Case Study: Happy Music Blog Digital Strategy and Design
As Happy’s go-to digital agency, we’ve been holding their hand as they grew from a local music festival turned online music blog now boasting over 2 million annual page views. It’s been quite a few years, but we still vividly remember the day when the Happy team first approached us for branding and website design before their well-loved festival was launched.
Happy started as a music festival in 2010, organising gigs at venues that didn’t usually host live acts as a way to promote local emerging music. Now purely focused on the blog, Happy actively support many passionate emerging Australian musicians while simultaneously nurturing almost 20,000 music lovers across Australia.
It’s been an inspiring journey for both us and Happy to work together turning a big idea into a reality. It was an exciting challenge to re-model and re-develop a well-established offline event to an online media brand. Happy has come a long way and we’ve built a strong digital brand that will continue to grow and evolve. With Happy launching their new website (Happy 2.0) this week, we’re excited to celebrate another milestone, and to recognise all of the hard work and dedication that has gotten us all to this point.
An Online Media Brand with Seamless User-centred Experience
Although Happy has developed from offline to online, their mission has always stayed true to their original intent — to support new and amazing talent, and to share these talents with loyal music lovers. With this in mind, at different stages of Happy’s life we’ve developed strategies that not only position the brand for the environment at the time, but also with a view to sustain growth in the future.
Happy is a leader and tastemaker in the Australian music scene, a fact that is reflected in our work for them. Everything we do for Happy, be that strategy, design or a tweet strives to be better, meaning we are constantly setting new benchmarks for the Happy team internally, their audience and competitors.
The core experience of the brand is the blog/website, which has been evolving through the years. Looking back the day when Happy first started, we provided them with a site that had essential functionality, allowing Happy to hit the ground running. Over the years as the site has grown, web standards and user behaviours have changed and we’ve been constantly improving the website and user experience through user feedback and testing.
The new website, Happy 2.0 reveals a new chapter in Happy’s life. Beautifully and considerately designed, Happy 2.0 is armed with seamless responsive design, user-generated content functionality and integrated advertising solutions.
As a heavily article-based website, Happy 2.0 has an emphasis on efficient information architecture, legibility and readability to achieve the best experience for users. The new modular visual system lands users on a column-based layout that is designed for quick browsing on different devices, but also gives focus to the individual article. In terms of typography, much larger headings, serif font for body text (with very carefully considered font size and leading of course!) are all designed based on user feedback over the years to improve the reading experience.
But Happy 2.0 is not about shouting at the users ‘Read me! Read me!’, we want to create a sense of playfulness and belonging to emotionally connect with the Happy audience. Commissioned photography or illustrations take up almost 50% of each landing page, while in each individual article images and videos are inserted throughout the copy to create visual impact and enhance user engagement.
Apart from meeting Happy’s essential needs, we always like to experiment with functionality that could benefit Happy’s musicians and readers. In Happy 2.0 we continue to implement the SoundCloud player which streams a playlist of exclusive tracks, but in a much more considered manner. It is now seamlessly integrated into both the brand and the website. In response to the many press releases Happy has received over the years, we have developed the ‘Submit Music’ feature — an inviting, proactive call-to-action functionality for musicians to conveniently submit their works to Happy for review and editorial. Our beloved WordPress Happy Gig Calendar plugin, created in-house will also be implemented in Happy 2.0.
For Happy 2.0 we’ve also introduced integrated advertising solutions that enable advertisers to communicate with Happy’s audience throughout their digital journey without being intrusive.
Happy’s digital experience extends to social media and online platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and SoundCloud. As Happy’s brand guard, we ensure that the brand is implemented consistently across all digital platforms.
A Unique Digital Platform Tailored for the Australian Millennial Culture
Working on digital strategy for Happy is exciting for us as they cater to a young, passionate and creative Australian audience. In other words, us! With the objective to grow the audience base and encourage active engagement, we’ve come up with comprehensive content strategy for Happy targeting Australian millennials. In short, our content strategy for Happy covers core content types including reviews, interviews, new music, videos and exclusives, published at a volume of 25 posts a week, as well as content optimisation and content promotion through different channels and sources.
While Happy’s editors and writers are working according to our plan, at IYBI we produce creative types of content, such as illustrations, infographics, photography and hack ideas to create higher engagement within the Happy community.
A Host to Highly Engaging and Loyal Audience
Our end-goal for Happy is to create high audience engagement and nurture follower loyalty over the years. While the blog boasts 37,318 monthly unique visitors and a significant 2.2 million viewers in 2014, it is more exciting for us to learn about the high user engagement statistics, showing audience interactions with the quality contents Happy produces:
• 108,222 monthly page views
• almost 2.9 page views per visitor
• almost 4 minutes spent on site per user
• a bounce rate of 54%, almost one quarter lower compared to Happy’s competitors, such as Pile Rates (81%) and Tone Deaf (76%).
A major contributing factor to high traffic is Happy’s newsletters, which are sent out twice per week to 14,094 subscribers, a number which is continually expanding. Other factors are Facebook and Twitter updates which make up 60% of the total website traffic, as well as backlinks and social shares from artists and Happy’s audience.
Social media is a crucial channel for Happy to reach out to their audience. Some significant figures for Happy include 18,104 Facebook fans, almost 10,000 Twitter followers and 132,556 total plays on SoundCloud, but we are constantly seeking new ways to engage the tech-savvy, fast-changing millennials and explore new social media platforms that may be leveraged to Happy’s advantage.
An Integrated Advertising Solution for Millennial-focused Brands
We understand that brands are not only looking for ad spaces for their products, but platforms that align with their brand values and connect with their target audience. Partnering with Happy, we propose a unique integrated advertising solution for millennial-focused brands:
• Essentially, ad spaces across all Happy’s channels including website, newsletter, social media, music channels and upcoming printed magazines
• Potentially, full brand integration and partnership with Happy
• Campaign strategy and design tailored for both advertisers and Happy audience
What Are We Doing Next for Happy?
Happy has successfully evolved from an offline event to a strong digital presence. Today we celebrate the launch of Happy 2.0, but also set another three-year plan for us as Happy’s digital agency (like Happy, If You Build It never stops evolving either!). We are passionate and excited about Happy’s future, and will keep pushing the boundaries to grow the brand.
This case study was originally published on If You Build It website.