Fresh Content: The Key Performance Indicator

Fresh Content: The Key Performance Indicator

In the subscription billing universe, stale content is the enemy. If left unattended, this enemy becomes a poison that leads to canceled subscriptions and a dwindling subscriber base. On the flip side, fresh, relevant content that draws readers’ attention and keeps them coming back for more is the nirvana that all periodical subscription websites aspire to.

Avoid the ‘Analysis Paralysis’ Trap

Any online business that’s not consistently applying a significant portion of its resources towards generating and managing fresh content is missing the boat. Too often, small businesses get caught in the analysis paralysis trap, meaning too much time is spent analyzing metrics from content that was created weeks ago. This is content that readers have long since left behind in their rear-view mirror.

How to Drive Content with Limited Resources

Granted, most small businesses have limited resources to generate fresh content. It is easy for any business to fall into the trap of relying completely on its own staff to continuously create this content. This is akin to sending a one-armed man into a fight. Why do it all when there is army of readers who can help? Tap into the insight, emotion and intellect of a subscriber base that’s ready, willing and able to contribute.

Have an Engaging Home Page

Most successful paid subscription sites feature a free section that is incorporated into the home page. Also typically featured is an interactive blog where readers can respond to articles and contribute ideas and exchanges — all of which continuously drives traffic! The home page should also include links to premium content that only subscribers can access.

Subscription Sites May Rule

For example, many newspaper sites highlight news and information about various current events. A number of articles are free, while others tease readers with only the first paragraph visible. Want to finish the story? Click on the subscription link, sign up and unlock the rest of the article. The KPI (or Key Performance Indicator) of these sites is how often content gets updated, which is directly proportional to subscriber retention rates.

As for exactly how often content needs to be updated, this will vary and depends quite a bit on how specialized the subject matter is.  For a broad-based example that truly sets the bar, look no further than the Wall Street Journal’s online offering, Content is updated every half-hour at minimum. Home pages are constantly refreshed with current picture offerings. Top stories are free, but the majority of articles require subscriptions.

When done right, the ongoing generation of fresh content is the key to a longstanding and successful relationship between a successful online business and its subscribers.



Rising above the hype…

Rising above the hype….

Post-vacation bliss!

Post-vacation bliss!.

Post-vacation bliss!

The date:  April 8, 2012.  Easter Sunday, 3:24 pm…a slice out of time:

I’m watching the Masters on TV…outside, just as at Augusta National a mere 2 hours away, it’s a stunningly beautiful Easter Sunday.  A myriad of thoughts peacefully drift through my unusually well-rested brain…feeling truly at peace with the world, thanks in no small part to a six-night spring break family vacation in Beaver Creek, Colorado.  Sitting back with a ‘job well done’ feeling:  Julie and the boys had a great time…our fears of the snow being all melted from an unseasonably warm winter were put to rest the first day:  lots of greens, blues and blacks to pump our adrenaline, run after run, with names like Centennial, Red Buffalo, Red Tail, Arrowhead, Bachelor Gulch and the boys’ favorite:  Park 101 terrain park.  Willy’s Face, the black diamond part of Centennial, will go down in our family history as JP’s first-ever black diamond run.  He took it like a Champ, especially for a 10-yr old southern boy!  And little bro Jack, after a frustrating first day of snowboarding, took to skis like a duck to water.  One last memory takes me back to Colorado:  while mom enjoyed herself skiing with Suzanne on the less-daring part of the mountain, the boys and I took The Birds of Prey Express Lift, to the site of the 2015 World Downhill.  Tuck and go, baby!  Mom and Dad are really proud of our boys, rockin’ on the slopes.  I predict more skiing in their future!

6:08…the near-perfect day continues…after a brief stopover at The Hendricks’ house, back at the ranch with the boys outside playing:  JP, Jack, Evan, Zach, Mikey…da boyz…The Masters is a tremendous finish…Bubba Watson looks dialed in.  Phil has too much to overcome.  Ian Poulter misses his par at 18 !

Did I mention how much I love today?

Georgia Tech’s own, Matt Kuchar, is playing awesome.  Bubba leaves another one short…not a good time for this.  The drama continues.  6:43 pm, wow what a finish:  18th hole and tied.

The rest goes down in Augusta lore.  The golfing world has a new hero of everyman, a southern boy named Bubba, who was truly overcome by emotion at the moment he drained that final putt.  Kind of a John Daly minus the abuses.  Nice guy Bubba may be the antithesis to Tiger.

‘Nuff golf.  Fast forward.

