Drive Website Traffic, Boost Readership - Elizabeth Glagowski


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Elizabeth Glagowski's slides from her presentation at ASBPE's Sept. 24, 2009, webinar, Drive Website Traffic, Boost Readership.

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  • My name is Liz Glagowski, and I’m the managing editor for Interactive at 1to1 Media. For those of you not familiar with 1to1, we are a publishing company that produces print magazine, online content, and a strategic journal covering customer strategy topics. So naturally, we’ve got to be up on this Web 2.0 stuff, since the tools are critical to the customer experience and customer strategy. Here is my contact information on a few of these sites.
  • We’ve been experimenting with different social media and social networking tools for about 2 years, and it’s a never-ending journey. We have found a few things that work well, and some that don’t. The important thing to realize is that everyone’s got different priorities and approaches. There is no one silver bullet. It’s more like buckshot. But a lot of it’s free or low cost, so a “see what sticks” approach sometimes actually works.
  • I like this cartoon because it conveys what a lot of people are worried about with social media. Especially in the publishing space, many people are entrenched in the traditional ways of promoting business and don’t want to succumb to the latest “fad.” The publishing business has it particularly rough, because we’re not used to marketing ourselves. We had a built-in audience. Now we as editors and writers have to play a role in promotion and audience-building. You want to balance the “cool factor” with actual business results, in this case, readership. I will talk about our experiences at 1to1 Media. It’s not an exact science, and we don’t claim to be experts, but it’s been a very good learning experience for us.
  • Up until last summer we didn’t have much of a plan. So we decided to create a formal social media strategy plan to build our site traffic, subscriptions, and reader engagement. Our print and email subscribers were steady, but we weren’t growing. We basically started from scratch. Our website traffic was slow, and our search engine results were way down on the list (like 4 or 5 pages in). We also weren’t growing our subscriber base much, and we couldn’t afford to do much paid customer acquisition. So we turned to Web 2.0 tools. We decided to use a search engine optimization vendor to help us get going, because we were starting from square one. They helped us get on track with what we needed to do. I’ve broken up our strategy into 4 steps.
  • Web 2.0 is a collaborative process. It’s not just the editorial team either. They have to coordinate, but also work with marketing, sales, IT and others to figure out best practices. We had to start from scratch, and there was a lot we needed to do. A productive Web 2.0 strategy is a multiple-step approach, and if it’s only one person they’ll go crazy. Also, each department has different expertise and points of view. Our social media team was comprised of our four editors, the director of marketing, and two members of the IT staff. And when possible, we involved the sales team, other marketing employees, and senior management in using the tools and getting their insight.
  • The more content you can provide on a regular basis, the more there is for search engines to find and more for readers to click on. That was one of the reasons we launched a digital version of our print magazine. We only ship the print publication to US readers, so the digital version is made available to readers outside the U.S. or people not interested in the print version. We now have more than 20,000 subscribers to our digital edition. We also made a commitment to update our website at least daily. We created a rotating box on the homepage that features a new story every day. We also assign each of our editors a specific day to post to our blog. As for content, we now do podcasts, videos, and what we call “extension” online stories from the print magazine or our email newsletter content. They’re not long, but it’s fresh information that gets readers to come back to the site frequently. We also have decided to post user-generated content. As a business publication, for us this means Guest bloggers and contributed articles on our website. Our editors oversee the content, but it adds fresh content and a new perspective on some issues.
  • Once we had the content, we wanted to make sure people would find it. That’s why a search engine strategy is so important. The SEO firm gave everyone who posts content (editorial and marketing team) training in how to post Meta Tags and description, and some best practices for search engine success. It’s a little counter-intuitive to us editors, but it helps getting your articles noticed by those you want to notice them. Use the same keywords over and over in a headline, subtitle, keyword description and within the first paragraph or two. The more a search engine spider sees a keyword, the higher it gets ranked. But be sure to go after keywords that are attainable. For example, “marketing” is so broad, it’s not a good one to go after. At 1to1 media, For example, we like terms such as Customer Strategy; Customer Experience Management; Customer Loyalty; 1to1 Marketing. We try to use them in headlines, subheads, and 1 st paragraphs as much as possible. Meta Keywords and Description are also very important. The Meta Description is the text that shows up on the Google search results page. It’s ok to not make perfect stylistic sense, as long as the reader understands the gist. As I said before (in a redundant mode), here is where you should use the keywords over and over to help the spiders rank it high. 3. Headlines need to be more descriptive than they need to be in print, so a search engine user knows it’s relevant to their search. 4. So far so good. Every little bit helps. You see in this Google search that we’re now very high for the “customer strategy” search term.
