How Recirculation builds engagement, supports reader acquisition efforts

Publishers spend far too much on reader acquisition to lose them for reasons within their control. The tactics that drive reader revenue for publishers is coming at an increasing price — subscriber acquisition costs have grown by approximately 70%, while consumer willingness to pay is steadily declining, according to ProfitWell data.

That’s why we believe optimizing for Recirculation is so important. The risk of leading readers to a content desert — drawing them to your site with engaging content but given no avenue to find more — can be considerably reduced. 

What is Recirculation?

Recirculation is a real-time metric that compares the number of people on a page to the number of people who move from that content on to another new page.

With a sound Recirculation strategy in place, publishers give readers more opportunities to engage deeper into their site, improving the chances of creating and retaining reader loyalty. Not to mention, engaged readers are more likely to become loyal subscribers.

(Related: Solving for subscriptions: How the Membership Puzzle Project addresses the paid vs non-paid divide)

Recirculation along the reader journey

Recirculation also translates to quality along the reader journey. For example, an effective Recirculation strategy should, at the very least, accomplish two things: 

Anatomy of a Recirculation strategy

  1. Show off the depth and quality of your content with a sound Recirculation strategy, so every reader knows that you have more than just the great article they clicked on.
  2. Given the amount of readers that come from external platforms like Google and Facebook, almost all of which are landing on an article rather than your homepage, a clear recirculation strategy can push those readers further down the loyalty journey.
  3. Most publishers rely on programmatic widgets to surface related stories, but related links — chosen by editors at placed at strategic points in the story — are an effective way to encourage deeper visits. Especially on mobile, where more widgets appear at the bottom of the page (where no readers will see them).

One way to promote articles with high Recirculation is through linking, while adapting the strategy based on whether it’s being optimized for search or social. Some additional food for thought:

  • Our research has found that the majority of clicks happen just above the digital fold, at page depths of 400 to 600 pixels (as indicated below), so it’s important to optimize your articles for those related links.
  • Attempt to use larger links (including linked headlines), which correlate with higher click-through rates.
  • We’ve found that sites with links placed more closely together perform about 2.5x better than sites with more pixels between links.

What next? Put Recirculation tactics to the test

Publishers can quickly identify the drivers of low engagement, but poor Recirculation can have a significant impact as well. In order to make the most of your content resources, make sure to:

  • Spot popular articles that are a dead end for readers. These represent your best opportunities to drive high-level Recirculation. 
  • Tailor your Recirculation strategy. You can do this based on the visitor type or traffic source that is most prevalent on the page your optimizing.
  • Leverage the Heads Up Display. This shows you where readers are leaving so you can make sure the only reason they’re leaving the page is for another story on the site.
  • Use historical engagement data. This will allow you to find good candidates for related links. 

In general, these common Recirculation tactics hold true for many publishers. However, we’re aware that every audience is different. Therefore, a successful linking strategy should be tailored to the metrics and desired outcomes that help publishers accomplish their specific goals.

Want to learn more about Recirculation and its role in the Real-Time Dashboard? Sign in to Chartbeat or request a demo.

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