In theory this sounds like a good idea and that it would work, but I am looking for some proof or experience.
1) Has anyone seen a decent number of repeat visitors coming for articles on a site, if it is announced new ones will be put up weekly?
2) Has anyone had experince with this and resulting in more interactivity on the site? (this would be the desired effect)
Anyone have any interesting ways to get this desired effect? (can't use forums)
Why can't you use forums?
This seems to be the best way to get interactivity.
News pages - with links on to your front page with a news scroll is another potential way to achieve this. You can then also allow users to add the scroller code to their own site as long as it pulls the latest article headlines from your site.
We don't want to use forums.....it's not that we can't. The reason is that we have other sites to maintain and work on, and with forums we worry about someone posting something negative or anything of this nature and us not catching it for awhile.
What about free contests?
We tried it with some success on a couple of B2C sites.
Combine new articles with an announcement newsletter, and actively encourage mailing list members to contribute articles for publication and / or to comment on what you've written.
It can take a while to take off, but I've had decent results.
(and you get free content as well - wahey!)
that's what I have on there right now....no feedback yet
I realize this thread’s a bit old but I'm interested in the subject and, specifically, the 'sugarkane option'. I’d be interested to know if you decided on any specific tactic and whether you're willing to let us know what its results have been.
|"Combine new articles with an announcement newsletter, and actively encourage mailing list members to contribute articles for publication and / or to comment on what you've written." |
This seems to be the most sensible route. Why? Because it's the one I, as a user, prefer.
There's so much stuff out there that we tend to trawl the same seas for whatever it is we need to fill our nets. From the user end, I tend to use two methods.
- Staying in touch with one or two forums by letting them run all day or by visiting them on a regular basis.
- Getting the site to alert me to new content whenever it puts up something new.
In this business, it's a case of so many sites, so little gray matter (on my side of the skull partition anyway). There are hundreds of information sources out there I cannot use because my neurons would short, my cerebral cortex would smolder, and my brain would burst into flame.
So I'm selective and, using the latter method, I don't clog my inbox with more spam than that which is generated by most of the half-baked excuses serving as search engines.
This willingness to be alerted to new content does not, however, translate into comment on what is said in the linked article. More often than not, the article is a satisfactory summation of knowledge not yet properly assimilated. It therefore inspires no comment.
This is not to say it's a bad piece. As a rule, I return most frequently to sites generating articles eliciting little response. Why? Because they're saying what I want them to say or they're teaching me something new. They're not getting up my nose by being offensive or getting things wrong. Hence no comment on your recent SitePoint articles about themes. More than being on the button, they gave a valuable pointer to the broader discussions around related issues on these forums. What more could one ask for? The only possible comment was “Thank you very much.”
The alternative, forums, is a completely different medium. Unlike an article, which posits “what is”, the mouthings and soundings off of forum contributors allows one to construct one’s own reality and interpretation of it.
Forums seem to invite musings to reach an open, indeterminate conclusion. Articles, on the other hand, put forward hypotheses, conclusions, or a series of facts and, unless they are an exmple of the first or they raise further questions, they are generally – and particularly in a field such as search – closed ended.
So, a lack of comment is not an indication of reader disinterest. It might instead be a tacit signal to deliver more of the same.
It’s just a pity that there’s no clear distinction between those remaining silent because they appreciate a site’s content and those whose silence indicates they’ve moved on. Only the request for updates distinguishes the two and, even there, because of inertia, many do not cancel subscriptions to alerts.
|”…and actively encourage mailing list members to contribute articles for publication…” |
This might well be the key to distinguishing those able to promote a site’s interests and those who merely appreciate it as another welcome stimulus to their already wired minds :).
It certainly seems well worth a try…
I have one client who is building a powerhouse of a site that serves a very specific professional community. Early on they engaged an internationally known figure in their discipline to write regular (monthly, not weekly) articles, and they also have a sign-up for email notification. This "primer" material was paid for, but...
The traffic booms. Other professionals are now approaching them for the HONOR and visibility that having their articles published on the site can mean. Free, top quality material.
