Learn the best ways to ask readers to share your content.
Digital publishers need a steady stream of new readers to survive. Mastering reader acquisition is key to the growth of any digital publication. We’ve covered how to use social media marketing and email newsletters to grow your audience, but the biggest referral source is already right in front of you.
When it comes to return on investment (ROI), the most efficient strategy for acquiring new readers is asking existing readers for their referrals. In the world of digital publishing, referrals happen most frequently in the form of shared content on social media.
Readers who share your articles, videos, photographs, and other content on social media are introducing their own friends, family, and followers to your publication. Depending on the size of a person’s social media following, a single “share” could result in thousands of new readers and subscribers.
Although search marketing, and search engine optimization, are still powerful sources of referral traffic, they don’t bring in the same type of readers as word of mouth referrals from existing subscribers. For example, content that’s been keyword optimized is easy to find in search results. But many of the people who arrive at news sites via search engines are interested in a specific topic or a news event, and they are unlikely to stick around after they’ve gotten the information they came for.
When existing subscribers invite their own friends to visit your website, they’re offering an endorsement of your publication. That endorsement is worth a lot when it comes to acquiring and retaining the types of readers who are most likely to stick around and become paying subscribers.
Identifying Referral Opportunities
We’ve identified why referrals and social shares are so beneficial to digital news outlets, but you’re probably still wondering how to get people to share your content with their friends and family.
The answer is simple: Just ask.
Including a simple call to action (CTA) at the bottom of articles and email newsletters asking readers to share an article on Facebook or forward an email to their friends can lead to an immediate boost in referral traffic.
In addition to including CTAs at the bottom of all email newsletters and article pages, you can incentivize existing subscribers to share your content by offering discounts on subscription renewals. Some publishers are also finding success with special promotions and contests designed to reward subscribers who share articles and refer their friends.
Publishers who run their websites on the WordPress platform can use plugins to add social share buttons to their websites. If you’re going to ask readers to share your content, do it with a button that says “Share This With Your Friends” or include social media links along the right-hand side of all your articles.
While comments sections have fallen out of favor among some digital publishers, there was a time when this was a valuable source of referral traffic. Readers are more likely to share your content when their own comments are included at the end, or when they have been invited to contribute in some way.
If you’re willing to invest the time, website analytics can offer the types of insights that could improve your social sharing strategy. What types of articles are people most likely to share? Is there any correlation between the time of day when an article is published and the amount of social media traction it receives? Facebook offers ways for publishers to track referral patterns, and Google Analytics can be useful for monitoring the success of acquisition initiatives. Do you see more traffic when you ask readers to share your content on a certain day of the week, or when your CTAs are placed at the bottom of your newsletters instead of the top? These are all questions that could be easily answered using some basic analytics tools.
If you’re looking for actionable strategies to increase referral traffic immediately, try out these tips:
- Include social sharing buttons on all article pages.
- Ask subscribers to share your articles on social media.
- Add CTAs to all email newsletters.
- Bring back the comments section and highlight top commenters.
- Run a contest with incentives for readers who refer new subscribers.
For even more ideas about how to quickly grow your online audience, contact Web Publisher PRO.