Site Goals: Apply a data-driven approach to create high-value content (mostly slideshows) and work with print magazine editors to ensure that articles are on-brand. Also: Create flexible native/sponsored content packages for advertisers.
How We Got There: Analyzed Omniture data, identified SEO-strong core competencies, hired freelancers and interns to ease production challenges, curated RFP proposals for all brands — and created "shelter" and "food/kitchen" RFP packages with opportunities for participation from all shelter titles.
At Hearst, I was the digital director of a whole category of sites: the so-called shelter titles. This included Good Housekeeping, Country Living, and House Beautiful. Each of these sites had between two and four full-time editors, plus freelance writers and producers, and “shared resources” for all design, product development, syndication, and business development.
Redesigned Site or Home Page
A breadwinner like Good Housekeeping was granted the budget/resources for a full redesign. In addition to updating the look and feel to be more modern (to court younger readers), we emphasized the GH Research Institute, which is a differentiator in the women's magazine market (no one else has anything like it except, perhaps, Consumer Reports). We also made it easier to find and use our site-wide search, access our social media channels, and find more relevant stories (using content recommendation widgets at the end of each story, in the right rail and in links throughout the story.)
Created Sponsorable Feature Packages for All Shelter Brands
Many of the shelter sites had similar editorial calendars, based on seasons and holidays. So we created "hubs" (AKA topic pages) that rounded up the best and most popular features within a given category like "Spring Cleaning," "Thanksgiving Recipes," and "Holiday Decorating." In addition, we created evergreen hubs for subjects like "Pet Advice," "Hair Dos and Don'ts," and "Year-Round Wedding Planning."
Developed an Integrated Package ("The Blue Issue") that Our EIC Loved
At House Beautiful, editor-in-chief Stephen Drucker always wanted to publish an issue dedicated to a single color. With help from the sales and marketing team, our digital team made it happen. First we created features on blue fabrics, kitchens, bathrooms, and an amazing look back at "70 Years of Blue" in the pages of the magazine. But it didn't stop there. We wanted to celebrate all things blue in other ways, too. So we created blue giveaways, blue sweepstakes, and galleries of blue stuff. We also updated our Facebook and Twitter pages with news about all kinds of blue initiatives. Most unusual: We placed blue chairs (all kinds of shapes and styles) on the streets of New York in iconic settings, photographed them, observed what happened, and waited to see who would take one home—and if they would post their finds on Facebook and Twitter.
Redesigned Home Page and Site Nav with Small Budgets
Sites like Housebeautiful.com and Countryliving.com needed complete overhauls, but the business at the time did not justify the investment. So we focused on and re-imagined the home pages and headers/footers. This gave us a chance to spotlight high-performing (and high-value) slideshows, thereby guaranteeing they would continue to be the gifts that keep on giving. House Beautiful's traffic, post makeover, saw the best lift: more than 300% growth in pageviews year over year. All three sites more than doubled traffic.