Q&A: Internet Marketing and Publishing Consultant Mina Lux
In her previous position as managing director and vice president, online, for Scientific American, Mina Lux led the iconic magazine’s digital initiative for the past seven years. She recently left the company to strike out to pursue a consulting career.
Prior to joining Scientific American, Lux was senior vice president of online marketing at Working Woman Network — which has since become WorkingMother.com — where she developed the site’s Web presence from the ground up, building traffic, membership and online sales. She also was vice president of the former DSI Interactive Marketing, at Doubleday Interactive. The division merged into a division called Doubleday Entertainment, which became part of Bookspan back in 1999. As of September 2007, after a bunch of mergers, the division is now part of Bertelsmann Direct North America.
While working as director of marketing for USATODAY.com, she was credited with elevating the site from the No. 3-ranked general-interest news site to No. 1, overtaking CNN.com and MSNBC.com in less than four months.
eM+C asked Lux about about some of her past endeavors, as well as if she could share some insight about Internet marketing and publishing with our readers.
eM+C: I understand you were instrumental in launching a multimedia site called 60-Second Science when you were at Scientific American. Can you tell us about that?
Mina Lux: 60-Second Science began as a podcast and an extension to our successful 20-minute audio podcast product called Science Talk. The idea was to launch a quick daily science segment that would be informative yet entertaining, and targeted at people interested in science but who had little time. It was a success, and very quickly our podcast products combined were bringing us over 2.2 million monthly downloads.
The success of the audio product lead us to look into launching the Web site www.60SecondScience.com. The Web site was launched as an audio, video and blog site aiming at a younger demographic than the core brand — Scientific American — while staying true to the audio brand. We launched the site in less than eight weeks on a shoestring budget with full entrepreneurial energy and momentum. It was a lot of fun.
eM+C: Why did you decide to use Web 2.0 tools like podcasts, video and blogs for the site?
ML: We believed that in order for us to be effective, we must take advantage of the strength of the digital media. With video, we are able to present complex ideas in an entertaining manner. With audio, we are able to deliver portable science with the wide MP3 install base. With blogs, we are able to have a young, hip voice reporting on complex ideas on all aspects of science while still making it a quick, entertaining read.
eM+C: Do you find these tools help attract or retain customers? Do you have any general ROI numbers from them?
ML: The traffic numbers for 60-Second Science are very preliminary. As the site was only launched at the end of October, we look to have at least three months worth of preliminary data before we draw any conclusions.
eM+C: Do you offer these tools on SA’s main site?
ML: We do, in fact, offer all these tools and more at Sciam.com. We do syndicate all 60-Second Science video and audio products to www.Sciam.com. In addition to the site’s own blogs, we also syndicate some of the blogs as well.
Most importantly, Sciam.com offers an even more comprehensive Web 2.0 environment than 60 Second Science. Among a long list of features, we have a fully integrated community, allowing our community members to comment on every single piece of content — whether it is our news, feature articles, video or slide shows. We also offer a mobile product to bring information to our audience’s finger tips.
eM+C: I understand that when you were the director of marketing for USATODAY.com, you were credited with elevating the site from the No. 3-ranked general-interest news site to No. 1. How did you do it?
ML: At that time, USA Today had more than 2 million daily readers, but research showed that most of them did not know that we had a Web site. We needed to let the readers know that not only can they get the content they love from print on the site, but also even more. We were reporting as the news happened and needed to communicate that to our readers. The idea was, “What if we launch a banner-looking ad on the front of every section, including the front page of the newspaper?” A banner immediately implies “the Web.” We used that space for our Web message as well as for advertisers.
Within weeks of launching this ad space, we were the No. 1 news site online. It is important for one to leverage one product for the growth of another.
eM+C: Do you have any Web 2.0 tips or best practices you can share with our readers?
ML: Make sure that the tools are simple to use and remain true to your brand, strategy and mission. If the audience doesn’t get it or finds the barrier to participation too great, it will not work. Keep it simple.
Hear Mina Lux speak at the Publishing Business Conference & Expo, scheduled for March 10-12 at the Marriott Marquis in New York. The conference is produced by Publishing Executive magazine, a Target Marketing Group publication and a sister publication to eM+C. Mina will be speaking on a panel at a session titled “Web Usability Strategies for Profit” on March 10. Other panelists include David Drimer, associate publisher of The Jewish Daily Forward and Jeffrey Eisenberg, co-founder and CEO of Future Now.