  • What’s important about Web 2.0 is that it makes information a push instead of a pull strategy, from the content provider perspective. We want as many users to see the content as possible, which means getting off our site and going out into the world. I’ll go into a few of these in more detail, but these are a few of the sites we use to share our content. We also added a “Share” button to all of our articles, which give the reader an option to place a link to the particular article on a number of sites. There are lots more than these, but from a resource perspective, these are the ones we focus on.
  • If you don’t have an RSS feed of your content, you’re missing a huge opportunity. People want content to come to them, and many have RSS feeds built into their browser or email client. We separated our feeds into a few types: 1to1 articles, 1to1 media videos, and our blog. Here’s an example of how the video feed looks on My Yahoo. There are tools available on sites like Feedburner to track who’s subscribing to your feeds, if you want to tie back some specifics. Subscriptions via other sites like My Yahoo or Google, however, are a little harder to monitor.
  • If you don’t know about Digg, reddit, or other ranking sites like Yahoo Buzz or Propeller, you should get to know them as great resources to promote content. Each day I take the new content that we publish and add it to these sites. There are business categories in each of these sites, and it’s free. Other users vote if they like it, and it moves to more prominent areas of the site based on those votes. But that’s only half the task. In order to be considered an active member, you need to participate by making “friends,” and voting for other people’s stories. It’s not straight-up promotion. You have to give to get. There are many types of these sites, so see which ones give your content some traction, and go with it.
  • Did you know that YouTube is the 2 nd most popular search engine on the Web, behind Google? The NY Times reported in January that in November, Americans conducted nearly 2.8 billion searches on YouTube, about 200 million more than on Yahoo, according to comScore. It’s probably more now. YouTube has a reputation as a consumer and entertainment tool. But it’s not just for Chocolate Rain or David at the Dentist. We put all of our videos on YouTube. First of all, it’s free, so we don’t have to pay for a hosted video provider if you keep it under 11 minutes). And second, it’s a powerful search engine. The algorithms that manage its tags, keywords, and related videos are very relevant. Many business users visit the site to learn about products, services, and gain information about business topics. There’s really no reason not to take advantage of such a powerful Internet tool.
  • LinkedIn is another powerful Web 2.0 platform. It’s all business users, which is the perfect place to connect with potential readers as well as current readers who want to engage with us. All the 1to1 editors created their own pages and started making connections. In addition, we launched a group called 1to1 Insiders, which is a collection of employees, readers, and others in the community who are interested in 1to1 Strategy. We post all of our articles to the group, ask members questions about articles as well as their user experience with, or about other pertinent topics. It’s been really helpful when gathering reader insight or information for articles I’m working on. But I don’t stop there. I’ve also joined other groups that are related to the topics we discuss, to start a conversation and hopefully engage them to become readers, or learn about what’s going on in the space. I’m a member of groups like Customer Experience Professionals, Edge of Marketing, Customer Intelligence and Insight, and Social Media Marketing. There are many to choose from that deal with niche topics that might be relevant to your publications. But be sure to manage your expectations with these groups. Some people use them solely to promote products or services, and don’t provide much value. But if you use the groups to listen and learn from each other, it can be valuable from both an editorial and readership perspective.
  • Now lets talk about Facebook. It’s gotten so much hype, and everyone had to be on it. But I think many businesses have found out that it’s not a great place to gain a new audience. You already have to be a “fan” of a company to really gain value from it. However, Facebook serves a very important role in that it really helps with search engine placement. A Facebook page tends to be very high up on a search result (as is a LinkedIn page for particular people). So it’s worth it to put a page up and update it every so often, but we found that it’s not a critical spot to attract new users or connect with current readers.
  • Here’s another one that’s got a lot of hype now – Twitter. But we’ve seen that there’s actually some merit behind the hype. A few of us editors have Twitter pages, and we have some followers. We become followers of our followers, and try to follow people who are connected to some of our competitive publications, because that means those people may be interested in the topics we cover. But once you get a Twitter account, you have to stay active on it. Only a few of us now really focus on it, but when we do, it works. Twitter has moved from the status update concept to become a knowledge-sharing tool. People put up links to valuable content, re-tweet when they see something interesting from someone else, and the community has started using certain terms (#name) to keep up with topics. In our case, Don Peppers, a founding partner of our parent company Peppers & Rogers Group, has embraced Twitter. He talks about issues relating to the company, as well as other interesting things he learns and opinions he has. He also points to his blog, called Strategy Speaks. He tries to post at least a few things a day. He’s up to 824 followers since the beginning of the summer, and traffic to his blog as a result has grown dramatically. From May to July he got 1,429 page views of the blog, and from July to September, after he started using Twitter, traffic grew to 2,489 page views. For a business publication, it’s impressive growth.