10:33 pm and all is quiet in the Murphy household.  All is right with the world.  Life is a perfect circle, and the circle begins anew tomorrow.  Thank You, Lord.  Humbled to be a part of it all.  Looking forward to the unknown.  Make the most of it.

A quick peek ahead, and then bedtime.  Crunch-time at work:  time to make a difference to the bottom line…’cause no matter how good you are, if you can’t move the needle, what does it matter?  (Personally speaking, the greatest fear of all is the fear of irrelevance.)  Two weeks until RILA in Grapevine, TX…our second-biggest trade show of the year and a great opportunity to connect with many big prospects and clients.  Got to make it count.  Prospects, cases…bring them in.  Nashville in May, not sure where else…June, heading south to muggy New Orleans for NRF, our biggest conference/trade show of the year.  In between, the boys finish up school in late May — time to high-tail it to the condo.  A working trip, always a dicey combo.  “Rise and fall, turn the wheel, ’cause all life is, is really just a circle.”  – Big Head Todd & The Monsters.  As true as it gets.

Mom turns 87 June 17th weekend.  Baseball will keep us busy until then, maybe a camping trip if I can squeeze it in…meanwhile keep up the tennis and cardio.  One thing’s for sure:  I want to stay in reasonably good shape for the rest of my life, as long as I’m physically able.  The slopes of Beaver Creek reminded me what a joy it is to go fast downhill and experience that ol’ rush of adrenaline…and with the boys approaching those double-dog dare teen years, I will want to keep up when we go on on more trips:  skiing, scuba, whatever adventure comes our way.  There’s a song in there somewhere.

Finally, as the summer of 2012 takes us on its rides, 50 approaches.  Hey, it’s just a number, right?  (“I know, right?”)  So be it.  Bring it on, and press on.  Maybe a celebratory trip of some sort awaits…even just a weekend away would be nice.  Julie is really going to bat here (did I mention I have the world’s greatest wife?)  Regardless, will try to take it all in stride…keep on smilin’, stay on the track.  Review your goals.  Perform, do well, and reap the benefits…watch over your flock and most importantly, always be thankful.

10:59 pm.  Lights out, time for bed.

Rising above the hype…

Every once in a while, in this increasingly hyped sports world we live in, an otherwise mundane event rises up and commands notice.  We focus on the NFL regular season, week 13…Browns vs. Steelers.

I remember sitting in my easy chair, channel-surfing and hearing the distant echoes of an old Bruce Springsteen song in my head (“…57 channels and nothing on…”) when the ESPN sports ticker jolted me back to reality:  there’s an NFL game going on!  It turned out to be a classic rivalry game:  Cleveland at Pittsburgh, courtesy of the new NFL network, broadcasting live from Heinz Field on a cold but clear Pittsburgh night.  Regardless of how one feels about Ben Roethlisburger and his recently-publicized off-the-field exploits, the guy is as tough as they come and showed it again by shaking off the pain of a high-ankle sprain to lead his team to victory.  Sure, Cleveland’s recent road record against the Steelers is absolutely woeful…the last time the Browns tasted victory in the Steel City, it was the year 2003.  To put a time stamp on it, Roy Horn was in a Las Vegas hospital recuperating from the tiger attack 48 hours earlier that permanently ended the Siegfried & Roy show.   A bit closer to home, Browns fans may also remember Tim Couch running and passing his team to a 33-13 win, posting gaudy 20-for-25 throwing stats in the process.  I may be leaving a few others out, but Charlie Batch is the one guy who comes to mind that played roles in both of these games, although the scenarios were totally different:  Eight years ago, Batch, the Criminal Justice major who shattered almost every passing record while at Eastern Michigan University, relieved an ineffective Tommy Maddox late in the game.  By that time the Browns were already comfortably ahead.  Although the Pittsburgh skies were clear that night, Maddox was getting rained on by a chorus of boos from the Steeler faithful.  Bill Cowher had finally seen enough and made the change, which amounted to not much more than some relief pitcher mop-up work for Batch in a blowout loss.

Back to the present.  Batch, who has grown accustomed to his role as a pretty good backup to Big Ben over the years, entered the scene midway through the second quarter.  As we’ve seen numerous times throughout his career, Big Ben’s ability to elude pass rushes and buy precious seconds to find an open receiver downfield is what generates big plays in the Steeler offense.  This time, however, there was no dramatic completion.  Instead, the qb wound up on the ground in grimacing pain, his left ankle grossly twisted under 585 pounds of mass — the combined weight of the high-low hit administered by Cleveland DT’s Scott Paxson and Brian Schaefering.

And down.



