Savvy Digital Publishers Driving Website Traffic & Controlling Brand Identity

Digital publishers at The Economist, Bonnier, and New York Media share techniques for driving traffic; Publishers use social media to enhance brand identity

Audience development is a major factor in the growth of brands of digital publishers. Today we’re sharing some tips shared by an array of publishers who are driving more traffic and using social media to impact brand identity.

We begin today with a story looking at the growth of website traffic being experienced at The Economist and Bonnier. Folio: reports, “In 2016, The Economist set the goal of hitting 660,000 clicks for the year through Facebook. In reality, the brand’s digital team delivered three million new readers by utilizing campaign tracking. The Economist was able to compare audiences that were exposed to the brand’s content with carefully selected lookalike content, which showed that audiences exposed to The Economist were more likely to consider it, to want to recommend it to others and to recognize it as relevant to them.”


“With campaign tracking codes included, companies like The Economist Group and Bonnier Corp. are able to measure any number of data points for a specific URL. These data points include: average time on site, bounce rate, average page depth, device usage and repeat visits.”

The article continues with some additional insight on tracking referrals from social media. “One of the most important things brands can track is referrals, specifically from a title’s Facebook posts versus all referrals. Jones says the company adjusted its Facebook post strategy based on the data collected via campaign tracking. By appending tracking codes to all links shared to Bonnier’s pages or used in Facebook ads, Bonnier was able to better optimize by focusing on metrics like time on site, page views per visit and bounce rates.”

Our next story looks at New York Media and how the company has been able to drive more traffic to its verticals. Digiday reports, “While many publishers have all but given up on chasing homepage traffic and are taking a distributed approach to launching media brands, New York Media’s goal is to drive people back to its own sites, and specifically its homepages. Homepage visits across its portfolio are up 19 percent year over year through the first half of 2017.”

That’s important since 85 percent of the publisher’s overall traffic comes through side doors. New York Media has begun targeting people on Facebook with content that’s designed to drive them to the site, where they’ll likely be asked to sign up for an email newsletter.”

Once the digital publishers recognized that some of their efforts were driving unaligned traffic, they decided to focus on alignment with its video content. “At first, the focus was on driving as many video views as possible, getting hits like this video about people painted like animals, which has racked up over 133 million views. Those views didn’t help get people back to its sites, though, so New York Media shifted its focus to videos aimed at its core readers, like this one on The Cut’s Facebook page about how marble printing works.”

Our final story looks at digital publishers who are using social media to further brand identity, and how they are doing it. Digiday reports, “BBC News, CNN, Business Insider, The Sun and The Times heavily brand posts and videos that go out on Facebook and Instagram to make sure people know the source within seconds of seeing them in their feeds. CNN went a step further, incorporating the same red in its logo to specific words in the body of articles it runs on Apple News, Facebook, Google AMP or Instagram.”

“…for The Times, it’s more important to maintain the same tone and techniques across the publication’s sites and verticals. That’s why all text on social posts are edited by Times journalists to ensure the standard and tone is the same as the publication. They also use an in-house tool that pulls in the most shareable quotes into digital cards with a uniform tone and design.”

Are you among digital publishers who need to drive more website traffic? If so, set up a time to chat with me. I have extensive experience building audience development strategies for content publishers.


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