While it’s easy to gauge the growth of your audience, it can be difficult to develop a clear portrait of who they are unless you have the right tools. Building a user community on your site with a community engagement tool is critical for getting to know your audience and what makes them tick.
With more users discussing news and content on and off social media, audience development on your site is now critical for attracting a wider range of readers, accelerating your engaged user strategy, and increasing subscriptions.
Taking simple steps like creating a comments section, using registration as a gateway to participate in the comments, and providing interactive content like live blogs or AMAs can be the push your audience needs to subscribe to your site. These should be a key part of an audience growth strategy for publishers and digital media organizations alike.
So let’s look at five simple ways building a user community can help accelerate your subscription and registration strategy.
Offer users a two-way dialogue
The days of readers passively consuming news are long gone. Today’s users not only want to read the author’s opinions, but they also want to contribute to the conversation in real-time.
You can grow your audience by implementing a comments section that provides them with a space to engage in a two-way dialogue with journalists and other readers, so they can share their perspectives on current events.
This enhanced dialogue can actively attract new users and drive subscriptions among those who want to leave their thoughts or opinions on content. In fact, research shows that 60.9% of commenters or comment readers would like it if journalists clarified factual questions in news comment sections.
Gate your user community and comments
A discussion space can be used to further your audience development strategy. Once you’ve set up a comments section that allows users in the community to have a live two-way dialogue, you can gate it to incentivize people to sign up so they can participate in the conversation.
Gating the comments section can help boost subscriptions and registrations by encouraging your audience to create an account so they can leave feedback on published content.
The signup process should be effortless, with users able to quickly enter their name and email address so they can start engaging with your community about the topics that are related to their interests.
Building a relationship between commenters and journalists
When building an audience, the relationship between the reporter and reader is often overlooked. Building a user community with an active comments section not only provides users with a place to communicate, it also gives journalists and writers a resource they can use to build a closer relationship with their readers, and better understand them.
Journalists can use community feedback to learn what their readers’ interests are, what content readers prefer, and then use that information to inform their future content strategy.
For example, if a journalist produces an article on the Olympics Games, the audience can ask questions about related subtopics and sporting events that might make good subjects for future articles.
As journalists engage with the community to better understand their interests, they can enhance their coverage so that their content becomes more pertinent to readers and more compelling for both subscribed and unsubscribed users. And compelling content leads to higher reader interest and drives audience growth.
Using first-party data to provide more relevant content
Building a user community on your site also provides you with direct access to valuable first-party data that you can use to analyze your audience’s profiles and break down the topics they’re most interested in. Like the comments, this also provides you with valuable insights you can use to produce more relevant content. Leveraging this information should be a priority to build and retain your audience.
For instance, if a user is interested in sports like football or boxing, you can use an AI-driven community engagement solution to recommend articles written by experts on these topics to encourage them to spend more time consuming content on your site.
Using a community engagement solution to offer registered users personalized feeds and content recommendations is the perfect way to entice them to subscribe, so they automatically keep up-to-date with the content they find most compelling.
Having an active user community provides you with a resource you can use to participate in engaging real-time content like live Q&As, where a journalist or expert in a particular field can host live Q&A sessions with the community, allowing users to ask questions and actively influence the conversation taking place.
One example of this approach is highlighted by The Independent, who recently started running live Q&As and Ask Me Anything sessions (AMAs) to give users an opportunity to ask questions to experts, journalists, and public figures. In one Q&A with a travel correspondent, users could ask questions about Omicron travel restrictions.
It’s also important to note that live Q&As also function as a connection-builder, giving your audience a chance to have a deeper connection with experts and journalists who tend to be guarded from the audience. This opportunity to connect can help you grow your audience naturally while encouraging many users to subscribe.
Building an active user community pays dividends
Giving your audience a place to come together to share their thoughts pays dividends, not just because it helps attract users to register to your site, but also because it helps you create more high-quality audience segments, which you can share with advertisers to encourage them to place ads on your site.