Case Study Results:
Foodbeast is a leading food news and video website, home to food lovers everywhere and known for its fun, irreverent tone. Like most content publishers, Foodbeast’s business model depends on web impressions-based advertising. To grow its business, it must drive traffic from a variety of sources to build ample inventory to satisfy the needs of its advertisers. Sources include organic inbound, newsletters, and a range of referrals from external sites. As a creator of viral content, Foodbeast naturally views social media as a critical source of Web traffic. For the site to continue to thrive, its editors must focus on content optimization and audience insights, which helps drive editorial direction.
Table of Contents
Objective: Drive More Facebook Referral Traffic
Facebook is an important community to Foodbeast. With nearly 3 million active and engaged fans, Foodbeast editors have come to rely on the social media network to activate interest and bring readers to the site. Facebook’s demographics nicely dovetail with the audience at Foodbeast, whose content style and format also align with the Facebook environment.
The editors quickly learned that headline choice is a major determinant of whether someone clicks on the story and goes to the site; it also drives fan-page activity. Writers were spending a lot of time testing out different headlines–experimenting with different styles and keywords to see which ones resonated best with the audience. (As a data-driven company, the editors watch the metrics closely to determine what works best.)
After much trial and error and mixed results, Foodbeast came to the conclusion that it needed a more scientific approach for A/B testing, while being mindful not to generate too much extra work for its time-strapped team.
Foodbeast found the ideal partner in ShareThis, a forward-looking and innovative Web platform for sharing content. Foodbeast had been using an underperforming website-sharing toolset with the perception that all sharing tools were identical–just plug them in and they all work the same way. Meeting with ShareThis led the Foodbeast team to understand how the company’s sharing tools could help the site grow traffic and move business forward.
In addition to its on-page sharing tool, ShareThis introduced Foodbeast to Social A/B a component in their new Social Optimization Platform. This headline-testing tool enables companies to perform automated facebook page testing on Facebook to see which headlines will generate the most clicks, traffic, and engagement. The idea of a content optimization solution was very attractive to Foodbeast and thus the Foodbeast-ShareThis partnership was formed.
The Tool: Social A/B In Action
For Foodbeast editors, the beauty of the Social A/B tool lies in its simplicity and ease of use. Here’s how it works:
- The editors create multiple headlines for each article in the Social A/B dashboard.
- Social A/B tests the headlines and identifies the best-performing version on Facebook.
- The editors see the winning headlines in the dashboard and can opt for articles to be automatically updated on the website and on Facebook with the best-performing headline.
Foodbeast started using Social A/B in January 2016 by dipping a toe in the water with 67 articles, then 168 in February, and 204 in March.
The editors have shared the results of an experiment for which they tested multiple headlines on stories posted to Facebook and evaluated the results based on several metrics: referrals to the site measured in unique page views, average time on the page, bounce rate, share count, total click-backs, and the over lift provided by the test.
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For articles whose headlines went through Social A/B, editors saw a 110% increase in pageviews versus stories not run through the testing tool. In addition, they saw significant improvement in site engagement. Time spent on a page increased by 32%, an increase of a full minute per page. The bounce rate also showed a 26% improvement; more engaging headlines not only generated more clicks to the site but a deeper read of the story and more site stickiness.
Moving Forward: Driving Revenue Growth
These results will have a direct impact on Foodbeast’s bottom line as it continues to enjoy traffic and engagement improvements from Social A/B. The incremental traffic increases have helped Foodbeast scale up its inventory for larger advertising opportunities. Foodbeast also uses the Social A/B tool for its branded content advertisers, who want to know that their every dollar is optimized and ROI is maximized. In addition, the ability to conduct Facebook page testing of headlines is a competitive advantage, as well as a great selling tool for the sales team.
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