The main driver behind content creation has always been motivated by finding audience, figuring out what they want and thinking of ways to engage with them. The biggest challenge in the process though is growing them and sustaining their interest.
If you’re a publisher, you probably already know that sometimes growing your audience doesn’t come along with hard work or even editorial talent. Sooner or later, you will come across a growth plateau. But audience plateaus isn’t a time for panic. Nor is it a time to quit. Instead, a plateau is a resting point to re-evaluate your strategy to develop and expand your audience.
If you happen to be at this stage in your site or publication’s life cycle, here are Ted Karczewski‘s 4 tips to help you prevent major traffic dips in the future and continue driving new eyes to your content:
- Partner with a content discovery platform like Outbrain, Taboola, or even LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. We worked with Bizo (now LinkedIn) to develop a retargeting program that would drive past visitors to new editorial content through display ads. Instead of promoting landing pages with conversion points, we opted in some cases to simply offer free articles in hopes of building trust and increasing newsletter subscriptions.
- Look at your newsletter as a separate platform. When we first noticed a growing number of subscriptions to our newsletter, we knew we had to rethink our approach to email marketing. Instead of blasting five random articles to our subscribers, we took a strategic approach to curation, building out themes for each newsletter combined with a note for the editors on why that theme matters today. When a big trend breaks, we send one-off editorial notes to our audience in a conversational and helpful tone. Now, our newsletter is one of our most-powerful amplification tactics because it leverages a baked-in audience that we can tap into at anytime.
- Find and love third-party newsletters. Once your branded content hub becomes a credible and established resource in your industry, you’ll begin to see pick up in third-party, industry-relevant newsletters. Just this past week, a newsletter drove nearly 2,000 views to a single piece of content in a matter of hours, and we didn’t do any heavy lifting at all. But don’t look at these events as one-off opportunities you can’t influence. Be sure to identify the source of these traffic bursts and work out a partnership program that benefits both parties. Earned media doesn’t have to always be in the form of media mentions—newsletters can be just as powerful.
- Influencers, but have something to offer. I’m increasingly turned off by the idea of influencer marketing, but I still recognize its importance. When you have a loyal reader base, you likely have a few subscribers who also have massive followings of their own. Instead of looking at industry influencers, identify audience members who are already bought in and want to get more involved with your brand. You’ll find it’s easier to work with people who believe in the message you’re presenting, rather than trying to convince (or pay) those who don’t know much about you. I’m a firm believe that customer advocates are more powerful than social media influencers.
Like almost every part of building your site or publication, growing your audience is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s important to be as proactive as possible in digital publishing. Good news is, each time you’re able to gain back momentum, it also gets easier each time to hedge your publication from audience plateaus and traffic declines, thanks to the power of knowing your already existing audience!
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