Judgment, Automated Email Boost Audience Growth

Both the exercise of editorial judgment and use of automated email distribution seem correlated with audience growth for content marketing sites using Hivefire curation tools, an analysis of more than one millionarticles curated by HiveFire’s business-to-business customers has found.

On average, the studied sites published about 17 percent of potential material delivered by curator-selected real simple syndication feeds, but curators that published a smaller percentage of potential stories saw higher traffic growth. The correlation seems to be that more-selective posting drove more readership.

The analysis also found that delivering curated content using automated online newsletters universally resulted in higher traffic, but that newsletters delivering less than half of the site content grew faster than newsletters that delivered more than 50 percent of the site content. The implication again is that greater selectivity is correlated with higher traffic.

Content sites updated daily generated 18 percent more click-through activity than content sites updated weekly.

A mix of original and curated content tends to drive higher traffic than “original-only” or “curated-only” approaches, the analysis also found.

On average, curated sites that have between 16 percent to 30 percent original content generate more page views than sites featuring only original content, or only curated content.

On sites where there is a mix of original content and third-party content, original content receives approximately 17 percent more click-through activity than third-party content.

Though it is possible to distinguish between content “creation” and “curation,” and to debate which is more effective, the HiveFire study suggests the wisdom of doing both.
Daily publishing seemed correlated with higher traffic, compared to weekly publishing, while short story previews seemed to drive higher readership than longer previews.

Articles with pictures also generate 47 percent more click-through  activity than articles without pictures, while medium-length snippets (story previews) generate 20 percent more click-through activity than small snippets.

Do email newsletters produce more content site traffic than social media sharing? The HiveFire study does suggests that email outperforms social shares, at least in terms of driving readership.

That finding is in line with research by Chadwick Martin Bailey that suggests email remains the single most important channel for sharing content. In a business-to-business context, such content sharing is a way of showing thought leadership.

Content curators in some industries or businesses might find there simply is more “news flow.” More news happening tend to mean an easier job of finding “something interesting to write about.”

About 54 percent of content click-through actions were driven by email messages, while 46 percent of click-through actions were driven by social sharing, the study suggests.

Daily content curation also produces more click-through volume, compared to weekly content curation, when that content is published in an email newsletter or on social media. The issue might be whether higher frequency has revenue implications. There is some evidence that sales conversions, for example, are related to content publishingfrequency.

But content creation takes time, so the frequency of publishing has content creation implications. Length and “time to create” are inversely related.

Orbit Media Studios, in a conservative scenario, suggests tweets can be posted daily, blog posts once a week, press releases monthly and case studies quarterly, for example. There will be quite a bit of variation “in real life,” though.