What’s your preferred experience with published content? Would you prefer a site that feeds you generic articles, or a publisher that knows how to personalize the content you see? The obvious answer is the second option. A personalized website is far more enjoyable as it provides the topics, opinions, and commentary that speak directly to your unique set of interests.
Some publications are better at personalization than others. These publications know how to identify if an article, or even a headline, will encourage readers to spend more time on the site. Their content is informative and capable of adding value to the reader’s experience so they feel compelled to consume the story. They also know how to use highly targeted links within the articles to drive up clickthrough rates.
By adopting personalization as part of an overarching content strategy, publishers remain connected to readers who are very protective of what they consume. There’s a rising trend of “selective news avoidance” all over the world. According to CNN, only 23% of people get their news from news websites. Young people, in particular, are more likely to use social media for news updates.
Can Personalized Content Trump News Avoidance?
Reuters Institute commissioned their annual Digital News Report. The study analyzed a YouGov survey of 93,000 participants from 46 different countries. Among the key findings was a growing lack of trust in newsworthy content, a problem with its strongest foothold in the United States. Only 26% of US respondents say they trust the news, a three point decline from 2021, and the lowest positive sentiment among all surveyed nations.
Common reasons cited for selective news avoidance have to do with growing polarization, perceived media bias, and a sense of too much politics in the news. But a senior Reuters executive, who helped commission the Digital News Report, says the issue goes much deeper.
“A large number of those who selectively avoid the news say the news has a negative effect on their mood,” says Rasmus K. Nielsen, Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.
Click-Bait Headlines Or Insightful Titles: Which Is The Best Approach?
What are the primary causes for news avoidance? According to the International Institute of Information Technology – Hyderabad (IIIT-H), one of the reasons could be that some publishers rely too frequently on “click-bait headlines.”
In a research study entitled “Clickbait’s Impact On Visual Attention-An Eye Tracker Study,” IIIT-H studied gaze-fixation from 60 participants to measure the amount of visual attention paid by readers to different articles. One group of articles had click-bait headlines, while the other group used educational titles. The results found that click-bait headlines received far less visual attention from readers than articles with non-click-bait headlines.
Click-bait headlines promote a misleading title separate from the crux and context of the article content. According to IIIT-H, people feel duped by misleading headlines, feeling a disconnection between the promoted title and the body of the article. They abandon the page rather than continue the experience, reducing total engagement rates.
Instead of creating false headlines to trigger quick clickthrough rates, successful publishers create thought provoking titles, encouraging readers to consume the entire article. The best way to create headlines that generate engagement is to develop a deeper understanding of what resonates with the intended reading audience. To gain those audience insights, you can use the power of first-party data to align engagement strategies with audience preferences.
First-Party Data Is The Intersection For Creators And Readers
Two of the best examples of first-party data are pageviews and time on-site. You can rest assured that people are intrigued by your content if both of these numbers are trending in the upward direction.
Aim to develop a deeper understanding of what best resonates with your readers. You can identify commonalities in things like the tone of the articles, the positioning of the headlines, common topical themes, and certain keywords that appear in articles with the highest amount of reader engagement.
Your creative team can access these findings in your audience insights platform dashboard to view the results for themselves. They can view the data and clearly identify which articles earn the most engagement from readers. This will help them pivot the content strategy to focus on future stories that support greater audience engagement.
Profile, Personalize, Perform: The Power Of First-Party Data
There’s a lot of power to be wielded with first-party data, which gives your publication a leg up on competitors. Your audience insights platform stores demographic details about your readers, including variables like age, location, backgrounds, and past consumption behaviors on your website. Pool these insights together into rich audience profiles that tell your creators how different types of readers are likely to engage with the content.
You can also segment your audience into different buckets: new readers, known readers, and subscribed readers. The difference in each audience category is measured by their degree of engagement with your website. New readers are fresh to the site, which means there’s very little behavioral data to profile. Known readers are people who have provided at least one example of first-party demographic data that you can use to start building your profiles. Subscribed readers are those who have fully converted and actively paid for premium access to your best content.
As you build your audience profiles, focus intently on the subscribed audience. Look back at the patterns that led people on the journey to fill out the subscription form. What were the articles they read? What common topics or themes were prevalent in those stories? Where did they spend the most time on your site?
Using these enriched profiles, coupled with the data you have on your top performing content, you have all of the necessary information to personalize what readers experience the next time they visit your site. You can deploy highly segmented examples of content that appeal to different readers at each stage in the consumption journey with your website.
Focus on creating personalized content that enables those deep journeys, which should help boost subscription conversion rates by 30%. Watch those pageview and time on-site metrics shoot through the roof by deploying this strategic approach!