There are 3 main ways that user engagement tools work to help publishers promote and monetize content:
- Driving Traffic
- Monetizing Visitors
- Enhancing Engagement
When you have these 3 ingredients, then you can funnel traffic to your site, monetize it, and increase your on-site engagement.
Let’s look at each factor in detail to see how user engagement tools can help you make more money from your content.
How User Engagement Tools Drive Traffic
Without users, you have no one to engage.
A high volume of high quality users will help you make your content and your website profitable. So driving traffic is the first step towards engaging that traffic.
Typically, user engagement tools that drive traffic are recommendation engines. Like the systems that power Amazon’s recommended products and YouTube’s recommended videos, these tools deliver targeted content to an end user.
When these recommendation engines operate on external websites, they funnel users to the promoter’s site. On popular websites, you have probably seen sections at the end of articles that recommend content from third parties.
In the same way that any ad network targets ads contextually, these content recommendation systems deliver recommendations based on a page’s content. Tracking and analytics can also help improve targeting based on a visitor’s interests and tastes.
How User Engagement Tools Monetize Traffic
Just as advertisers will pay for ad space, publishers will pay to have their content promoted.
If you are a publisher with a content-rich website, then you can monetize your own website by recommending content from third-party websites. The advantage to content recommendation systems is that they work by delivering contextualized, real-time value to the user.
A user reading about diet tips, for instance, may be served third-party or in-site content that is directly related to the article he or she is viewing. While that user may consider an ad to be intrusive or spammy, a content recommendation adds relevant information at just the right time.
Another way that user engagement tools monetize traffic is with in-site search. SiteFuel, for instance, includes an on-site search tool that delivers results in an intuitive, visually rich grid. These results are accompanied by targeted, relevant content from around the web.
Users are then exposed to immediately useful content, while publishers on both sides win. The promoter drives traffic while the on-site search provider earns revenue.
Also, user engagement tools can deliver native ads within content streams. Native ads incorporate the best of both advertising and content: they deliver information users find useful and the promotion desired by advertisers.
Native ads are common in media publications, but social media networks are also going native. Sponsored posts and sponsored tweets are examples of native ads. Since they deliver relevant content instead of blatant advertising, they stand a greater chance of being noticed and engaged with.
How These Tools Enhance User Engagement
Today’s digital content marketplace is a competition for attention spans. Publishers’ main goal, therefore, is to keep users on-site as long as possible.
Bounce rate is something every website owner wants to reduce. Although it’s inevitable that users will eventually bounce from a site, the longer you can hold on to them, the better it will be for your site.
Increasing engagement, therefore, is the solution many publishers turn to. While it’s true that creating great content, optimizing website design, and studying analytics are necessary, user engagement tools take it a step further.
Another feature offered by many user engagement tools is the ability to recirculate traffic within a site. This helps focus your own traffic on the right content, so you can hold on to visitors for longer periods of time.
Often in the same area where you will find recommended content from third-party sites, the same module will simultaneously recommend content from your own site. The result is increased page views and increased time on site.
Naturally, since other publishers can promote content on your site, you can do the same on external sites. Doing so will increase your presence around the web, meaning more brand awareness and greater engagement.
Why You Should Use User Engagement Tools
Simply put, internet technology requires automation.
Cisco predicts that by 2019, the amount of video-on-demand traffic will equal 7 billion DVDs per month. The indexed web contains around 47 billion web pages…and that number is growing every day. According to scientists in the UK, it would take around 136 billion 8 ½ by 11 sheets of paper to print it all out.
In other words, humans cannot keep up.
From recommendation engines to programmatic advertising, automation is necessary to deliver personalized content to web users. Media outlets, publishers, and website owners who don’t implement user engagement tools will suffer higher bounce rates.
Decreased engagement, of course, means more attention could be going to competitors.
As we move into 2016, user engagement tools will become more and more common…and more and more necessary for businesses to compete.