With 5:59 to go in the 2nd quarter, whoosh goes the air of excitement from the Heinz Field faithful, as a hush falls upon the crowd.  He was helped up by his teammates and the trainer, who together half-carried the limping star to a waiting cart.  Exit Roethlisburger to the locker room for x-rays.  All appearances suggested the rest of the night would be won or lost by Pittsburgh’s native son, Charlie Batch.  More importantly, the entire Steeler season was now in doubt.

The halftime show’s entire focus was appropriately centered on the injury and how serious it was.  Clearly, Pittsburgh’s postseason run would be put in serious jeopardy without Roethlisburger at the helm.  Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin and Steve Mariucci were convinced Ben was through for the night.  More importantly to their push for postseason success, Mariucci predicted the Pittsburgh coaching staff’s primary focus would be on getting their qb ready in ten days for the Monday night showdown against the revitalized 49ers.  As for tonight, they would likely adjust the game-plan on the fly to help Batch conservatively manage the offense and nurse a slim 7-3 lead.  Right before the game crew cut to commercials and the start of the second half, Marshall Faulk became the only talking head of the night to say it would not surprise him one bit to see Ben back on the field and in the lineup.  The others looked at him like he was out of his mind.

Back in the locker room, we don’t know what was said, but it was probably something to the effect of “tape it up.  I’m going back out there.”  We do know after the game Ben said the injury “was one of the most painful things I ever felt.  It felt like the middle of my leg was just, cracked … it felt like my foot was outside of my leg.”  (Read more:

Charlie Batch’s helmet stayed off in the second half as a very gimpy Roethlisburger emerged from the locker room to a thunderous roar from the 65,000 + faithful at Heinz Field.  The Steelers took the opening kickoff by attempting a reverse that failed miserably and started the offense deep in their own territory.  Ben couldn’t pivot on his left foot to execute a simple handoff, but he did the best he could, and an energized Steeler offense helped.  Four out of their first five plays from scrimmage were Rashard Mendenhall runs of 7, 5, 11 and 4 yards, but the initial 2nd-half drive drive fizzled near midfield when Antonio Brown couldn’t hold onto a 3rd-and-13 pass.

The rest of the game featured a healthy dose of Mendenhall runs interspersed with Roethlisburger somewhat effectively distributing the ball in the air.  All told, he threw for 280 yards on the night, primarily to wideouts Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, who are injecting the Steeler offense with a healthy dose of speed and youth.   Early in the fourth quarter, Wallace had a nice catch-and-run to the 2, but Cleveland’s defense rose up with a stunning goal-line stand…four times, the give was to 43.  And four times, the  Browns defense rose up to stop Mendenhall.  (Woulda, coulda, shoulda:  Mike Tomlin’s decision to go for it on 4th down and risk taking points off the board — the score was 7-3 at the time — was a questionable one.  The flip side of this illustrates the confidence he has in Dick Lebeau’s defense, which kept the Browns in check all night.)  Defenses dominated the middle part of the 2nd half and the score remained the same.  With 7:10 to go in the game, a chink in the Pittsburgh armour brought the Cleveland fans to their feet:  Roethlisburger’s throw to Heath Miller was picked off by safety Mike Adams at the Steeler 44-yard line.  Two plays later, Colt McCoy eluded the initial pass rush, moved to his left and completed a pass in the flat to Montario Hardesty.  But McCoy paid the price in a big way, courtesy of a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit from James Harrison that laid the second-year qb flat on the Heinz Field turf.   The resulting 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty gave the Browns the ball at the 19 with a great opportunity to take the lead, but all the dazed and confused McCoy could do was stand and watch.  His replacement, Seneca Wallace, connected on two straight completions, the second to Evan Moore at the Steeler 5.  Browns fans across the land could smell victory.  Dick LeBeau’s D was reeling.  Coach Pat Shurmer’s opportunity to pull off a big road win and upset their bitter rival was here.  This was football drama between two division rivals at its regular-season best.  What would happen next — a backup qb saving the day for Cleveland?  Not so fast….viewers were then treated to the sight of McCoy running back into the game (much to the chagrin of his dad, who later made clear his displeasure with this decision).  This was the closest the Browns would get.  The next play, Colt was running like a quarter horse to escape another all-out pit-bull rush from the ever-present Harrison.  (Not sure if there’s anyone in the NFL who intimidates qb’s more.)  He got rid of the ball but was flagged for intentional-grounding:  Now it’s 3rd-and-goal from the 16.  This time, McCoy has time.  He sets up in the pocket, looks left, then throws to Mohamed Massaquoi, who is open a step ahead of William Gay in the left corner of the end zone.  The pass was slightly off-target and Gay closed the gap to make a leaping interception.  Thunderous roar at Heinz Field.  Capture the moment:  Gay stands with arms held aloft, his prize possession in one hand, facing the crowd and grinning.

