Using the Engaged Time metric to grow audiences, unlock loyal readership
Publishers want to improve how they engage audiences so they can reap the rewards (i.e., more subscriptions, ad revenue) that can result from more loyal readers of their content.
In the past, the conventional wisdom has been to use traditional analytics such as pageviews to inform these decisions. However, pageviews prioritize clicks over quality. So if not pageviews, then what? This very same question led us to create Engaged Time, the average amount of time visitors spend actively interacting with your content.
Engaged Time tracks active reader interactions — what is resonating with readers and what got them deeper into a website — and over time, can create a clearer path to revenue.
Engaged Time can aid audience development efforts in multiple ways. With Engaged Time, publishers can:
- Identify stories that are getting lots of clicks, but not being read. This allows for troubleshooting, as this may come down to the presentation and promotion of that content.
- Use historical Engaged Time data to see where readers are spending their time. Top stories should not ranked by pageviews, but rather by how many minutes people read. For example, MLB.com discovered that while some fans simply want the score of a game, many stayed because they were drawn to key quotes and takeaways. This helps go beyond virality and see the true value of content.
- Build a profile across channels. Engaged Time allows publishers to formulate an effective strategy around the dissemination of content across more channels. For instance, editors can give their most engaging stories new life on social when Engaged Time wanes hours after publishing by focusing on the dominant points of reader entry.
- See what engages readers. Look at stories and see what they have in common. Was it the headline or lede? Did it tell a story? Did it have images and video? With enough practice, themes will quickly begin to emerge. For instance, the South China Morning Post uses real-time insights to optimize landing pages, elevating over-performing content ensure engaging content is placed in the most valuable real estate on those pages.
- Extend the life of evergreen content. Older articles with low pageviews, but high engagement is an opportunity to reinvigorate good content. Identify these pieces — they are prime candidates to be repromoted to capitalize on the momentum.
Engaged Time: Why it matters
So why use Engaged Time? Readers who spend more than a minute reading content will recall more of its facts compared to those who spend less than 15 seconds. In contrast, pageviews can give you a snapshot of your readers, but make it difficult to adjust and optimize in real time.
Engaged Time also helps decode content issues that are discouraging readers from going further into your site. And, the better publishers become at quickly removing the hurdles to deeper engagement, the easier it will be to grow loyal audiences.
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