The life-cycle of online articles repeats a known pattern – several days after publication the organic traffic of the article decreases dramatically, and is left abandoned and unread. According to an experiment by Boost the News and brief.pl, content retargeting can ensure articles are being constantly read, and increase traffic by up to 250%. 

This article was published in Polish on brief.pl. We present it here in English for the international audience. 

Our goal at Boost the News is to help publishers to increase traffic on their page by having articles promoted through retargeted online ads – this is the idea behind the concept of “content retargeting”. Simply speaking, the concept works as following: your website has many readers, but not all of them manage to reach all the content great content you provide. Many articles are often missed and left unread. Content retargeting remind readers of content they have missed, even after they left your website (through online ads on other websites), thus significantly increasing traffic and ensuring that no content is left unread.  

To fulfill our goal of helping publishers to increase traffic, an assessment of the behavior of article traffic (organic and promoted) was needed. For this purpose, we studied the article “Is the Polish business ready for content marketing?”, published on the Polish “Brief” portal (read the English version on our blog). The results are presented to you in this article.

The story of an article

The life-cycle of an online article is quite predictable. It consists of four main stages:

Stage I (day of publication): traffic peak

The article is just published, displayed on the homepage and high in the social media profiles of the publisher. Visibility is optimal, and traffic is high.

Zd I_pd

Stage II: drastic drop

The article’s buzz lasts shortly. After a few days it is removed from the home page and its position on the social media feeds drops. Traffic declines dramatically (in this case, in 2600% within three days!).

Zd II_pd

Stage III: reanimation

The publisher attempts to reanimate traffic by reposting the article on social media or repositioning it on the homepage. A slight spike in traffic is visible at this stage.

Zd III_pd

Stage IV: silent death (average daily views – 8)

When the effect of the reanimation extinguishes, traffic drops again, and this time it remains on a low note for good, eventually subject to minimal short-term spikes thanks to social media re-animation.

Zd IV_pd

When is the best moment to promote content?

It is clear from the examples above that an article’s traffic cannot remain high unless it is promoted. Organic reach drops rather quickly, and can hardly be lifted back for long periods of time. The question remains – when is the right time to promote an article through retargeting? We can answer this question after analyzing the article’s life-cycle:

During stage I the article is doing well, enjoys massive organic traffic thanks to its initial buzz, location on the homepage and social media feeds. Paid promotion of the article is not optimal at this stage; a the best is to ride on the article’s organic success for a couple of days.

Stage II is short and is quickly followed by a reanimation on social media. Paid promotion of the article in stage III, right after the drastic drop in traffic, brings similar results as the organic animation:

Zd V_pd

At this stage, we already doubled the traffic to the article. But results are still not optimal.

To bring about even better results of the promotion, we move forward to stage IV. This is how the organic traffic to the article looks in comparison with the retargeted traffic:

Zd VI_pd

During stage IV, the daily average of retargeted views per day was almost three times higher than the average of organic views. This means that traffic to the article during the stage of “silent death” was 250% higher than it would have been without any paid promotion.

Don’t let your content die silently

Every online publisher will be able to identify the article life-cycle described above. Even the most popular websites follow the pattern of initial spike, fall, reanimation, and silent death.

After content goes off from the home page, and down the feeds of social networks, its visibility is almost insignificant. Your content is great, and thousands of readers may still be interested in reading it, but are not even aware of its existence.