If you have lots of traffic, you need to learn the best engagement and monetization models for big sites.

With the right strategy, high volumes of traffic can earn you high volumes of income. The key to successfully monetizing big, content-rich websites is user engagement.

In this article, we’ll go over the monetization and engagement models that make the most sense for big sites with lots of traffic.

Choosing the Right Monetization and Engagement Model

How do you choose the best engagement and monetization model for your website?

First, you need to look at the essential ingredients required for monetizing a large site:

  • Content – Big websites regularly produce large amounts of content. This keeps them in the spotlight across a mix of marketing channels, from search to social. The content is usually the primary draw and driver for a site – it’s the reason people keep coming back. Content is necessary to keep users engaged. But since content is free, website owners will need to develop another monetization strategy.
  • Traffic – The second key component to any big website’s monetization strategy is traffic. The more you have, the more likely they are to engage with monetization methods, whether it’s advertising, affiliate links, or products.
  • An Engagement Strategy – Since large sites rely on traffic and content, it’s in your best interest to capture that traffic as it flows in. As we’ll cover below, a good engagement strategy will cover the marketing funnel from end to end, from the moment customers discover your content to the time they finish reading it.
  • Monetization Strategies – Elsewhere on this blog, we’ve covered monetization strategies extensively. Certain monetization strategies are ideal for large websites, while others are more suited to low-traffic sites or businesses that don’t focus exclusively on content.

Creating the Right Models for Your Site

Let’s explore best practices when engaging and monetizing audiences on large websites:

Engagement and retention should be the primary focus of your site, with a monetization strategy that operates in the background.

When you build a large website, all of your marketing tactics, web design strategies and content creation should be aimed at user engagement and user retention.

View content as the “sales vehicle” for your website, which then keeps users reading, listening, and watching. This content should not be salesy or pushy. The purpose is to keep users occupied while your monetization model operates in the background.

At some point, however, you will need to push people towards an action. A good approach is to engage people through recommended content or a pop-up, for instance. But it’s best to wait until you have engaged them first: establish a connection before compelling action.

Without an action at the bottom of a sales funnel, you won’t be able to turn traffic into users – a necessary step if you wish to retain those visitors and turn them into repeat “customers.”

Engaging content means striking the right balance between specialization and generalization.

A tech blog would earn more visitors than a blog about mobile apps. And a mobile app blog would earn more visitors than a blog about mobile app development. This blog would, in turn, earn more visitors than a blog about mobile app development for Android.

There are a few things to keep in mind when considering your content topic:

  • Too much specialization will shrink your audience and your site.
  • Topics that are too broad will include content that is irrelevant to many, decreasing engagement.
  • Sites with mass appeal are already entrenched across every vertical, so it will likely be impossible to engage users that are loyal to another brand.

Large audiences are best suited to certain types of monetization models.

If you are an individual or operate a small team, certain monetization strategies will be less realistic than others.

Here are a few monetization methods that work well for large sites:

  • Advertising
  • Content Recommendation and Search Monetization
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Information Products
  • Premium Content and Memberships

Some, however, are more suited to service- and product-driven businesses:

  • Speaking Gigs
  • Services and Products
  • Consulting and Coaching

There can certainly be overlap. But, in general, when your content is the primary sales vehicle for your website, you can’t stray too far outside this mission. Offer too many monetization strategies and you’ll risk straying outside the scope of your mission.

And mission creep will inevitably alienate certain portions of your audience, create confusion, and decrease engagement.

Put usability first and the money will follow.

The user experience has become the focus for huge sites like Facebook. A website that doesn’t help users accomplish goals won’t make money.

On the one hand, this means you should create content that is relevant, implement a user interface that is easy to understand, and give users what they want. On the other, it means your monetization strategy should blend into the background, be non-interruptive, and even add value to the end user.

In today’s world, where many have become deterred by advertising and marketing, it’s imperative to focus on ads that add to the user experience.

Native advertising, on-site search monetization, and content recommendation systems are examples of monetization strategies that work with the user instead of against them.