Longmont Leader serves the city of Longmont Colorado (population: 97,000) and its surrounding communities.
Site Launch: May 26, 2020.
Current Staff: 3 editorial, 1 Business
- CMS: Village Media
- User Management System: Village Media
- Ad Trafficking: Google Ad Manager, Advendio
- Analytics: Google Analytics, Google Data Studio, News Consumer Insights
- Email Engine: Mailchimp
- eCommerce engine: Stripe
- Tax Status: For profit
- Primary Revenue Streams: Direct sold advertising, reader contribution
You can track progress on the project here. We will post regular updates with summaries of major activities, experiments and site performance data.
- Site visit to Longmont and Greeley, CO.
- Second site visit to Longmont.
- Green light decision on Longmont as second site for Compass project.
- Discussed different launch approaches for Longmont given Covid crisis. Decided to go with a plan previously discussed with the understanding that launch may go slower than normal.
- Extended relationship with Village Media for site 2.
- Opened conversations to acquire Longmont Observer.
- Recruiting for the editor position.
- Design, naming and basic site set up for Longmont Leader.
- Joined Chamber of Commerce and Latino Chamber of Commerce.
- Launched Longmont Leader
- Acquired Longmont Observer. Arranged tight orchestration of wind-down of Observer and notifying audience about the Leader.
- Hired editor, assistant editor, first reporter and business executive. Got a set of freelancers in place to help support early weeks until we can hire our second reporter. Onboarded to McClatchy, trained in Village CMS and editorial model and processes.
- Reached agreement with a well known local weather columnist formerly with the Observer.
- Held a series of focus groups in advance of launch (along with pre-launch survey) to talk about coverage areas, UI/UX site design, and existing newsreader habits
- Starting a test with AP for Colorado news.
- Set ads pricing for Longmont - same rates as Youngstown.
- Virtual Event\
Discussion about Race, Policing and Human Rights\
232 Registered, 151 attendees, 969 views on Facebook
- 5 new subscribers
- Partnered with Longmont Public Media and Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce
- 2,400 email subscribers with an open rate of 40% and click rate of 17%.
- 10 voluntary, monthly contributors in first month
- Published post on methods and results of community surveys and focus groups
- Launched Spanish language section and began publishing articles in Spanish
- Began site with voluntary pay to see if possible to drive early contributions
- Facebook user acquisition campaign (Likes and email subscribers)
- Joined as a sponsor of Longmont Chamber of Commerce golf outing
- Advertising campaigns booked: 3-month Community Leaders Program ad package.
- Continued planning for direct-sold and programmatic political ads including video.
- Began sales incentive plan based on sales and audience development goals.
- 47% more users from July, and traffic is up across all channels. Direct traffic is up 200% from July.
- Launched the first CLP vertical - Outside. Sponsor, Longmont Shuttle, is already very pleased with the click-through traffic.
- Secured 2nd annual advertiser: Niwot Wheel Works (starts in September)
- Obituaries: Continuing to zoom out from Longmont for permissions from area funeral homes. Volume is low compared to our first site.
- Started weekly column from local influencer and finance blogger Mr. Money Mustache
- More than 25% traffic is direct, showing strong name brand recognition and the Observer buy paying off from an acquisition standpoint
- Nearing 4K email subscriber milestone
- Hiring on part-time bilingual reporter Silvia Romero Solis to full-time
- Voter guides and election landing page launched week of Sep. 25
- Launched EOY fundraising campaign with goal of 100 new donors
- New values statement/about page written by the team, helping with fundraising drive
- Standout work in covering local wildfires
- 21% of monthly PVs was to one story on changes to local RV ordinance (primarily direct)
- Awarded two small grants from the Community Foundation of Boulder County for COVID coverage and Spanish language translations
- Awarded grant from API for translation of our voter guide and election coverage into Spanish
- First giveaway completed Alfalfa's grocery gift cards
- We experimented with Social News Desk, which VM uses, for 2 of the weeks
- 178 new sign-ups from the campaign at $1.96 a sign-up (In the US, their average cost per sign-up ranges between $.75 to $3.00)
- Got some negative feedback about having this signup campaign as an interstitial to see breaking news content
- Traffic settled back to a normal growth level without a "viral" story surge - PVs +15% from September | Users +20% from September
- New ad campaign sold to start in December (eBikes)
- On track to meet EOY fundraising goal of 100 new donors
- Good buzz around Spanish voter guide via interview on KGNU
- Election coverage concluded with positive results and learnings:
- Traffic trends lean to early voting: In Colorado, interest in the voter guide and election content peaked the week of Oct. 11-17, the week before early voting started.
- Readers spent time with voter guide content: Time on page ranging from 7:30 to 10:50 for English and Spanish respectively.
- Organic search drove the bulk of views to voter guides and election results.
- Newsletters were welcomed, performed well in terms of open and click rates.
- Results underperformed: We did not see a lot of traffic to live results on election day, nor did they draw a long tail of views in the days following, as we would expect.
- Exploring membership in the Colorado Press Association for 2021
- Completed integration with SmartNews for syndication revenue
- Started community meetings with Latinx leaders and cultural brokers ahead of wider audience research in early 2021.
- End of Year fundraising campaign raised more than $10,000, with 147 new contributors (our goal was 100).
- Decision to divest in Longmont Leader
- Moved to Village Media platforms (moved Mailchimp, ecommerce, GSuite, Analytics, etc.)
- Started $100/day Facebook page "like" boost campaign
- Sent instructions to Social News Desk for $100/day email acqusition campaign (expected to start by March 3)
- Removed "support" and email sign up red boxes from header (de-cluttering)
- Modified widgets at bottom of articles - back to standards (hoping to improve recirculation)
- For personal reasons, we are down two reporters for the week - so slow start in editorial
- Implemented VM Ad Tech / Stack + Moved existing client ad campaigns to VM environment