Getting classifieds noticed on your website

January 2, 2013

By Ken Blum | Butterfly Publications

Permit me to use a worn cliché recited by my grandmother, and my grandmother’s grandmother, and my grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother.
 They all rode high and proud in their rocking chairs and reminisced about various Blum family mishaps that were as challenging as: “Finding a needle in a haystack.”
I can’t think of words that better describe some basic and important information or services newspapers provide, but hide on their websites like they’re the formula for Coca Cola or the locale of Jimmy Hoffa’s final resting place.
For example:
• The location of the paper—the town or county, even the country where it’s located. Go to (fictitious, so don’t spend time looking it up) and there it is: a glamorous home page with the “Bugle” nameplate. But nowhere on that page is there any mention of where the Bugle is located—Bavaria, Bulgaria, the Bahamas?
 Guess the site designers figured that 4 billion people with access to the Internet know the Bugle is located in Deep River Gulch, MT, USA.
But, wait, you may say. Just click on the “contact” link on the home page. Usually, it’s buried in 2-point type at the bottom of that page.
Use granny’s trifocals to find it, and you’re taken to the page. There you’ll find the phone number, maybe staff names and their e-mail addresses but, where’s the paper’s street or mailing address? Guess the site designers figured everyone knows the Bugle office is at 181818 Trail South Marlboro Drive between Sally’s Hair Salon, and the Esso Station behind the McDonald’s.
Granny Blum sez: Sonny, use yer horse sense and put the whole address, phone number (include area code) and general e-mail address below the nameplate on the home page.
Or, on the business end:
• The Bugle runs all the personal classified ads appearing in the print edition on its website. The supposed goal is to offer a vast Internet audience the opportunity to buy the real estate, autos or widgets offered by the Bugle’s classified advertisers.
 But visitors to the site have to figure out on their own that they need to click on the teeny “Classified” link on the home page to find these ads. Other than that, there’s no explanation the ads even exist on the site.
Granny Blum’s sez: Sonny, skedaddle and run a block ad near the top of the home page that features a “classified ad of the week” and a link in large type that takes the reader to the page(s) of classified ads. Or …
• The Bugle spent a bundle of dough setting up an option whereby readers can subscribe to a PDF or PDF-like e-edition of the paper, a perfect option for out-of-town subscribers or an amenity at a minimal price for print subscribers.
But visitors to the site have to figure out on their own they need to click on the teeny “Subscribe” link on the home page to sign up for the e-edition. Other than that, there’s no explanation the e-edition exists.
Granny Blum sez: Sonny, get off yer high horse and let readers know how they can subscribe to the e-edition. Put a beaut of a banner ad on the home page with a brief explanation and a link to the subscription page that has more details and an easy way to sign up.
And Granny Blum gets even more upset when she reads the print edition of the Bugle and there’s no information about how to subscribe or renew a subscription; no mention on the classified page that the ads also appear on the website; no address, phone number or e-mail information for the paper, except buried somewhere in the masthead.
 It gets her dander up to no end.
 So, please, for Granny’s and my sake, don’t haste or make waste—in print or on the Web let ’em know who you are and what you offer so, as Granny sez, it’s “Plain as the nose on your face.” © Ken Blum 2013

Ken Blum is the publisher of Butterfly Publications, an advising/speaking/publishing business dedicated to improving the profitability and quality of community newspapers. He puts out a free e-mail newsletter 40 times a year titled Black Inklings. It features nuts and bolts ideas to improve revenue and profits at hometown papers. To subscribe to the newsletter or contact Ken, e-mail him at; or phone to 330-682-3416.

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