It’s a publisher’s dream to view the analytics on recently published content, especially when the data shows a healthy volume of pageviews and reader engagement. The data validates that the topic was a strategic win for your publication as it brings readers onto your website where you can monetize their interest in your content.
One of the challenges that publishers can run into is reader retainment. The initial influx of traffic is great for morale, but it’s hard to maintain that positive outlook if bounce rates are high and pages per session are low.
Hope can still be preserved in these situations. By creating a vibrant community of passionately engaged readers, you lay the groundwork to guide more people through your subscription funnel. When you have enough readers willfully contributing their own comments to topical discussions, they’re more engaged in your site experience. This is the key to earning that customer loyalty.
Featured Comments From The Journalists Kick Off Lively Discussions
PostMedia is a media conglomerate with multiple publishing sites. They implemented what was known as the first comment initiative, a plan that incentivized content creators to leave the first comment on their published stories. It was an initiative implemented across 15 publications, and it worked like a charm. Over the span of three months, PostMedia reported a 380% increase in total average comments, and a 55% increase in registrations per news article.
An editorial commenting strategy kickstarts the debate around the published topic, which incentivizes more readers to participate. Over 60% of news commenters or comment readers prefer when journalists participate in community discussions. By inspiring your own creators to open the doors to commenting and community participation, you can convert more passive readers into active commenters.
This is a great way to build vibrant community forums that inspire more readers to share their thoughts and opinions about the content. You want more readers to think this way because each instance of participation is a valuable piece of first-party data that you can leverage. You’ll learn about your readers’ interests and passions, which you can use to engage with them again in the future. Use those insights to personalize future content experiences so that you guide them further down the funnel towards becoming a paying subscriber.
Featured Comments Seamlessly Increase User Registrations
Sportsnet is the leading sports media brand in Canada and, like PostMedia, they saw an opportunity to guide readers through the funnel using the comments section on posted content. Traditionally, Sportsnet posts included a “load comments” button that readers would have to click to open the comments section.
The Sportsnet team suspected this button was disrupting the reader experience and discouraging engagement. As a pilot program, Sportsnet removed the button and replaced it with the top featured user comments that had the most reader engagement. Using Viafoura’s audience engagement solution, the test results showed a 262% increase in the number of comments from readers, and an 80% increase in time spent on page by those commenters.
Most importantly, Sportsnet was able to insert registration forms for readers to participate in community discussions. This resulted in a 14% increase in registrations per million pageviews, a massive ROI for their efforts. Registered users have a conversion rate that’s 45 times higher than non-registered users, making this a crucial piece of the subscription revenue model.
Use Insights From Existing Commenters To Guide More Readers Through The Funnel
Once users are registered, you can categorize them as “known” readers. This means you have enough first-party data from their engagement with your website to build rich audience profiles.
You can look at comments left on existing content to gain a better understanding of reader tastes, preferences, and sensibilities. You can also work backwards from those comments and identify what pages registered users viewed that ultimately led them to engage with a particular piece of content. Using an audience insights tool, you can determine how much time registered users spend on pages, how many pages they viewed, and other key pieces of data.
With these profiles, you now have a clearer understanding of what inspires readers to register so they can participate in community discussions. Now, you can use those insights to feed your content recommendation modules, and create highly personalized experiences for new readers.
Make sure you show featured comments on each new article so more new readers feel inspired to add their own opinion to the discussion. This is how you can guide more qualified readers to journey through the funnel on your website towards the path of registration.