  • Don’s got some good numbers, and overall 1to1 Media has too. From July 2008 to May 2009, our traffic jumped by 77 percent. In addition, referrals to our site from search engines jumped by 69 percent. Google, Twitter, and LinkedIn are among our top five referring websites, which means people came directly from there to our site. We use tools from Google Analytics to track our site performance. Most of those basic tools are free and easy to set up.
  • We have seen some success, but like I mentioned before we were pretty much starting from scratch. And along the way we faced many challenges. The biggest challenge is resources. All of this stuff takes a lot of time and effort. Now some people assign interns to work on these issues, but I think to gain the most results, you have to have a high-level editor involved. They will understand the nuances of the content and be able to make a decision about how best to promote it. But balancing social media efforts with your other daily tasks is definitely a lesson in time management and prioritization. While an All Hands on Deck model helps spread the content to more people and alleviates some of the resource issues, we found that for some projects there was no one “owner” of our web 2.0 strategy. For instance, no one updated our Facebook since July, and we didn’t catch it for a while. We have since decided to discuss it in a weekly meeting, and I’m overseeing the editorial aspects of the execution. It’s hard to balance what you write with the search engine best practices. Putting a keyword in an article 20 times may be great for the search engine, but it’s bad for the reader. Or a witty headline may be clever and interesting, but it’s not going to attract web visitors. You have to balance the needs of the functionality with the content. ROI is still elusive. We have some numbers to track, but many results are indirectly tied to our social media efforts. But I think the fact that many of these tools are free take some of the pressure off for metrics. But time is money, and you need to try to check if it’s worth your effort to do it.
  • Once again, here is my contact info. Feel free to contact me with any questions. And like I said before, there’s no silver bullet, and each organization will have its own priorities. But no matter how you approach Web 2.0, good luck with your endeavors!
  • Drive Website Traffic, Boost Readership - Elizabeth Glagowski

    1. 1. 1to1 Media’s Web 2.0 Experience Elizabeth Glagowski Managing Editor, Interactive 1to1 Media [email_address] @1to1MediaEditor eglagowski eglagowski
    2. 2. 1to1 screen shot
    3. 3. Everyone’s biggest fear of Web 2.0…
    4. 4. Where we were… <ul><li>No real strategy </li></ul><ul><li>No real budget </li></ul><ul><li>Not much traffic </li></ul><ul><li>No real metrics </li></ul>
    5. 5. Step 1: All Hands on Deck!
    6. 6. Step 2: Create more content <ul><li>Digital version of the magazine </li></ul><ul><li>Daily content updated on website </li></ul><ul><li>Podcasts, videos, blogs </li></ul><ul><li>User-generated content </li></ul>
    7. 7. Step 3: SEO Strategy Tips for Search Engine Success <ul><li>Redundancy of keywords is a good thing, good thing </li></ul><ul><li>Use meta keywords and description on the back-end </li></ul><ul><li>Write headlines that are descriptive of the article content </li></ul>
    8. 8. Step 4: Proactive Promotion
    9. 9. Proactive promotion: RSS
    10. 10. Proactive promotion: Sharing
    11. 11. Proactive promotion: YouTube
    12. 12. LinkedIn
    13. 13. Proactive promotion: Facebook
    14. 14. Proactive Promotion: Twitter
    15. 15. Where we are now… <ul><li>1to1 Media site traffic improved by 77 percent from July 2008 to </li></ul><ul><li>May 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Search engine referrals increased by 69 percent </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter, Google, and LinkedIn among top referring websites </li></ul>
    16. 16. Challenges <ul><li>RESOURCES!!! This stuff takes time! </li></ul><ul><li>All Hands on Deck model means no one owner </li></ul><ul><li>Balance content with functionality </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes hard to measure ROI </li></ul>
    17. 17. 1to1 Media’s Web 2.0 Experience Elizabeth Glagowski Managing Editor, Interactive 1to1 Media [email_address] @1to1MediaEditor eglagowski eglagowski