How Business.com Increased Subscriptions by 65% in 2015
Pageviews are not enough for online success. While high traffic is a great first step in audience development, it’s what a reader does once they have accessed a publisher’s site that really matters, says Business.com CEO Tony Uphoff. Repeat visits, time spent, clicks, and conversions are critical benchmarks of success and are some of the most important metrics that B2B site Business.com is keen on tracking explains Uphoff. The site, which provides management advice and strategies to companies of all sizes, has grown its traffic to over 5 million pagviews a month and boasts a newsletter subscription list topping 1 million names by developing a strategy focused on nurturing visitors into loyal audience members.
Uphoff credits much of that success to the revamp of Business.com 15 months ago and the integration of a custom data management platform with the website. The new platform allows Business.com to track visitor activity and serve up custom reading experiences based on past user behavior. These capabilities allow Business.com to keep new visitors returning to the site and nurture them towards conversion, says Uphoff. Since implementing the data management platform in conjunction with the site relaunch, Business.com has seen a 300% increase in organic traffic and a 65% increase in subscriptions. Here Uphoff explains how Business.com is using this data management platform and offers strategies any publisher can implement to grow traffic and build a loyal online audience.
What strategies has Business.com implemented to increase traffic to its website and grow its audience?
We focus our organic audience development strategy around discoverability and engagement. This encompasses SEO, social, and email to attract and grow our audience as well as generate repeat visits.
There is no magic to SEO today. The search engines reward high-quality, original content. One of our core editorial philosophies is that business people today are far more interested in learning how to do something rather than in simply reading about something. We take this approach seriously and it is the foundation of Business.com’s Market Expert content community program, which provides insight from actual practitioners and, in turn, generates engaging content.
We also take a brand publishing approach, which means, in addition to publishing content on our site, we publish 100% of our content across the social networks of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. On email we’ve created what we call “Of the Day” content -- such as the business “Quote of the Day” and “Hack of the Day” -- along with weekly email newsletters by topic and theme.
How is Business.com tracking visitors as they move down the acquisition funnel toward an email subscription?
We rebuilt the entire platform of Business.com about 15 months ago in order to better leverage advanced technology, benefitting both our audience and our marketing customers. Our own internal data platform, code named Finch, allows us to view and track every visit to our site. We track a large number of metrics on every visit, which allows us to do three main things: 1.) Continually improve the audience experience by adapting the site to their interests and intentions via their click behavior; 2.) Provide a natural nurture experience that contextually encourages email registration; and 3.) Improve the advertising experience by providing the ability to deliver truly contextual and relevant advertising. While we built our own platform, there are also commercial data platforms available for publishers today. Retrofitting legacy websites with new technology can be a challenge.
How is Business.com enticing return visits and ultimately conversions?
Repeat visits are a challenge in today’s search and social media driven world. In order to encourage repeat visits we focus on several key initiatives: 1.) Episodic content: We create two- or three-part posts that provide practical, hands-on knowledge for readers. 2.) Personalization: We leverage the technology we’ve developed to provide a more personalized experience based on a reader’s click behavior, on site and via email newsletters. 3.) Email: We provide a range of email newsletters, both daily to weekly, that provide a wealth of relatable content that brings readers back to the site.
Do publishers need to hire new talent to execute this kind of online audience development strategy?
While the fundamentals of audience development haven’t changed, the technologies and some of the techniques certainly have. I would note in particular the need for publishers to have people who understand advanced email marketing techniques and technology, including marketing automation, as well as people with experience in social media and the use of data to drive personalization.
Any other advice to magazine publishers struggling to convert site visitors into regular readers and subscribers?
There is a quote about today’s internet: “Built for everyone, resonating with no one.” Publishers should pay close attention to that concept. In the pre-Penguin/Panda era of SEO, many publishers focused on gaming out the search engines and using click-bait techniques in order to drive traffic. Start with your content. High-quality traffic and engagement is ultimately created by providing unique, quality content and making it easy for audiences to discover it. Trying to be all things to all people online actually works against your organic traffic efforts. Having a clear market and audience focus with your content aids in discoverability and engagement. Make sure you are using responsive design and you’ve optimized the mobile experience for your visitors. If it makes sense for your site, consider developing a mobile app. Make sure you are publishing your content across the social platforms to increase your reach while not sacrificing your focus.
Related story: How Publishers Used Data in 2015