How content creators can grow engaged audiences during holiday traffic spikes

Black Friday and Cyber Monday direct traffic drove 27% of online sales last year, according to Practical Ecommerce. However, online retailers don’t have to be the only beneficiaries of engaged audiences over the holiday — digital-first creators can also capitalize on these types of events.

Below, we provide five tactics digital media organizations can quickly implement for the expected boosts in traffic.

1. Get your audience engagement plan in order

Set yourself up for success by making sure you can make real-time adjustments when traffic ramps up. 

Chartbeat users can:

Sign up for daily performance reports. Select reports for your entire site or a specific section or author, as shown below.

Create recurring daily reports for the week of the event. Use our Advanced Queries reporting system to take a deep dive into the content that drove the most traffic to your site.

Any content creator can:

Analyze the most popular stories. This allows you to promote your best content.

Find missed opportunities to increase your reach. There can always be more heft behind your promotion efforts. Spend time with great content that may need better placement or on-page optimizations.

(Not a Chartbeat user? See how our real-time tools can help)

2. Optimize your content for Recirculation

With strong content and an even better SEO strategy in place, it would be logical to assume more visitors are coming to your site. Similar to how retailers try to increase consumers’ cart sizes by recommending complementary items, content creators can use the tenets of Recirculation to encourage deeper reading.

Some further tips:

  1. Focus on cross-linking, giving visitors more chances to go deeper into your site.
  2. Conduct a section analysis and find stories that have low Recirculation. Filter by section in your Real-time Dashboard (as shown below) and from there, you can evaluate why that may be the case.
  3. Analyze “Next Pages” in real-time for top stories to understand the impact of your Recirculation efforts.
real-time-dashboard

3. Adjust your SEO strategy to account for new readers

About 21% of online sales were driven from organic search over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period, according to the aforementioned Practical Ecommerce data. Think of this as your chance to drive more readers towards your content with elevated SEO tactics.

Getting towards or near the top of the SERP (search engine results page) is critical — your links should appear when readers want more information on a specific topic. 

Keep working towards your ultimate brand goals — readers should know and trust your brand any time, not just prior to a major event. For everything else, there’s tools you can use now so search engines reward your efforts on the SERP. SEMrush, for instance, offers a free version to help you improve visibility on search engines.

4. Get more eyes on your video content

Curation is critical for sites that feature videos. Our data tells us that video viewers who watch for a significant amount of time or watch multiple videos during their first visit are more likely to return and watch another video during the following seven days. Knowing this viewer behavior, optimize your videos and build on the investment you’re putting into this channel. 

To start, make sure videos are paired with relevant content. If engagement is still lower than expected, take a step further and ask these two questions:

  1. Can the thumbnail be improved? If so, select a new image that will drive more interest.
  2. Where is the video placed on the page? Use the scroll depth indicator to make sure it’s high enough that readers have a chance to watch it.

5. Capitalize on loyal visitors to your site

Building trust with new and returning readers is important any time, but now you have a chance during periods of higher-than-usual traffic. Loyal readers consume more than double the content of non-loyal readers, so the experience you provide today will increase the likelihood they come back again.

  1. Think long term — do not just help people find deals or related information right now, but give them an opportunity to think of you as a trusted site going forward.
  2. Put your best content front and center. This will help new visitors know that you’re not a flash in the holiday pan. It can also contribute to their long-term commitment and loyalty towards your site.

(For more on this topic, see: Demystifying reader loyalty metrics with the Membership Puzzle Project)

High traffic events: It’s all about planning

Holidays such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be likened to a breaking news event, but with the added benefit of getting time to prepare for what’s to come.

Plan ahead

It shouldn’t take months to get ahead of holiday content planning. The playbook is already part of your multi-channel efforts. Now it’s a matter of setting up the reports and using your data playbook once you see real-time engagement. Here’s how.

Create Recirculation opportunities

Once readers arrive, give them more reasons to stay. Capitalize on your direct traffic through better Recirculation — more on how to start here.

Optimize your SEO strategy

How do readers currently interact with your brand? Regardless of whether you’re an authority on holiday coverage or building a broader SEO strategy, complement Chartbeat with keyword insights so that your content is prominently displayed in search engine results. 

Get your video strategy in order

Video promotion and optimization is a hefty investment — give this channel the best chance for success. Pair videos with complementary content and make them simple to view on both desktop and mobile experiences.

Build trust, drive loyalty

Engagement is a powerful tool, even more so when leveraged towards reader loyalty. Give readers a positive experience that can transcend the typical holiday visit. More on defining loyalty here.


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