And in the end, the site is about sales and support for a stable of products that this community uses. It's very much a win-win situation. And, as a moderator here on WmW, I can tell you that it takes a lot more work to maintain a hopping forum than it does to build with professional articles. Of course, you're not really comparing apples to apples, either.
As of yesterday, this site's homepage had a Google PR of 7/10, (up from a 1/10 not too far back) -- related sites are linking to the articles and other site features because they really serve the professional community, so other sites often don't ask for a reciprocal link.
I can't say this would be as successful in every realm -- this particular site is serving a unique international community. But the "sugarkane" solution is working beautifully for them.
I'd agree, it is well worth a try.
Try Quizes with large and updated data bases.
We have a high percentage of repeat users. We have onlines version of 5 magazines. We also update our frontpage articles daily. Shoot me an email or stickymail if you want to talk.
>half-baked excuses serving as search engines.
ditto. hehe. If we could ever get those guys to put their halves together, they'd have an awesome se.
>This willingness to be alerted to new content does not
You have to disguise it as a newsletter. Start with a full blown newsletter for 4 issues, and then transition to more and more "pointer" stories linking to your content on your site.
Think of one top SE newsletter (we all subscribe too). It went from large deep content rich articles to basically content announcements. I'll bet it has made a 10 fold increase in traffic at that site.
>The only possible comment was Thank you very much.
Agreed. Thanks Andrew.
>Forums seem to invite musings to reach an open,
>indeterminate conclusion. Articles, on the other hand
There is also a 3rd option: The article with the opportunity for feedback at the end of the article. Like some of the magazine sites are doing. I'm going to experiment with that this month. I think it is a fascinating approach to generate interactivity.
>actively encourage mailing
>list members to contribute articles
I think that depends entirely on the topic sugarkane. I tried it with a couple of sites and got a whole log of nothing for submissions. Promo laced and amateur stuff that wasn't fit for publication.
Interesting that you think the newsletter generates more click throughs.
I tend not to read newsletters which are not newsletters but links lists.
It usually goes like this for me:
Sign up to newsletter
Read first issue - unsub if I don't like it
Read continuing issues - unsub if content becomes thin
Generally I like my news delivered in full. If I want to research something in depth I will search anyway.
|Think of one top SE newsletter (we all subscribe too). It went from large deep content rich articles to basically content announcements. I'll bet it has made a 10 fold increase in traffic at that site. |
“Hehe” as some would say. It’s also led to a market susceptible to the wiles of the marketing mind, a staunch collection of followers keen to glean every bit of information they can from that particular site. In other words, it’s a market likely to buy and promote expensive off-site publications emanating from those running the site.
Nobody said making money on the Web was going to be easy and this is one model that demonstrates and overcomes the obstacles separating the vendor from his or her market. Build credibility and visibility through content, build up a loyal following (through the myriad means available off site), suck your market closer to you, and then get them to ante up for all you’ve given them while adding value to the original product.
This way, you get to carry the freeloaders and profit, in a subtle way, from those keen to get their hands and minds on more. This particular example shows up the gauche strategies of publications such as Salon [salon.com] for the hit-and-run tactics they are. Their marketing of ‘premium content’ boils down to: “Pay up or p*** off.” I’m willing to bet Salon doesn’t generate as much business per viewer online or offline as the site we’re talking about.
In many ways, publications like Salon are still hanging on to the ad revenue-generating model. They’re chasing advertisers on the promise of subscription revenue but are using the advertising revenue they get to cover those readers they’re alienating by their ‘all or nothing’ approach.
The nut of it is that the move from ‘free’ to ‘pay’ has to be a subtle process of drawing in or bonding more closely with an existing market dependent, to a degree, on your content. As you point out Brett, it all stems from the slow process of increasingly using links to draw your followers closer to you by diminishing the content of opt-in freebies. The knack is to hold on to free subscribers like Ian :). To do this you need to offer - in your newsletter - enough content to be useful but promise (and deliver) far more on site…
|”The article with the opportunity for feedback at the end of the article.“ |
This would be particularly useful for a site such as this, where users are familiar with interactivity. While many sites offer the option, few readers seem to go for it. This is particularly true of journalism or ‘new media’ sites. From what I’ve seen, a reluctance to participate has more to do with the subject matter than with anything else. If everything’s been said, what’s to add? The article has to raise questions rather than give answers.
