USA TODAY Sports Boosted their Olympics Coverage by 57% with Headline Testing

The USA TODAY Sports team used Visual Revenue’s headline testing capabilities extensively throughout the course of the London Olympics 2012. Instant Headline Testing truly empowers online editorial teams. It gives them an opportunity, in real-time, to see which different aspects of a story resonate best with their audience or whether the audience is familiar with an athlete’s name or moniker e.g. Yohan Blake vs. ‘The Beast’.

“Our digital team is always looking for ways to write creative, engaging and appealing headlines that will make our audience want to click,” says Tim Gardner, Assistant Managing Editor at USA TODAY Sports Media Group. “Headline testing helps us quickly decide which headline to choose, ensuring we maximize the appeal of every story. With limitations on the numbers of entry points we have, our digital team works to ensure our headlines not only catch the eyes of consumers, but encourage readers to click and explore the full coverage USA TODAY Sports is known for.”

Their team have kindly allowed us to showcase a handful of tests they ran, identifying the winners in each test and the resulting increase in CTR.

Some of the differences are very nuanced like the Tip sheet and Obama story. Others, like the Brennan story, are less so, but that tweak resulted in an astonishing 194% increase in CTR. During the Olympics the USA TODAY Sports team ran approximately 150 individual headline tests and the average resulting lift in CTR on those that won was a phenomenal 57%.

“Simply put, we want to create the most dynamic audience experience in sports,” says Matthew Graham, VP Audience and Programming at USA TODAY Sports Media Group. “The competition to attract sports fans is limitless. Therefore, we need to make sure we're presenting our content in the most appealing way possible. Testing different headlines not only allows us to engage our audience in real time, but provides insight into how we can expand our user base exponentially over time.”

Having a headline testing tool that helps you instantaneously understand how one headline directly performs against another is a must have in any editors arsenal!