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F+W Media scales its online learning business

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About F+W

F+W strives to offer the most complete—online and offline—customer experience for enthusiasts of all types: Arts, crafts, antiques & collectibles, design and outdoor are just a few of the hobbies, pastimes
and personal interests it serves via its many underlying brands.

Enthusiasts and hobbyists alike turn to F+W for authoritative, relevant and helpful information along with the most complete assortment of
products, services, books and magazines catering to each community. F+W continually seeks to find innovative ways to meet the needs and wants of today’s consumer.

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The Problem

In business for nearly 100 years, F+W has evolved from print publisher to diversified multi-media and eCommerce provider with more than 30 online stores, each serving niche communities with specialized content and products. As part of the Company’s evolution, it integrated online learning as a means to connect with and engage both consumer and professional audiences.

However, the platforms used for F+W’s school and video sites did not offer an engaging experience nor did it offer the potential for product integration—an important business initiative for the company. Additionally, working from two disparate technologies didn’t make it easy to manage. Their previous platform, being more academic focused, was not conducive for consumer learning. Nor did it offer a customized experience, engagement tools, or data analytics tools. Most importantly the sites didn’t offer a direct-to-consumer purchasing option for goods and services within the video platform.

The Goal

F+W needed a new solution. One consolidated platform that could offer a seamless transition for current users and subscribers, and one that could be tailored more specifically to F+W’s needs (e.g. the creation of course sessions, so instructors could dedicate one-on-one attention to students).

F+W needed to move large repositories of content, including thousands of videos, hundreds of thousands of user records, and securely transfer payment data for recurring subscriptions quickly. 

The Solution

Thought Industries introduced an all-in-one platform that could host both online schools and video on-demand sites. The platform allowed for not only fully-branded sites, but also a more robust user experience.

This would also have to happen with no down time and no loss in revenue capture. Thought industries worked closely to ensure all data and user accounts across 19 sites were accurately migrated from multiple platforms and sources so that the end users could enjoy a transition to the Thought Industries platform without interruption. The transition did not require significant back-end management and F+W deemed the experience “the quietest migration ever.”

The new sites simplified the process of authoring content while the platform enables F+W to easily create tailored microsites, landing pages, and sophisticated offers and bundles for the product and marketing team to leverage. Additionally, some sites offer built-in eCommerce functionality that make the overall consumer experience that much richer.

The Result

With the help of Thought Industries, F+W increased customer value and strengthened its customer relationships. Looking specifically at the numbers, as of October 2015:

  • 11 Schooll sites and 8 video sites live on the Thought Industries platform
  • Instructor-led course and seminars in 11 different market categories
  • Over 7800 items in their video library across six distinct categories
  • Online education has become a significant eight-figure business for F+W
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"Our users see real value in our online learning business—it’s interactive, offers a true one-on-one relationship and connects users with experts in the marketplace. As a result of working with Thought Industries, online learning has become a high value, high price point product that’s led us to an eight-figure business."

Winter Thielen
Director of Online Product Development, F+W

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