With Pittsburgh back on offense, Roethlisburger, who had been pacing back and forth on the sidelines to keep the ankle from further stiffening, could barely walk and made another errant throw.  Up in the TV booth, Phil Simms said what most of us were already feeling:  the ineffective, injured qb shouldn’t be out there.  In the end, it was poetry in motion:  an absolutely improbable Roethlisburger-to-Antonio Brown 79-yard TD catch-and-run with 2:52 to go that sealed the deal, 14-3.  Game, set and match.

Just don’t ask Colt McCoy to relive it, as he doesn’t remember anything from 5:49 on, the point at which James Harrison’s helmet-t0-helmet hit put him temporarily on the sidelines.  Two plays later, the Browns coaches deemed him fit to go back in.  (Concussion awareness training, anyone?)

All in all, this game was the real deal.  Tough, gutsy play on both sides of the ball, which this storied rivalry always promises.  Goal-line stands.  Questionable coaching decisions.  Yet another acrobatic Troy Polamalu interception.  The sick speed of Antonio Brown.  One of those nights that leaves an NFL fan feeling thoroughly satisfied.  Especially if you’re a Steelers fan.

Poetry old and new…

Poetry old and new….

Poetry old and new…

What do William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and Charley Pride (1938 – still kickin’) have in common?  Hmmmm….good question.  On the surface at least, they seem about as far apart as two can get.  Well, for starters, they both put pen to paper, in their respective centuries, and did a little rhymin’.  Wordsworth was the second of five, born in the Lake District of Northwestern England; Pride 1 of 11 dirt-poor sharecroppers in Sledge, Mississippi.  WW grew up in a mansion.  Pride did not.  In addition to his considerable skills as a poet, WW took a walking tour of Europe in his earlier days, which included an extensive tour of the Alps in 1790 as well as visits to France, Switzerland and Italy.

In addition to his love of music, and especially the guitar, Charley Pride played baseball.  In 1952 he pitched for the Memphis Red Sox of the Negro American League.   His Negro League baseball career included stints in Boise, Louisville, Birmingham and Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  His hopes of making it to the Majors were put on hold by a two-year stint with the U.S. Army.  After fulfilling his obligation to the armed forces, Pride’s baseball career resumed, but as time went by he realized his dream of making it to the Major Leagues would not be realized.  The wind-down of his baseball career was concurrent with the ramp-up of his professional music career.  In 1958 he recorded music at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis.  Charley eventually signed a contract with RCA in 1965 and recorded a string of hits, culminating with his # 1 chart-topper for five weeks, ‘Kiss An Angel Good Morning’.

The works of William Wordsworth will remain forever imbedded throughout English literature.  His accomplishments led him to become the Poet Laureate of England in the last seven years of his life (1843-1850).  During this time he rested upon his laurels and wrote no poetry.

My comparison/contrast of their lives ends here.  Let’s now take a very abbreviated look at their works:

“Ode on Intimations of Immortality” (this is quite abbreviated from the entire poem.  This is exactly as it was quoted in an exchange between father and son in the movie ‘A River Runs Through It’)

“Not in entire forgetfulness and not in utter nakedness…Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, of Glory in the flower, we will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.  In the primal sympathy which having been must ever be, in the soothing thoughts which sprang out of human suffering, in the faith that looks through death, thanks to the human heart by which we live.  Thanks to its tenderness, its joy, its fears.  To me, the meanest flower that blows…can give thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.”


“Kiss An Angel Good Morning”

Whenever I chance to meet
some old friends on the street
They wonder how does a man get to be this way
I’ve always got a smiling face
Anytime and any place
And everytime they ask me why
I just smile and say

You’ve got to
Kiss an angel good morning
and let you know you think about her when you’re gone
Kiss an angel good morning
and love her like the devil when you get back home
Well people may try to guess
The secret of a happiness
but some of them never learn it’s a simple thing

The secret i’m speaking of
Is a woman and a man in love
and the answer is in this song
that i always sing

You’ve got to
Kiss an angel good morning
and let you know you think about her when you’re gone
Kiss an angel good morning
and love her like the devil when you get back home

Kiss an angel good morning
and let you know you think about her when you’re gone
Kiss an angel good morning
and love her like the devil when you get back home

tough call, but I kind of prefer Charley.