Project Background:

The current business model has three revenue streams:  website advertising, sponsorships for downloading informational PDFs, and selling leads from converted users. The website accrues roughly $10 million per year for their long-form content which caters to a specialized user. This content is primarily created by authors who submit content.

Obstacles and Thoughts:

Over the past two years, the site has decreased in downloads, ad clicks and leads significantly. Increased competition with innovative ways of viewing the same type of content along with authors is emerging. Upon comparative analysis of the current competitors, the site may want to experiment and simplify their approach to funnel users into a more customized experience to help conversions as well as engagement. The authors are also asking to expand the content types such as video and audio to assist in their own influencer status.

Project Objectives:

Design a cross platform Discovery Engine to allow the user to easily search, find recommendations, as well as browse content easily which adds to the long-form website. This adds to the business model by providing more ad opportunities, downloads, and joining to view the content as it is easier to find for the user’s specific needs.

This will allow the business to keep the same business model while adding to the current revenue stream and experimenting with different content types, such as videos, specialized webinars, podcasts and whitepapers to find traction and patterns of use for further growth or deprecation.

Business Goals:

  • Experiment with adding to the revenue base for new advertising opportunities.
  • Experiment with new content types to understand where to allocate the business resources.
  • Allow for the user to find content hidden on the site opening more advertising opportunities.
  • Increase conversions for joining and returning to the site.

Methods of Research:

  • Analytics via Mixpanel, Google Analytics, Inspectlet, User Testing and Surveys.
  • Competitive Analysis via review of sites as well as specialized informational software, such as clearbit and Bombora.

Research Insights:

The current business model supports the United States demographic leads for resale. In order to attract this user, we need to provide content the USA market will join to consume. The downloads are not being utilized by the American market.

Many of the authors are opting to use Medium as well as the current business site to enhance their SEO, which risks an eventual phasing out of the business model of utilizing author’s to provide content as they may eventually opt for Medium or Dev.to.

Solution Requirements:

Create a Discovery Engine which is multi-purpose as a search engine, recommendation engine as well as a portal for the site to allow for the user to have as much content in as many content types they may like to view, bookmark, share and even add to, if they wish.

The beginning of the solutions must allocate for the current ad model and how to expand upon this with the Discovery Engine. The image below is a quick sketch overview of the allocation of different types of ads for each type of content that can be sold for each page along with the gated content to help with selling the leads.

This is an additional module to the site which will become the search engine and a way to browse very similarly to how Amazon operates. The site will require new pages for this experiment to allocate for a series of videos/podcasts and a combination if the author releases both types for consumption. Below is a quick sketch of the templating required at a high-level to select endpoints of development and optimize the design and business discussion.

Iterative Strategy:

Provide the designs in layouts ranging from the look and feel of Product Hunt to Netflix. We will begin with an Amazon type of layout to ensure familiarity. Track with Mixpanel, Google Analytics, and Inspectlet along with User Testing to view patterns of behavior. The development tools are React, Apollo, and GraphQL to ensure a faster development testing environment.