The path to reader loyalty: Discovery towards stronger engagement tactics

When we speak to global publishers about engagement strategies, the conversation inevitably turns to optimizing the audience’s journey towards long-term reader loyalty. Our message to them: An engaging journey (or even reader revenue) begins with opening new paths — and not creating additional barriers — to more of your content.

The discovery process – understanding your readers to know where optimizations will have the greatest impact — is crucial to building a path to audience loyalty. Reader loyalty matters — those audiences tend to read three times more than new visitors. And, as we discuss in our newest guide, Navigating the New Reader Journey, it offers a signal into your most effective engagement tactics.

reader journey gif

More below on the discovery process, why it is so critical to building a sound reader journey towards loyalty, and key tactics that can contribute to greater success.

Editor’s note: This post is part 1 of a series on creating a defined path to reader loyalty. Want to skip ahead to see all of the tactics that improve the reader experience? Get the complete guide.

Discovery: Uncover unique audience behaviors

The first step to streamlining your reader journey is understanding how your audiences discover content. This will help you uncover unique insights to reader behaviors. These are particularly useful to capitalize on those small, yet critical windows of opportunity after a visitor lands on a site to engage them deeper into your content.

To start, use your referral and device data to analyze:

1. Where your readers are coming from (e.g., channels, devices)

2. The types of experiences those audiences expect

One such example is during major events, such as the recent U.S. elections. These are instances where you typically have a larger sample size of readers, and thus a better opportunity to see trends in how your content discovery and engagement behaviors.

2020 election night search traffic

Above, we see how readers interacted with election-related news via search channels, peaking as updates were being made across news sites.

2020 election night social traffic

Social pageviews followed a similar trend to search, but continued to drive pageviews well after election night, as readers sought reactions and commentary across those channels.

Your audience’s search and social behaviors are key to your content strategy — and as the example above shows — a massive opportunity to see how you can take advantage of increased traffic the next time around.

Determine the best measurement frameworks

Uncovering the ways readers find your content is only as effective as the frameworks to measure their impact over time. To do so, take stock of your wins (where readers engage longer) and losses (where they tend to drop off) and determine the ways you can serve them better.

1. Optimize your content through small adjustments

Once you’ve published content, the work is not over. Adjustments can still be made to garner attention from readers and begin optimizing for Recirculation into your other content. Start with the headline — our data says it can increase Quality Clicks to your content — and consider other optimizations to your homepage like visual experimentation.

2. Don’t let your efforts go to waste

Your wins and adjustments are signals to invest in similar strategies or use as a baseline for further experimentation.

Consider your evergreen content, for example. Your “zombie” articles — otherwise known as content that still resonates with audiences over time — with updated information or links that can be updated to improve your ability to recirculate audiences deeper into your content.

Get readers started on the path to loyalty: Key takeaways

A few quick takeaways on the tactics we outlined above:

1. Discovery is critical to the planning process

Experimentation that’s worth your time and resources cannot begin without an investment in reader discovery. Get to know your audience, where they’re coming from, and the devices that they most frequently use to access your content. Then, you’re far better equipped to help guide them deeper into more of your hard-earned content.

2. Measure within a framework that makes sense

Whether your team has goals around engagement or reader revenue, creating a framework to measure your success is a crucial starting point. From there, you can start paying attention to your high traffic content to uncover the reasons behind those wins, and translate those findings into actionable optimizations for the pieces that underperformed.

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