What the election reminded us about targeting web audience

Nov 16, 2016

This election has resulted in record-breaking audience both for NPR and member stations. For the past few months, our Analytics Service has been taking a look at who is visiting member station websites, and what we can learn to increase both depth and frequency of visits. 

For a complete picture of your election demographic, including recommendations for retaining this audience, visit NPRStations.org to view our monthly analytics webinar

Overall, the election audience has reminded us about both tools and tactics that we should be employing to target our audience regularly.

1. Search and social make a big impact in overall traffic. Small changes can pay big dividends:

Social was a key traffic driver for all four of the debates, but search also played an important role

On the night of the final presidential debate, Michigan Radio used search to show up as the third result for live fact check. Doing well in search optimization means planning ahead and doing well early. Most searches will happen on the day of or the day after, with a mere 60 keywords making up 80% of all clicks for the September 26 debate. 

2. Targeting a younger demographic can mean employing varying editorial tactics:

This election audience by session count is majority 35 and older

In terms of total sessions, the election audience didn't look much younger: 70% of total sessions were 35+. An older audience could be repeating more frequently than your younger audience. How can this affect content development for your station? Younger voters, or voters voting for the first time might respond well to explainers, both news explainers and place explainers. We also recommend focusing on local content and packaging relative coverage.

3. Make the most of your headlines 

Google trends can help guide your headline choices

Both headlines and title tags can be powerful tools to attract the right audience. Google trends, pictured right, can help guide your headline choices based on trending questions and queries related to your story's focus. Think about your headlines as answers to questions: do they contain specific words a person would search for? Headlines that work on the web are different than newspaper style headlines.  

4. Measure your results

You have tools at your disposal to measure both specific story engagement, demographic data, and your overall audience. 

Want more? Register for our PubMetrics webinar, December 7 2016, where we will discuss the important changes across the network over the last six months.