Reader relationships are key post-Trump bump to keep digital traffic alive

By Jesse Moeinifar


Toronto, Ontario, Canada


People disagree on practically everything when it comes to Donald Trump. But if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that his constant presence in the news sparked an explosion of traffic to media sites and apps.

However, media professionals knew no matter how nice this “Trump bump” was, it would most likely only be temporary. There was a very real danger that once Trump no longer dominated the news, all the digital visitors and subscribers eager to learn about his every word and action would lose interest.

And now that Trump is no longer in office — or on Twitter — media organisations have been rushing to understand how they can better entertain and retain news consumers.

Opinions vary greatly on former U.S. President Donald Trump. But everyone can agree he was good for news engagement.
Opinions vary greatly on former U.S. President Donald Trump. But everyone can agree he was good for news engagement.

“The U.S. government may not be the source of all the angst and anxiety that it once was,” according to a MediaPost article, “(but news media) outlets still have three things going for them: audience, opinion, and opportunity.”

So, if your news media company is currently experiencing a traffic drop, hope is far from lost. We’ve broken down how you can navigate this challenge and successfully persuade digital visitors and subscribers to keep your brand front of mind, whether Trump is in the headlines or not.

Understanding traffic losses

Back in 2017, Trump suggested he had a direct effect on the success of media.

He stated that “(newspapers), television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there … because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes.”

Fast forward to the present, and media organisations are feeling the loss of such a controversial figure. With Trump out of the picture, some media companies have seen their Web traffic drop more than 20% now that U.S. politics are relatively stable again.

It’s clear media organisations can’t depend on their news content alone for consistent, reliable growth.

Luckily for you, there are, in fact, sustainable ways to increase audience attention levels even without chaotic events and figures, like Trump, to drive news consumption.

Building reader relationships that last

While it’s essential to keep people informed on critical events through content, news organisations can also deepen their relationships with readers through positive, on-site experiences. This is particularly important now that news organisations can no longer depend on Trump-related news content to consistently captivate visitors.

“The reader relationship strategy is about creating engagement, customer satisfaction, and lifetime value with users through targeted content, products, advertising, and services for individual customers,” said Martha Williams, CEO of the World Newsmedia Network. “It’s about collecting user data with permission through registration and paywalls, and leveraging (that) data to drive user satisfaction.”

Media organisations have a significant opportunity to tap into first-party audience data, learn about what users are interested in, and then personalise experiences around content. That includes delivering custom content feeds, e-mails, and subscription messages.

The bottom line is you can strengthen your news brand’s appeal by placing readers at the centre of your business. Consider hosting live Q&As with journalists and pundits, exclusive clubs, virtual events, and listening to reader feedback to show visitors they matter.

Nurturing your relationships with Web site visitors outside your news content will help you convert casual readers into loyal community members. As a result, you’ll earn brand followers who care about your brand, regardless of how eventful or uneventful the news might be.

Engaging visitors beyond your news products

If you truly want to encourage your audience members to return to your Web site or app regularly, you’ll need to engage people on a daily basis.

“(News companies) charge people to access the information, for the access to knowledge,” said Greg Piechota, INMAs researcher-in-residence. “But, in fact, people actually engage with the media for many other reasons.”

Just think of how popular The New York Times’ crossword puzzles are. In 2020, more people searched for the term “crosswords” than “Trump” or “coronavirus” on the organisation’s Web site.

You can use audience engagement tools on your site to wrap your news product in an immersive, addictive layer. Social tools in particular, like commenting and live chat widgets, can help community members form meaningful connections to each other around your Web site or app.

Any drop in traffic, regardless of the cause, is discouraging and can trigger a decrease in your revenue. So, whether Trump is gone from your content or people are simply tired of reading about COVID-19, keep your digital visitors active and interested on your site by strengthening reader relationships and delivering engaging user experiences.

About Jesse Moeinifar

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