Mediapost has a good interview with Chuck Cordray,
GM of Hearst Magazines Digital Media. In it, he reveals paid search is a
very small part of the group’s traffic-driving strategy, at least for
the women’s sites-a very competitive market, by the way. "For the core
women’s sites, we buy less than 1 percent of our traffic. It’s really search
and syndication that drives 77 percent of our traffic," he said.

Knowing where your traffic is coming from and the tactics your
visitors are using to get to your site is an important distinction. In
Hearst’s case, it has been a key driver behind optimizing the sites for
search as much as possible.

Of course, Hearst has also built its traffic via acquisition, which
Cordray points out in the interview, buying Kaboodle, RealAge and
Answerology. But these acquisitions were targeting a specific, younger
female demographic as well.

But probably most impressive is the group’s online subscription
selling prowess. Cordray reveals that the group went from 600,000 to
2.2 million by 2008, simultaneously boosting per-order
profitability by 60 percent.

Hearst’s Chris Wilkes has often articulated the group’s ability to
draw visitors deeper into the brands-either as subscribers or more
committed visitors via email address submission. Audience Development has a quick-hit
story on how they use online sweeps to pull users in. Getting Real Demos From Your Anonymous Searchers.