This week, Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget revealed the secrets of success for Business Insider at FOLIO’s MediaNext conference and shared his complete presentation deck on the Business Insider website.
How did Business Insider grow from its small 2007 launch to attract approximately 23 million unique visitors each month in 2013? It turns out the secrets of success for Business Insider are actually quite simple: a different kind of storytelling, a different “publication/network,” different distribution, and a different business model.
After four years of being in operation, Business Insider still works with those four key factors in mind. In other words, anything created for Business Insider is created for the digital medium — not as an imitation of print or television.
Business Insider has always focused 100% on digital with the belief that digital is different from print and television in several very important ways, which are described below.
In his presentation, Henry explained that digital content offers a variety of storytelling tools such as text, photos, images, audio, and video. These types of content don’t have to be limited by time or space constraints. They can be very visual and highly collaborative and conversational in nature. As a result, Business Insider creates a variety of content that is both hybrid digital/print/television and solely digital. For example, articles, photos, audio, and video bridge the gap between digital and print and television while live blogs, GIFs, links, photo essays, lists, charts, and more can be considered digital only.
The next key to success for Business Insider is its distribution strategy, which Henry described as “extremely different.” That’s because every page is a front page and the stories on those pages can travel separately from the publication. Business Insider understands that stories have to be great or no one will share them (creating another distribution point), but they also need to be easily-accessible through a comprehensive distribution plan that makes them available on all platforms (i.e., desktop, tablet, and mobile) as well as through channel distribution efforts that increase email, search, social, direct, and referral traffic.
Business Insider has access to deep analytics that identify what is working and what needs to be changed at all times. During his presentation, Henry explained that his team has access to real-time readership data about the publication, stories, authors, sections, distribution sources, and platforms (including screen sizes). Business Insider doesn’t just collect this data. It’s actually analyzed and used to learn and deliver better content as well as to use resources more efficiently.
4. Cost Structure
Finally, Henry explained that his team understands the economics of digital are different from print and television. He said, “Digital cannot support print economics, but digital can support digital economics.” That’s the shift in thinking that other content publishers and media organizations need to understand in order to succeed in the digital future.
So if you want your site and content to become as successful as Business Insider, you need to start thinking like the Business Insider team and prioritize the four keys to success described above within your own content publishing strategy.