your audience. As reader expectations scale, your ability to meet their need for a high-performing, user-friendly website is critical.

If your website suffers from low performance or breakages, it harms your company’s reputation — and revenue. While your core readers might stick around because they need what you produce, new audiences may opt for other media sources, preventing you from growing your business and possibly driving growth for your competitors.

2. Your team is hindered by their CMS

A cumbersome content management system (CMS) can fly under the radar as a costly website mistake. On the surface, a clunky CMS doesn’t directly impact the look and feel of a public-facing site. If an editor struggles for 20 minutes to publish an article. Everything will look how it’s supposed to, even if it was an arduous process. Likewise, developer productivity, whether in-house or in a partner organization, is driven downwards by hard-to-manage, slow, or outdated systems. And if you are in the business of breaking news, you will find it hard to win the race to be first.

Even if your audience is none the wiser, the quality of your CMS is directly tied to your business goals. Unproductive writers and editors suffer twice because of poor technology tools — first it slows them down, then it distracts and annoys them. Talent is a key cost driver for most publishers, and technology should prioritize productivity for your staff.

Think of it this way: how much more could you publish with a reliable, efficient CMS that’s a breeze for your team to use? A dependable, efficient CMS tool could empower your team to create more content at a consistent publishing cadence. And more content means more revenue opportunities.

3. Loss of strategic flexibility

When you are constantly coping with urgent, tactical issues, it’s difficult to make headway on long-term strategic plans. What’s your biggest goal? Attracting better direct-sold advertisers? Creating or boosting a reader revenue program? A great technology platform lifts all aspects of your strategy. For one, it’s easier to attract talent. In an industry where everyone talks, folks know which media enterprises use advanced digital systems — and which don’t. Technology professionals, analysts, salespeople, and journalists want to work for a winning team. You can actually attract quality talent with quality tech stacks, especially in technology-adjacent roles. People want to work for publishing companies with systems that make their jobs easier and are known to be on the cutting edge.

Conversely, if you are constantly putting out fires, the business cannot make headway on its bigger plans and your team members cannot accomplish their own goals either.

In other words, don’t underestimate the power your CMS has to drive revenue and attract revenue drivers. Expertly engineered websites can support your organization’s success as a winning team.

Invest in your publishing site and improve business fundamentals

Your website issues will create a vicious cycle. As your website fails to meet expectations, stakeholders divert resources away from digital investments, leading to — you guessed it — further declines in performance and revenue. 

Meanwhile, competitors prioritizing their digital presence continue to gain market share, talent, and mindshare ahead of your business. 

Let’s do some number-crunching to illustrate our point. 

A media company with $10 million in topline revenue might need to spend $300,000 to rebuild its website. Company leadership is hesitant to invest that money upfront, so it decides to invest instead in stabilizing its old platform over the next year.

But if it costs just $25,000 a month to cope with the headaches of the old platform — that’s akin to two full-time software developers in most organizations, never mind the harder-to-measure productivity costs to platform users — they’ll have made incremental gains at best.

And what about lost revenue opportunities? This, too, is contextually dependent on the organization, but let’s imagine that it results in 5% less revenue as unrealized growth and increased churn —  lower engagement and fewer conversions. (We have seen far worse!) That’s a $500,000 opportunity cost, driving the total cost of the “wait and see” strategy to a conservative $800,000.

Now imagine that it takes six months to rebuild the site and get the team fully productive on it. Again, this is realistic for a mid-sized media company. If it costs $10,000 per month to keep the old platform stable and $300,000 to rebuild it, the total rebuild cost is $360,000, and the unrealized gains drop to $250,000. The cost of the rebuild is thus $610,000. Aside from the fact that $310,000 of this is a sunk cost, this still results in better financial performance in year one, even before productivity-related intangibles! Subsequent years can see clear gains and put the organization on a digital growth trajectory.

A website rebuild isn’t a luxury — it’s a necessity 

A website rebuild can transform your digital presence, engage your audience, reduce costs, improve revenue, and drive margin expansion. Investing in a modern, user-friendly website means you’ll be better equipped to attract and retain readers, streamline your content creation process, and maximize your online revenue potential. It’s a critical strategic investment — not a cost center. 

Are you curious about how Alley can help you break free from the digital publishing paradox and position your business for long-term success? Connect with our team.