5 Strategies to Optimize a Media Site

Increasing traffic is key to converting more visitors to leads (and consecutively, customers) or generating some extra ad revenue.

Monetization and ad platforms occasionally come with minimum traffic requirements, hence the need for regularly boosting numbers through genuine organic campaigns, promotional pieces, partnership opportunities and other techniques combined with sponsored publications for maximum impact.

Higher traffic also results in a better overall visibility, lower bounce rates, and a notable brand recognition. WordStream reports a typical conversion rate of 2.35% on average. Top brands, however, often see a multiplier of 3 to 5 times higher rates thanks to their online presence combined with a high trust factor. And when it comes to direct revenue, over $108 billion have been generated through online sales over the holidays in 2017, a portion of the global $2.3 trillion market.

While preparing for a seasoned campaign or a viral piece, use the following checklist as a starting guide to handling traffic peaks.

1. Reevaluate Your Hosting Choice

Selecting a generic hosting account can be a major bottleneck as you keep scaling.

Traffic growth is always exponential, i.e. doubling your traffic doesn’t necessarily have an equal impact on your software and hardware setup.

A 10% traffic increase may bring your site down without the right preparation. A single vector or two gets overwhelmed, and you end up with a long queue of pending requests, timing out and losing you customers (let alone the impact on your brand). Amazon struggled on Prime Day for an hour which led to estimated loss of $72M to $90M for the brief period of shaky uptime.

The hosting market has exploded over the past decades, offering virtual private and dedicated servers, cloud solutions, and even managed hosting plans for given software stacks. While finding the best pick is a long journey on its own, investing in the right hosting vendor pays off tenfold over time.

2. Refine Your Visitors’ Journey

You want to ensure that every visit counts. Any hiccups in your marketing funnel or the UX of your page may affect a large portion of your customers.

Depending on the complexity of your flow, prepare a list of user stories and customer journeys.

  • Analyze your incoming sources.
  • Test each of them separately, with the planned campaign sources and redirects.
  • Review your pages on different devices, including Android and iOS phones and tables.
  • Don’t forget different browsers — Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer — and even in-app mobile browsers for sources like Facebook or Snapchat.
  • Double-check your ad units, affiliate links, landing pages, and other key promotional pieces.
  • Ensure that all tracking that you need is in place at all times.

Rushing your campaigns without testing can lead to data loss, reduced traffic despite the added costs for advertisement, and poor UX for your existing readers.

3. Prepare Highly Targeted Campaigns

While reviewing your user stories, customize your journey as much as you can.

  • If you rely on a single channel like Facebook or Taboola, implement a welcome mechanism that greets your visitors or loads a highly relevant feed for them.
  • For certain demographics, update the wording to match your ideal audience.
  • Design a specific landing page with your wordsmith tapping into their key problem that you solve.
  • Double check your exit intent and other pop-ups across the site.
  • Incorporate videos within your pages where appropriate. Videos increase the time spent on site, relate better to most users, and provide an added value for video fans.
  • Don’t forget your exit and checkout pages.
  • Place retargeting pixels (or abandoned cart logic for eCommerce.)

4. Rely on Proven Data-Driven Techniques

When in doubt, always Google for successful case studies and stats in your corresponding industry.

Experimenting is great, but unless you’re a marketing consultant in a growth hacking capacity, you’d like to maximize sales with fewer risks in place.

You can mix in both techniques with A/B testing. Prepare a couple versions for your page — one traditional and one that implements a unique approach that seems profitable. Measure carefully and act fast if one of your layouts is exceeding the expectations compared to the other.

Content Experiments (formerly Google Website Optimizer) is one of the free website optimization tools that work well in most cases. VWO and Optimizely are popular players in the space, along with CrazyEgg by the renowned marketing entrepreneur Neil Patel that lets you measure website activity with heatmaps and scrollmaps, too.

5. Load Testing

Before you pull the trigger on your campaign, coordinate a load testing campaign with your hosting vendor.

Some hosting firms already have load and stress testing partnership in place with vendors like BlazeMeter or NeoLoad. Self-hosted tools are available as well, but you need to schedule a testing phase upfront. Most vendors protect your site from unwanted bot network attacks or incorporate Web Application Firewalls dealing with known denial of service attacks betting on heavy traffic.

Load testing can help you discover possible leaks in your system and optimize prior to launching a sponsored campaign. Moreover, you can gauge the total traffic your host can handle with a number of concurrent users on the site. As needed, you can upgrade to a higher plan, invest in development fine tuning, or discuss a hybrid approach with a temporarily upgrade during the holiday season.

Ensuring that your platform is stable, can handle the extra traffic during the campaign, and all of your journeys are carefully tailored is more than sufficient for traditional media sites playing with promoted content.

What are some of the pitfalls you’re preemptively working around for this holiday season’s traffic peaks?

Mario Peshev

Mario Peshev

CEO at DevriX
Mario Peshev is the Founder, CEO and WordPress Architect of DevriX, a technical WordPress agency serving high-traffic publications with 100M+ monthly impressions. Mario's background is in software engineering, and he's been a prominent contributor to the WordPress platform - with platform patches, as an open source advocate, event organizer, and more.
Mario Peshev

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