Today we’re going to go over a few different approaches that help you achieve this goal by focusing on increasing reader engagement.
Before you can start growing your readership, expanding your publication, and increasing revenue, you must engage and retain the readers that are coming to you already. There are many ways to achieve this, and together we’ll go over five.
1. Read and Unread Articles
Allowing readers to track what they have and haven’t read lets them rapidly consume your content and keep peace of mind between multiple visits. The goal here is simple: don’t make the individual think. When you make a person question themselves, you open the door for an app exit. That’s the last thing you want.
We can solve this by adding read and unread indicators into the application. Read articles are tracked for the individual and allow them to see what content they’ve already consumed at-a-glance. With these indicators in place the individual can check the app multiple times a day and never lose track of where they are. This creates a positive experience and promotes retention.
Do your readers know where they left off last when they return to your publication?
2. History and Bookmarks
A very frustrating experience for readers is not being able to share the article they read last week that really caught their interest because they can’t find it. Perhaps they’re having a conversation and want to share the article at that moment to prove a point. Not being able to find an article quickly may leave readers with a negative impression of your app.
Just think of the last time you couldn’t find an article you wanted to read again or share with others. Were you frustrated? Did it affect your immediate opinion of that publication? We want to ensure that none of your readers have that experience. Let’s go over two different ways of solving this problem.
The first method, history, is a proactive implementation in the form of a chronological list of the articles the individual has read, starting from most recently read and going back in time. This lets the reader rapidly find what they’re looking for in human terms. They think, “I read it last week. On Tuesday, or maybe Wednesday.” All they have to do is navigate back to the Tuesday or Wednesday period of their history and voila! There’s their article.
The second solution, bookmarks, is more of a reactive implementation. Bookmarks serve a very specific use-case in that they provide a specific list of articles the reader wants to save for later that they can choose to add and remove from.
Weigh your options. Do you think your audience will be reactive, only needing to revisit content they’ve shown interest in? Or are they likely to lose their place, needing a proactive solution to step in for them?
Make Your Readers Feel Valued and Important
Before we move on to tip number three, I’d like to cover an important concept in reader engagement. Your readers want to feel like you value and put importance on their time and opinions, and whether they realize it or not, they want to personally put value and importance in your publication. You have to nurture your readers and actively work for these feelings to grow. Considering this, provide readers with the options and tools to feel valued by you, and at the same time get value from your publication.
There are many ways we can do this, which we’ll cover in the remaining tips. To get started you must ask yourself the following:
Do your readers feel valued by your publication? And do you know if they put a lot of value in your publication?
If you can’t honestly answer, our tips below will help you find an answer to these questions.
3. Instill Value With Personal Preferences
Whether your publication covers a broad spectrum of content or small subset of niche subjects, one thing is certain: not every reader is going to be invested in all of your content. It’s a hard fact to swallow, but it’s true. Some readers only come for a piece of your offering and trying to convince them otherwise is an uphill battle.
So what do you do about it? Show your readers that you value them and allow them to invest personally in your offering through personal content preferences. Personal content preferences allow the user to tell you what content matters to them so you can serve it to them as quickly as efficiently as possible. This can work a lot of different ways such as:
- Bubbling preferred content to the top of the feed
- Excluding non-preferred content from the feed
- Creating a separate space for preferred content and featured content
- Allowing the user to create segments of preferred content from all content
- Providing customizable push notifications for preferred content
No matter how you implement it, one thing holds true:
When readers get what they’re looking for they stay engaged and are happier.
4. Convey Importance Through One-on-one Engagement
The stats don’t lie when you ask whether or not one-on-one engagement with your readers improves engagement or increases readership (through referrals). Just look to Neil Patel, founder of KissMetrics and QuickSprout. Neil shared that actively replying to comments on QuickSprout boosted his return visitor rate to 40.8%, putting it 8% higher than KissMetrics where replies were less of a focus.
Unfortunately the stats can’t show you how to create this engagement. Neil had something to share about this as well:
“Replying to comments by far had the biggest impact. It’s caused readers to continually come back, comment, share the posts via Twitter and Facebook and even recommend the blog to their friends. The second most popular tactic that boosted my engagement was ending each blog post with a question.”
And it’s true. Starting the dialogue can be as simple as posing a question to your readers and following through with engagement. You can start the dialogue in many ways, such as:
- Asking users to email you their answer, and provide a form to send the email.
- Adding article comments, public or private, and engaging with users within the comment thread.
- Push your readers to write a response of their own and publish it. This works especially well with social media, where users can mention your publication or use a themed hashtag.
So ask yourself:
Am I engaging with my readers?
5. Continue Nurturing Engagement With Priority Content
People are social creatures, and nothing is more engaging to social creatures than exclusivity. It makes us feel important, original, and keeps us coming back for more. You can create this type of social behaviour in your very own mobile app.
The key to nurturing the perception of importance is to make the individual feel like you’re engaging them directly. In this case, personal preferences won’t do the trick because the person feels that they’ve done all the work. In this case, you need to reach out to them directly, when they’re engaged in your content. You can do this with opt-in only priority content.
What is opt-in, priority content?
To start off, you understand what aspects of your content is most successful and you’re actively working to get that content in front of every single reader. That’s your priority content. Secondly, to make users feel important, you can’t prioritize this content with everyone as they may feel alienated if they aren’t interested in it. You can offset this by making it exclusive. Readers have to opt in to this content, making it feel more premium and valuable.
By combining these two factors, you get a small collection of content that is your best-performing, and you have a group of readers who are asking you to deliver it to them. This creates a highly engaged environment where users are much more likely to comment, share, and refer to your publication. It’s a win-win for everyone.
To get started on this, you need to get the answers to the following question:
Do you know what your top performing content is?
If not, how can you discover that information? How can you aggregate this content together, opt in readers, and then deliver it to them?
Increasing reader engagement is very important. Investing in a mobile application requires time, effort, and money, so every choice you make about it needs to be goal-oriented. By investing into your current readership and increasing their engagement, you will get invaluable information about who your audience is, what content resonates with them, and where your opportunities to expand and develop are. All of this can help you in making bigger, broader decisions that can help you achieve your goals.