Mark Bricklin introduced the print version of Men’s Health in 1986 and just after 10 years, the magazine made its online debut @menshealth.com. Since its debut, Men’s Health has surpassed many great traditional men’s fitness and lifestyle magazines including GQ and Esquire.
Despite facing competition from behemoths in the market, Men’s Health managed to exist and thrive for more than 2 decades. So, we wanted to know how they’ve grown and especially, outpaced their established rivals. What are all the strategies they have been working on since the launch to become the #1 fitness destination for Men?
This study aims to include some of the interesting tactics the publisher used to grow its audience and revenue (not restricted to digital).
Discretion: Men’s Health isn’t just a website. It has multiple spin-offs, sister magazines (print), and has always been a part of a much larger print media company. At times, we’ve to extrapolate and cite the group revenue (advertising) to complete the story.
How it all started?
Rodale Inc. realized that it could reach the extra audience by launching the digital version of the magazine and that’s when Menshealth.com was launched. Though Mike was the founding editor of the magazine, it was David Zinczenko who made a way to grow and helped Menshealth.com to make its online presence across the digital ecosystem.
Where they are today?
Men’s Health started its journey in the late 90s; has gone through many ups and downs (recessions) to become the desired destination of fitness addicts. The site garnered close to 24 million page views per month, thanks to its 24 million social media fans/followers.
With over 6.7M+ monthly unique visitors, Men’s Health is now the #1 online magazine in the fitness category. To deliver its message in front of the right people, the publisher utilized various social media platforms that contributed 15.21% to the total website traffic (Src). Unsurprisingly, search sent more than 60 percent of the total traffic to the website.
The site alone is estimated to generate $30 million in revenue as per the company’s Owler page. The overall revenue of the group could be anywhere around $200 million.
Without any further ado, let’s dive into the growth strategies of Men’s Health.
Becoming Men’s Health
The Launch, Marketing, and Advertising
Despite scaling up the print magazine to a large audience base, the circulation of the Men’s Health was stable for the past few years. To increase the number of visitors and revenue as well, Rodale Inc. launched Menshealth.com. Initially, the magazine published the same content similar to that of the print magazine covering a wide range of topics from the best of health, lifestyle, and fitness industry.
Coremetrics Analytics Tool
Since the magazine published both advertising and premium content, it was important to bring back people to the site on a regular basis in order to increase engagement and hence, ad revenue. A visitor who left the website without completing the desired action can be brought back by retargeting or remarketing.
So, the publisher asked its marketing team to closely track users’ behavior on the web pages with the help of IBM’s Coremetrics analytics tools. Like Google Analytics, Coremetrics helped Men’s Health editors to collect different types of information based on visitors’ behavior, likes or dislikes to maintain a report on how the users visited the website.
Coremetrics allowed the publisher to categorize users’ data and do segmentation based on their interests and its marketing tools integrated with third-party vendors helped the publisher to bring back the audience to the site.
It is one of the many tools the publisher tried over the course of two decades. In general, Men’s health had a clear goal and it acted as a signal for the traffic acquisition team to follow.