Ben Erdos, Chief Services Officer, Total Media Solutions
Website visitors come in various shapes and sizes.
There are brand enthusiasts who log on regularly and are willing to pay for a premium service, or those loyal visitors, who are ever so slightly less enthusiastic, but still visit occasionally to dip their toes in.
And then there are flyby users: visitors that are there only fleetingly, often for their first — and only — time.
All of these users behave differently and have varying expectations from a publisher’s digital offering. While a focus on loyal visitors can seem the key to success, enhancing the experience of flyby users is key to growing audiences.
So how can these flyby users be converted into ardent brand enthusiasts?
Spinning a Web
Capturing flyby users is an important part of any publisher’s audience growth strategy. With these visitors coming from website click-throughs or social media, their attention has to be grabbed immediately — it takes the average visitor 2.6 seconds to form an impression of a website.
It’s clear that first impressions matter. Not only does a site have to look visually stimulating, but it needs to look reliable. Three-quarters of a visitor’s perception about the credibility of a website comes from its design. Optimising user experience (UX) with a crisp, clear layout, and concise, easy-to-use functions also goes a long way.
Tools such as Google’s Lighthouse and GTmetrix are useful to audit website speed performance and can suggest changes to publishers that improve load times.
While flyby users might read an article or watch a video from start to finish, it’s more likely they’ll skim the webpage lightly before clicking out. With a human’s attention span now only around eight seconds long, there is only a very short period to entice users to stay onsite.
Placing highly visible internal links to related content not only increases the chance of flyby users staying longer, but also gives them a better insight into a publisher’s unique offering — and enhances the chance of them becoming a return visitor.
As the loss of third party-data looms closer, a majority of publishers are putting subscriptions at the core of their revenue strategy. To ensure the success of this, publishers will not only have to capture the attention of flyby users, but will have to convince them — and already regular visitors — to part with their hard earned cash.
While engaging content needs to be a priority, there are a number of ways publishers can enhance their subscription offerings.
First-party data is seen by both publishers and advertisers as a way to fill the gap left by the loss of cookies.
Publishers can harness this data further to inform their content strategy. Metrics such as “most viewed pages” and “time spent on page” allows publishers to view what content is chiming with audiences and tailor future content appropriately, while retaining a unique voice.
Building the Right Paywall
There are multiple paywall options for publishers, and deciding how to implement one is key to a successful subscriber-based strategy. Hard paywalls can be successful for publishers with large but niche audiences, such as the Financial Times, but this hard lock-out may not work for smaller publishers — especially those looking to grow brand awareness.
The New York Times has led the way with metered or soft paywalls, recently announcing its subscriber base has grown to 10 million. These more dynamic forms of paywalls can be hard to implement and may take some time before the right cost-to-content balance is reached, but prove an effective middle ground for growing reach and increasing subscriber revenue.
A further method may be to offer subscribers exclusive content. In-depth examination of audience data is invaluable when building a successful subscription model.
Building relationships with audiences is not a quick process, and there are no quick cookie-cutter answers.
Flyby users represent growth for all publishers, but this growth needs to be continually nurtured with patience, nuance and an analytical mindset. Not all of them will become loyal, paid subscribers but that does not mean they should be shrugged off.
Even the briefest visitors can be a source of valuable first-party data.
Disclaimer: The views, opinions and ideas expressed in this post belong to the author/s and do not necessarily reflect those held by State of Digital Publishing.