Using Website Branding to Increase Targeted Website Traffic

Executive Summary

  • Why proper website branding is critical to audience development
  • Why you should expect your online audience to be 10 to 20 times larger
  • How your print brand can be used to increase targeted website traffic
  • Defining the relationship between print and website branding
  • Understand how website branding relates to a Mequoda Website Network

The publisher in charge of website branding and increasing targeted website traffic for websites published by a mid-size, mid-western media company was contemplating what to call his new Mequoda Editorial Hub. The Hub was to be an interactive brand extension for one of his well-known magazine brands. For example’s sake, let’s say the magazine is called the Ohio Business Review.

Per Mequoda Website Network best practices, the magazine would maintain its own separate marketing website using the Ohio Business Review nameplate where prospects could subscribe via a long sales letter landing page and subscribers could change their postal address, renew their subscription and perform other self-service customer service functions. The site would be a sales and marketing companion for the print magazine, whose website branding matches its parent magazine precisely.

Opportunity: His quandary was a simple one. How much of the magazine’s name should be carried over to the new website to make the website branding be perceived by users as an extension of the magazine, while still signaling to users that the new website was a unique media product.

His list of possible names included ones with the full name of the magazine, such as: Ohio Business Review Online, Ohio Business Review Café and Ohio Business Review Network. He was also considering shorter names, such as Ohio Business Online, Ohio Business Café and Ohio Business Network. He had already considered and rejected names like Mid-West Business Online, because they provided no website branding leverage.

Considerations: A well-executed Mequoda Editorial Hub will achieve an average monthly audience that is 10 to 20 times the size of a monthly, paid print magazine that bears the same brand. For example, where Ohio Business Review had 25,000 paid circulation, the new Hub was expected to have 250,000 active free subscribers. Ergo, the Mequoda Editorial Hub will be the better known brand seen by more people, more often. It would also become, if well executed, the magazine’s single largest source of paid subscriptions, surpassing insert cards and direct mail.

Solution: Based on data gathered from user focus groups, the website branding decision was made to go with Ohio Business Network. Many users assumed, when asked, that the same media parent produced both Ohio Business Review and Ohio Business Network. The design of the two websites and the print magazine reinforced this website branding concept. At a minimum, users assumed that the Ohio Business Review and the Ohio Business Network covered the same, or similar, topics. The “Network” term implied, the users said, that the website offered some opportunity to interact with other users. The “Café” term also offered this inference, but felt less “professional” that the term network. Another important finding, more than 85 percent of the users indicted that they would be likely to very likely to “join” the Ohio Business Network, assuming it was really free.

Lesson: When branding your websites, keep website names as short as possible and choose words that have the power to position both the content and functionality of your websites. Further, don’t use the magazine’s exact name unless you want users to think it is a direct, one-to-one translation of the magazine. While print brands are powerful, they also limit the perception of what a website might be and do. Successful media companies must become experts at using different media to cover the same topic allowing them to recycle, reuse and republish their most precious resource: branded content.

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