The Emerald City Experiment
This summer, I was asked to make a fictional pitch to the Big Two comics publishers. Instead of asking to be involved in their print projects, I encouraged them to put a greater effort into their Web presence.
Brad Guigar, who publishes the corporate supervillain webcomic Evil Inc., recommends that daily webcomics be the focal point of Marvel and DC’s websites. After all, webcartoonists have a proven track record of updating their sites with regular content and attracting a large, consistent audience. And the webcomics could be paired with digital downloads, giving readers the opportunity to buy comics as they stop in for their daily dose of free fun.
So I listened with keen interest when Jim Demonakos approached me a few weeks later and asked me if I’d be interested in working on a comic that would be used on the Web site for his comic convention, Emerald City Comicon.
They had tapped Chris Giarrusso (G-Man, Mini Marvels) to do the art, and they were wondering if I would handle the writing.
It was a chance to see if my idea would work in a Real Life application.
The comic, Tales from the Con, updates every Thursday, and it’s used as an anchor on the site’s index page.
A promo rotates in the boss position on the ECCC main page, along with notices of special guests, ticket information, etc.
But is it working?
I asked Jim last week how it was going. He’s reporting a healthy uptick in traffic since the comic launched, But since the launch of the comic coincided with a complete site overhaul, it’s hard to claim all of the credit for that.
However, one indication that this experiment has merit was the Landing Pages statistic (right).
Out of the top 11 landing pages, fully five are Tales from the Con pages.
And the total amount of traffic the comic generates is nearly the same as the amount of traffic that the index page generates.
So the comic is almost matching the traffic from search engines, direct referrals and direct traffic!
In fact, when you take the Tales from the Con section of the site, it not only nearly matches the index page, but it is almost doubles the next-highest section — Special Guests.
And, along with the comic, that traffic is also being exposed to messages from Emerald City about tickets, show times, guests and other events that will happen when the show opens its doors next Spring.
Comics’ Power of Promotion
Emerald City Comicon is March 30-April 1. This comic is a year-round promotion to drive traffic to a site to support a once-a-year event. There’s no ad revenue on the site. And any profits from a book collection are a long way in the offing.
That tells you two things.
First, Jim Demonakos believes in the promotional power of comics. He is using this comic — and the jackpot effect dicsussed in the early days of this site — to generate repeat traffic to his Web site.
It’s the repeat traffic he’s after. That’s because the return visitor will be the one that’s hit with messages that will be reinforced — date, guests, events — as well as new messages and information. If that visitor is even considering attending the convention, s/he is going to have plenty of reasons to decide in the affirmative.
Secondly, a project like this underscores the true advantage of a webcartoonist — the ability to drive traffic. It’s not enough to create a weekly feature for the client to post on his Web site. That’s only half the battle. An unwritten component in the contract is that Chris and I will promote the strip to our respective audiences. And we do. On Twitter, on our sites, on Facebook and GooglePlus. Part of what you offer a client as a webcartoonist is access to part of the following you’ve built on the Web.
That sounds silly. And you may think that you don’t have much to offer in that regard. But think of it in terms of your client. He needs traffic – but he doesn’t necessarily have the content that drives it. Your comic can help by providing that kind of content.
But you can put this project over the top by offering access to your social-networking abillities. And if you’ve been doing a good job of steadliy building that resources, you’re going to find that it has an excellent pay-off in a situation like this.
Good gosh… a webcartoonist offering exposure to a client! What’s next?!
It’s part of the reason this site has focused so much on social media and its connection to sites like the ones we run this past year. It’s powerful stuff. If you think it takes too much effort to tweet, you’re cheating yourself out of an amazing benefit — not only to you but to prospective clients.
Here’s an indication of that power. Mind you, Jim tweets as Emerald City Comicon, and he maintains a Facebook Fan Page for the convention. But every update is accompanied by a social media blast (Twitter, Facebook, GooglePlus, individual blogs) from both Chris and myself, too.
The referral stats are to the upper right. The top three referring sites are (1) The Evil Inc blog, (2) Facebook and (3) Twitter — all of which clock in as variants further down the list (8, 6 and 16, respectively). That’s 5 positions in the top 10.
That’s a statistic that’s going to drive this project for a long time to come.