Flyby users: How to engage and create brand enthusiasts

Contributor, February 16, 2022

Flyby users: How to engage and create brand enthusiasts

Key Takeaways:

  • Use differing strategies to engage flyby users and loyal visitors.
  • First impressions like site speed and UX can convert or turn off flyby users.
  • Monetize loyal users based on collected data and subscription services.


Flyby users and brand loyalists are different creatures altogether; they arrive at your site differently, have different expectations, and engage differently. While some might brush off flyby users as not worth their time, that would be a mistake. Flyby users can become loyalists, and loyalists can become brand enthusiasts with the right strategies.  

In this article, we’ll look at the differences between these two groups of users and the techniques you can employ to convert them to the next level of readership.

Strategies to convert flyby users

As the name suggests, flyby users are visitors who fly by your site. Most likely, they aren’t familiar with your site or, if they are, they have yet to find a reason to visit it without a prompt. They usually arrive from a social media post, app content, search, or another channel, scan an article, and bounce. By focusing on a few website elements and offering an optimized experience, you can convert them into loyal visitors who seek out your content.

Flyby users might read an article from start to finish, but it’s more likely they will scan the article and bounce near the page’s halfway mark unless your content really resonates with them. While you don’t know a lot about this user, you know they are interested in a specific topic and could be open to reading more about it in another article. You can demonstrate your knowledge and breadth of content on that topic by adding internal links or highlighting a related article with a mid-article campaign.

Make a good first impression (a.k.a. UX)

Although we like to think that people take their time and don’t jump to conclusions, data shows that’s not the case. Website visitors make a conscious impression about your site in just 2.6 seconds, and 94% of that impression is design-related.

Since it’s the user’s first or second time visiting your site, they must be greeted with a clean layout, great design, and a navigation menu that’s easy to find and use. A search bar can also encourage users to explore your site in a way that makes sense to them. The publishing industry has talked extensively about the need to offer a great user experience (UX), and nothing could be more important for a first-time visitor.

The need for speed

Speaking of good experiences, did you know that 53% of mobile users will leave a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load? Since mobile is increasingly becoming more dominant, slow loading pages will all but guarantee flyby users are never coming back. Luckily there are plenty of tools to check your site’s speed, including Google’s Lighthouse and GTmetrix.

How to convert loyal users into brand enthusiasts

On the opposite side of the equation are loyal users. Every publisher will define this group differently, but what all loyal users have in common is that they seek out your site organically, know how to navigate it, and know what content to expect. It’s that familiarity that you can leverage and monetize as you turn them into brand enthusiasts.

Create a data-backed content strategy

Most likely, you are already collecting first-party data (if not, you need to be!) and analyzing user behavior in a platform such as FoxMetrics, HubSpot, Amplitude, or Quantcast. Check your data to see which pieces of content attract the most readers and earn the highest time on page, an equally important metric. That will indicate the types of stories that interest your audience the most and should provide a clear path for your content strategy in the future. It’s essential to continue to create content your audience will value in your brand’s voice as that is likely an aspect that attracted your users in the first place.  

Paywall the right way 

There’s some debate as to whether paywalls are a publisher’s best friend or worst enemy. Readers will only pay for so many subscription services, so you need to choose your paywall type carefully if you implement one. Hard paywalls, like the one used by Financial Times, are the riskiest strategy, especially if you are trying to grow your audience. The New York Times is a great example of a publisher that uses a soft or metered paywall to effectively build and convert its audience while monetizing. 

Dynamic paywalls are trickier to implement but are often highly effective as they ask readers to subscribe at the moments when they are most likely to convert. That said, if you can produce compelling and valuable content that strikes a chord with your audience, it’s one of the best ways to monetize them and turn them into brand enthusiasts much the same way New York Magazine does.

Converting users is a marathon, not a sprint

Developing and growing your audience is an ongoing process that boils down to data analysis and strategy implementations, both of which should be revisited and updated routinely. The relationships you have with your readers, like all human relationships, need to be nurtured, not hurried.

Flyby users represent an opportunity for growth; loyal users represent an opportunity for monetization. Now, that’s not to say you can’t monetize flyby users, but you should look to bring them into the fold as much as possible so you can learn more about them and gain more first-party data. The more you know about your audience, the better you can serve them. And, if you can prove that your audience has specialized interests or are loyal, engaged readers, your site will be more attractive to advertisers, earning you more revenue which is a top priority.

Need help with your user acquisition strategy or monetization efforts?