Many content sites try to get around this problem by running forums from the main site. This has its advantages, but only if you generate enough traffic. There’s nothing sadder than watching the tortuous attempts of some to get their forums going.
Outdated posts make for depressing reading … they’re rather like voices in space – you know they’re trying to say something, but they’re speaking into a vacuum. Likewise, the forum that’s in irreversible decline is not a pretty sight. A downward trend can only be reversed through a change in that which generates the discussion, i.e. the site’s content.
On the one hand, and to use Salon as an example again, their readership is loyal and repeat visits are the norm. The publication’s Table Talk section provides a sustainable and busy forum where readers can sound off about content. It doesn’t serve a useful purpose though because most using it appear to do so in a way that suggests a need for therapy rather than public exposure. Here again, we have an example of a publication wherein the article tends to be closed ended rather than open to informed discussion.
On the other hand, Online Journalism Review [ojr.usc.edu]’s content comprises opinion, is open ended by nature, and offers a good example of a publication eliciting interaction and numerous informed responses from readers.
Like the first site alluded to, they're successfully forming a partnership with their readers.
I guess it all boils down to the old question of getting the mix right. In other words, when all else fails, go back to the basics…:)
"This would be particularly useful for a site such as this, where users are familiar with interactivity" (quoted from PageCount)
Agerhart, while not very experienced, I do believe that the audience of your site will dictate the level of feedback or responsiveness that can be obtained from article readership.
There are many, many articles out there - and - it seems to me in my experience that article generation may build repeat visitors, but not aid in the true fact of the site. I say this because: if your site's main goal is to sell something, and your articles are for the more well informed (aka: not looking to buy!), then you will end up trying to cater to two entirely different crowds in order to maintain or improve upon traffic flow.
While I can't give any good evidence to support that, it just seems logical that it would be difficult to make the best of both...
Just a thought or two, and at the least - only my $.02
|I think that depends entirely on the topic sugarkane. I tried it with a couple of sites and got a whole log of nothing for submissions. Promo laced and amateur stuff that wasn't fit for publication |
Yeah, it's only suitable for some sites, but where it fits in it's a winner IMHO.
We do get a lot of unpublishable stuff sent, but anything that's half-decent we ask permission to 'tidy it up' (ie rewrite). Occasionally we get some real gems as well.
If you're at all aiming for a 'community' feel then having a customer's work on the site can work wonders with their loyalty, and we even go so far as to hint that the pro-written stuff is actually from customers, to help develop the community feel.
Having a forum is a great idea if you have quite a few loyal vistors.
It's content that keeps people coming back. I'd suggest you have a spotlight section on your main page with an eye-catching graphic when you add new articles. That keeps me going to back to sites. Knowing that there will be new info added!
Anyway you can communicate: "this page is changing all the time" works. As long as you are packing relevant info.
I've produced travel-related content sites for five years, and if there's one thing I've learned during that time, it's that some topics don't lend themselves to repeat visitors.
European travel and Jane Austen are two good examples of topics that inevitably will have considerable audience "churn." In the case of European travel, visitors will show up when they're planning a trip to Europe--which may be once a year, once in a decade, or even once in a lifetime. In the case of Jane Austen, most visitors will be students who are writing school assignments and will never return after they've finished their term papers.
Some e-commerce sites will have the same "here today, gone tomorrow" traffic pattern. If you're selling sea tortoises as pets, you may not see the average buyer again, since your product may outlive the customer. :-)
Of course, if you *do* have a topic or product that lends itself to repeat visitors, a newsletter can be a great traffic-building tool. But if that isn't the case--if churn goes with your territory--it may be best to focus your efforts on maximizing traffic from search engines and directories.