Look Ahead: SmartClickConnect Keeps Readers on Your Site Longer

SmartClickConnect featured on the Florida Weekly website.
SmartClickConnect featured on the Florida Weekly website.

Looking for a better way to connect with your readers online and have them stick around longer? Check out SmartClickConnect. Created by Our Hometown, Inc., the product hopes to tap into a reader’s natural curiosity to better engage with them. SmartClickConnect can be used on both Web and mobile news sites, and it automatically tags names, major topics, events and places in a news article.

When a reader clicks on a highlighted word, rather than linking out to an outside page or article, a sidebar pops up with a list of related stories including the tagged topic for readers to explore. The articles can range from old archived content, recently published pieces from just a few days ago, photo galleries—anything within the tagged word.

“We compare it to Wikipedia,” said Matthew Larson, Our Hometown, Inc. vice president of sales and marketing. “Engagement on Wikipedia is through the roof. It’s like going down a rabbit hole.”

The simple technology can improve the user experience by providing additional information and context, increase digital subscriptions, produce more clicks for advertisers and showcase the unique content local newspapers produce, said Larson. Additionally, the pop out window’s built in search bar allows readers to easily search for specific names, topics or events on the news site.

“It adds a level of engagement without any effort,” he said.

The SmartClickConnect database hosts more than 4 million article archives, 2 million unique proper names and 52 million proper name references, and they’re adding 2,000 new articles every day.

Larson said they’ve seen an average of 30 percent click through rates in the pop out window and 50 percent of readers click on a highlighted word in the article.

Hoping to get 100 percent of people who come to a page to click on a link, Larson said they’re continuing to improve and build upon the technology, such as tools for publishers to create their own databases for untagged links.

According to Larson, SmartClickConnect currently has 10 newspaper partners and Our Hometown, Inc. will soon be rolling out the product on each partner’s websites.

To keep readers’ attention, Larson said many publishers are using clickbait material, but with SmartClickConnect, there’s no baiting involved. The technology promotes the rich content newspapers provide to their communities every day.

“We’re just trying to fight the tide that’s turning with the Internet,” he said.

For more information, visit our-hometown.com.


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