First lets understand where your web traffic might come from and where you would ideally like the traffic to come from.
Direct Visitor - This visitor saw your url on the publication for example. (typically brings in the least amount of readers to your site)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - The reader searched for your publication on google or for community publications in general and found yours.
Social Media - Posting articles, community info, etc. to your twitter, facebook, pinterest, etc.
Friend Referral - Someone other than you shares your content which is way more valuable than you, the publisher, sharing a story or calendar event)
Email Newsletter - Maybe less talked about versus social media but is very valuable to keep readers coming back. (checkout constant contact or mailchimp for ways to create newsletters)
Offline Calls To Action - A graphic in the publication that informs the reader that there is additional content on your site such as event info, additional photo gallery, contest, etc. (See below)
Ford Motor Company has increased their conversion rate by 15% with a call to action where viewers of the tv commercial would text a number for information regarding auto loan qualifications.
The last thing you want is for your print audience to visit your site and leave seconds later to possibly not return. Why would they do that? There might not be anything of value worth reading, hard to navigate or the content exactly the same as what they will find in the print publication.
Here are ways to engage the reader.
- Create call to action graphics - Very valuable. Create a button on your site that links to additional photos for an article, other stories that had to be cut from the printed version, expanded calendar of events that couldn't fit in the print version, reader polls, review contest, etc. Also you can create a call to action graphic to place on the printed publication informing the reader that there is additional content on your site that's exclusive to the site or complements the article for example. We do this in our real estate publications by putting a graphic next to home listing that takes the reader to video tour of that home.
- Make timely and relevant updates to the site - Will keep the search engines actively crawling your site and will keep the reader returning for the latest community news.
- Feature exclusive content & further insights - To keep the site fresh, add more info to a printed article with additional content or even articles that are not printed but are only featured online. This way your author and/or photographer can shoot more photos that will be exclusively for the site. Also you can post news in between print runs that may not need a full two page spread in the next print version.
- Post curated content - Your reader doesn't want to see news or pictures of other places that doesn't have anything to do with the community so filter the content to be relevant about area businesses, fundraisers, events, etc. Always link to the sites you reference.
- Post things to do in the community - Highlight attractions, local restaurants, ways to beat the heat in summer, outdoor recreation spots in the area and more. Again always link to the businesses, locations, etc. highlighted.
- Feature money savings and freebies - Everyone likes to save a buck so you can partner with a local business for local deals. It's a win-win for you and a local business who are your readers as well. Link to the businesses and have info about these businesses.
- Show your pride in the community - Highlight little know facts about your community, cool neighborhoods, local trends, historic places, population growth, business leaders that make an impact, etc. Link to the places you post about.
- Feature social content found on your site in the print version - You can add an article highlighting a poll that you posted the month prior on your site, talk about what your online readers love about your community or
So here is a helpful technique. Post your articles, event info, galleries, reader polls, contest, etc. Make sure each post is shareable, easy to read and looking good. Then create an "In this issue" post that summarized what will be featured about this issue on the site. Create a graphic that links to the "In this issue" post, feature this graphic on your front page in a sidebar. Think of it as your Editor's Letter in your publication. Then below the text and cover image insert lists to the articles linking to each post. Build it out. It really helps SEO. In the "In this issue" post you can have the flip book featured but it is recommended that you don't just put a link to it where the reader is taken to another page. That flip book host will get the traffic not you. So embedding the digital book will be the best option so the reader stays on your site. Then if you want to promote the digital edition then share the "In this issue" link so they will see more content. Update the graphic and links for each publication. When you update this post with each issue it creates an archive.
The local content on the site consist of articles about the community, business information and events. Expand on the business information with reviews, readers choice, etc. and always link to that business. Post information about valentines day events, christmas sales, 5k or 10k runs, show sponsored content, partnered business specials and more, again always link out to the sites the post feature.
Advertisers will want to advertise on a active, content rich and engaging site verses just a static, dull site. So keep the site worth coming back to. It's more valuable to have other readers and advertisers share your content rather that you do all the sharing.
Hope this formation helps publishers gain more attention and readership.