Posts Tagged ‘engagement’

The best newsletter frequency for you

March 9, 2009

I’ve already discussed how I believe that every magazine website should have a newsletter and be building a database of interested readers, even if you have limited resources to send one out. There’s no better way to communicate with the largest amount of your readers (as RSS is still for the tech-savvy minority). And a recent article in Business Week discusses how newsletters are one of the best sources of online revenue. But once you’re collecting names, the next question becomes: how often should the newsletter be sent?

There are two main points to consider: what your readers will be receptive to, and what your staff can manage.

If you’re running on limited resources, I would recommend a monthly newsletter; less often than that and I don’t think you’re connecting often enough. Remember that it doesn’t have to be “written” per se; it’s more a reminder that you’re there and offering them value than necessarily more content. Plus by contacting readers monthly – and having them visit the site monthly – you’re impacting your metrics every month.

If possible – and if your site’s frequency of updates warrants it (and it should!) – weekly is best. You’ll increase your repeat traffic and keep readers informed of what’s new on your site.

And if you can manage it, you can also consider a daily newsletter. Dailies are tricky, and I wouldn’t want them to be my only newsletter (as many readers would never sign up for one), but they’re a great way to give your most engaged readers extra value. The key is to make them short and sweet. I’m having success with my Best Health Tip of the Day newsletter (a daily quick health tip with three related links), which was partly inspired by Runner’s World’s daily quote newsletter and Martha Stewart’s Cookie of the Day (which doesn’t seem to be on her site right now, although I am still getting it).

Of course, if possible, you may want to consider more than one newsletter, depending on how you want to engage with readers.

And above all, remember the golden rule: don’t annoy your readers – or, here, subscribers. Give them what you said you would and let them unsubscribe easily if they want to. You’ll be rewarded by happy subscribers and lots of click-throughs.

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How Stephen Harper has helped the CBC

December 5, 2008

Those of you tapped into Canadian politics (and what a week it’s been) may have noticed the unreal amount of comments being posted on the major news sites. CBC.ca even posted an article about user engagement on their site, and apparently their traffic has been higher this week than during the Olympics. As of Wednesday afternoon, when the article went online, they had already had over 20,000 comments – and I’m sure there are far more than that now.

Just goes to show, if you provide people with a place to talk about the issues that concern them, they will come. It’s just a matter of matching your content with the right group and topic.

Should you link out to other sites?

September 17, 2008

Many people don’t like to link out to other sites – they’re afraid they’ll lose their traffic to competitors, or that linking will decrease user engagement. So they either don’t link at all, or link only to “noncompetitors”, or only in a new window.

Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 disagrees – he’s a bit of an evangelist on the benefits of linking. And he has a new blog post up on the top news sites (by sessions and time per person) – at the top of both lists is drudgereport.com, a news aggregator that exists solely by linking and does pretty well at it. According to Karp, this is more proof that linking out can only help you.

What’s your site’s policy on linking out? And what’s your perspective as a reader?

Is social media right for your site?

September 12, 2008

Folio posted a long roundtable discussion the other day about incorporating – and monetizing – social media on your site. Participants included Stephen Merrill of BudgetTravel.com, Jeremy Westin of Playboy Media Group and Ted Nadeau of CondeNet. It’s definitely worth a read if you’re interested in the subject. But for the time-pressed, here are a few key points:

• Nadeau points out that not only does social media offer an opportunity to deepen user engagement, but it’s a way to extend your content and brand beyond the “walls” of your website.

• According to several of the participants, we’re moving from an age of quantity to an age of quality, from valuing high traffic numbers to valuing quality traffic. This is especially important as online ad sales looks to improve upon the CPM model for gathering revenue.

• It’s all about the content and how you facilitate it. Stick to your brand.

• Community managers/editors/leaders are going to be the next wave of editorial staff and the next “cool job to have”.

• When working on user-generated content, it’s important to maintain editorial standards.

• We’re still in the early days of social media; “it’s all about careful experimentation,” says Westin.

Multipage vs. single page articles

September 10, 2008

Mitch Joel at Twist Image has an interesting post up about his annoyance at multipage articles on websites. His annoyance stems from the fact that this practice often exists simply so that sites can increase their pageviews (and thus ad impressions) and pages per visitor.

So, why do magazine and newspaper Websites continue this terrible user experience of having to click through multiple web pages to read a 750 word article?

Is it possible that those two extra clicks of the mouse generate enough page impressions and banner ads served that it’s worth the frustration to their readers? The answer must be yes.

Guilty as charged – who doesn’t want to help out their stats, and who isn’t under pressure to increase ad impressions? Multipage content (slideshows are often an extension of this in a lot of cases) can be a good way to increase pages per visitor, and therefore demonstrate higher user engagement.

But…it isn’t just about the impressions. Michelle Evans notes in the comments that multipage articles are a good way of gauging user engagement – you can tell in your analytics software how many people clicked through to the next page. And Lorenzo says that he likes multiple pages on long articles as it gives him a sense of progression. (I’d have to agree.)

My take as a reader? Clicking through multiple pages a paragraph at a time is overkill. But for longer content, I’m happy to do it and even sometimes welcome it. And if this is what it takes for online media to make money at this stage in the game, then fine – I prefer it over a) invasive ads (strange floating popups, I’m talking to you) and b) pay walls. 

My take as a web editor? I hesitate to put up really long articles in one page. It just seems strange, like the reader will get lost. And yes, I do like to see how many people click through multiple pages in content.

What do you think?