The path to loyalty: The audience data that encourages deeper visits

In last week’s post, we discussed the importance of discovery — using your intimate knowledge of readers to make small adjustments that can improve engagement. However, the next step can be more complicated — encouraging deeper reading.

Below, we discuss the practical ways you can use your audience knowledge to increase the amount of time visitors spend on your site, and as importantly, inform repeatable, long-term success.

Editor’s note: This post is part 2 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.

Paying attention to historical audience signals

A historical knowledge of your audience, backed by data, is valuable context to proactively see and prevent barriers along the reader journey.

recirculation for loyalty

We see this plan to address optimizations as three-fold:

1. Leveraging historical data to understand where readers tend to drop off

2. Reviewing content and determining areas for improvement or experimentation

3. Having the infrastructure in place for timely execution

With these actions, publishers have a better opportunity to increase Recirculation, a real-time insight into the paths your audiences are taking to your other valuable content.

What is Recirculation?

A real-time metric that compares the number of people on a given page to those who have moved on from that page to another piece of content. In Chartbeat, it’s shown as the percentage of people who remain on a subsequent page compared to the current audience of the initial page. Learn more

In practice, we’ve seen this done to great effect for Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), a Swiss publisher that used real-time scroll depth data to conduct visual experiments. This resulted in a 4% increase in readers engaging with the article until the end.

Don’t be fooled by the percentage — you’re now talking about hundreds of thousands more monthly readers that are engaged with your content instead of dropping off your site.

Making your efforts repeatable

All of the proactive work that went into the discovery and experimentation stages will get you closer to the goal of creating returning, loyal readers. This process begins with:

1. Evaluating your strengths

2. Improving upon your weaknesses

3. Encouraging experimentation where possible

NZZ experimentation results

In the case of NZZ we referenced above, the publisher hypothesized that its images may have been a deterrent to further reading, so they began to experiment with their visualizations. This level of experimentation could also be applied to headers, subheaders, and quotes, assuming your historical data points to room for improvement.

That said, your organizational success cannot be defined or measured until cultural barriers are also removed. Removing internal impediments to experimentation are crucial — this not only allows for a culture of collaboration to permeate through your organization, it helps you learn from both wins and losses.

The path to deeper reading: Our takeaways

Some final takeaways:

Let history inform, not dictate the future

Use the technology and data available to you to make optimizations to your content that are informed by past reader behaviors. That said, publishers can’t be guided by the data alone, so experimentation is critical to finding the best long-term formula for success.

Remove internal barriers

We’ve seen that a culture of digital experimentation can lead to success, but it begins with celebrating the wins and learning from the losses. Overall, we’ve seen that the risk of trying new methods of reader engagement is well worth the reward of long-term audience loyalty.

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