Marketers and Publishers: We are One
In the production of content, companies are thinking more like publishers, and publishers are thinking more like marketers as we all work to secure the interest and attention of our audience.
Whether the goal is to inform, educate or entertain, our audience is the most important piece of our content. And as the industry continues in the shift to focus on delivering targeted and relevant content to an attentive and active online audience, engagement is what forges the bridge between readers, content, and a brand.
As Noel Penzer, CEO, Time Out, the print and digital publisher who has always built user experiences as a “two-way network,” proclaimed at the recent Monetizing Media Conference, the time is now for publishers to focus on their brand and the relationship with their audience.
Audience engagement is about fostering a two-way network built on interactions, both reader-to-reader and reader-to-writer with your content and brand at the center of it all. Engagement does not represent one-off actions but can be defined as a series of interactions, with increasing effort from passive to active (i.e. liking to following to commenting), moving up the stages of the Engagement Ladder.
Social Media’s Role
With so much controversy surrounding changing algorithms and the commoditization of content, publishers are getting smarter about striking direct connections with readers on their own site. While social media can be a powerful source for content discovery, it’s been hard for publishers to get readers to stick around.
From analyzing user behaviour across our network, we were able to confirm exactly that, yes social media is a clear driver of discovery and traffic but results in the highest bounce rates.
While our data shows that on average 85% of social media traffic comes from Facebook, what is important to note is that while social media is a good source of inbound traffic, these unique visitors spend 89% less time on site than organic sources.
85% of social media traffic comes from Facebook, although they spend 89% less time on site
To combat high bounce rates, publishers need to foster a direct relationship with their audience through measurable opportunities for on-site interaction and conversion.
Social Media for Engagement: The Perils
By leveraging social media for content discovery (versus the platform for audience engagement, leaving your audience and data behind) efforts can be focused on building a community to keep users on-site with your content, contributors, and brand at the center of it all.
The benefits to keeping readers on-site and engaged empowers publishers to not only have a direct relationship with their audience but of great importance to financial survival, gain control of their audience data and monetization.
Taking Your Audience Back
If you’re ready to commit to fostering a direct relationship with your audience and to make your website their online destination for news and events, we’ve outlined a few questions to consider:
- What social channels are helping you acquire new readers?
- When readers visit your site what prompts them to stay?
- What measurable opportunities exist for users to interact with your content, creators, and other community members?
- How are you monitoring and optimizing your site in order to maximize on-site interactions?
- Are you able to measure your on-site and social engagement across your user journey and the resulting impact on KPI’s?
Maximizing Return on Engagement
Create Opportunities for Onsite Interactions and Conversion
It’s important to create opportunities for on-site engagement and to be able quantify the value at each stage of the user journey. And with increased on-site interactions comes more opportunities for conversion, registration, subscription, and ad impressions on yield.
Starting with a frictionless login through social sign on or email/user verification, can readers then go on to interact with other users and content? Can your readers share content across social throughout your site, rate articles, follow other readers and content contributors, which can then power content recommendations, relevant alerts and other triggers for re-engagement both with your content and community members? Creating and quantifying such user behaviour and on-site interactions are the first steps to maximizing return on engagement.
Convert Anonymous to Highly Engaged Users
Building a highly engaged community of active users and loyal readers is key to building a strong two-way network. Engagement behaviour is progressive and so as opportunities for on-site interactions increase, participation increases and you can accelerate participation up the ladder from anonymous, to known, lurker, passively engaged, and ultimately active engaged/subscribed.
“The concept of a ‘ladder’ demonstrates a user’s decision-making process, which is affected by his or her past experience with the website, and which expresses the user’s wishes and free will.”
MIT Sloan Report, Building the Business Case for Engagement
Increase Scrolling in the Deep
There is a much needed shift taking place where publishers and advertisers are looking to the impact of engagement as a key distinguisher in their value proposition to advertisers, as we see in the case of Native Advertising. In the case of typical ad units, ultimately, scroll depth increases in addition to below the fold ad units from all the on-site interactions that exists below the fold.
In an analysis of the impact of engagement below the fold, in this case commenting, we uncovered that 68% of all unique visitors spend more than 15% of their time reading comments. We can report that active engagement results in a 73% increase in pageviews per visit, and a 70% increase in visits per month. And with more time spent below the fold and across pages, and sections, the result is more ad impressions.
Active engagement results in a 73% increase in pageviews per visit, and a 70% increase in visits
Power the Results You’re Looking For
Because publishers and media companies are fiercely competing for audiences’ and advertisers’ limited attention, it is imperative to build a direct relationship with your audience to maximize engagement opportunities around your content to effectively power digital revenue.
Here’s how to calculate ROE:
People are those required to manage your community, while the platform (which will reduce your management costs) will drive engagement and attention time down the page and across the site to drive incremental revenue through additional ad impressions and/or subscriptions.