Why recirculation should be one of your KPIs and how to increase it, with takeaways from The Independent

Recirculation: a real-time metric that compares the number of visitors to a page to the number of users who move from that content to another page.

Why is recirculation a valuable KPI?

Recirculation is more valuable to your business than acquiring new visitors. Not only is acquisition becoming increasingly difficult and costly, viewing more pages on each visit means higher engagement, loyalty and propensity to subscribe, all of which directly correlate to revenue.

According to Chartbeat, there are 3 things that make up the anatomy of a recirculation strategy:

  • Show off the depth and quality of your content, so every reader knows that you have more than just the great article they clicked on
  • Given the amount of readers that come from external platforms like Google and Facebook, almost all of which are landing on an article rather than your homepage, a clear recirculation strategy can push those readers further down the loyalty journey
  • Most publishers rely on programmatic widgets to surface related stories, but related links — chosen by editors and placed at strategic points in the story — are an effective way to encourage deeper visits. Especially on mobile, where more widgets appear at the bottom of the page (where no readers will see them)

The Independent, mastering the recirculation game

Just a single article contains 5 recirculation techniques for you to steal:

1. Backlinks on keywords

Learn to link: add backlinks on keywords, leading to other articles or content topics:

Best practice: differentiate these linked words and phrases from other text by placing them in another color or underlining them. This practice should be consistent across your site so users recognize where to click.

But don’t forget to check your average scroll depth for optimal click potential:

Chartbeat research has found that the majority of clicks happen just above the digital fold, at page depths of 400 to 600 pixels (as indicated below), so it’s important to optimize your articles for those related links.

Discover Chartbeat’s other research on optimal article length

2. An interactive, Instagram story style slide-show shares 6 top articles

💡 Images with links generate 63% more clicks than those of text-only (data from Lenfest Institute) and, considering the amount of time your audience spends on social media, taking inspiration from there to increase engagement can only prove beneficial.

The key to good recirculation is through interactivity – engaging visitors in a positive way to make suggested articles feel personal and non-intrusive, being careful to cater to the reader’s interests as well as your own.

3. Personalized recommendations based on the content topic

This is more valuable than recommending content at the end of the article as Average Scroll Depth metrics will likely reveal that a large percentage of your audience don’t read until the end.

4. ‘Most popular’ content recommendations at the side of the page

💡 Generic wording (e.g. “Related Stories”) generates higher CTRs than more complex wording (e.g. “What Else People Can Read on This Topic”) according to data from the Center for Media Engagement. Note how all of these examples from The Independent involve phrases with a maximum of 2 words.

What’s more, inviting readers to discover your most popular articles allows them to feel part of a shared conversation, being ‘in the know’ by reading the articles that others are reading. This was Netflix’s thought process behind the “Top 10 in [insert your country]” feature.

5. At the end, a small “More about” text offering links to key topics featured in the article

A final chance to lead your user on to another article, however don’t bet on all readers reaching this point.

Don’t recirculate without thinking

Poor recirculation can have more of a negative than positive impact on engagement, so don’t go overboard and make sure to consider your recirculation tactics carefully.

For The Independent, these 5 strategies were all employed in a single article. Of course, recirculation is valuable, but so is a pleasant, engaging user experience. If there are too many distractions or frustrating features that prevent the reader from being able to consume the article ‘in peace’, then recirculation efforts will be wasted and you may even push your reader away. This is especially true for websites that depend on advertising (an additional distraction for readers), or for users visiting on mobile devices where the screen is smaller.

You should also aim to make the most out of your content resources for recirculation:

  • Surface popular content that are a dead end for readers – these represent your best opportunities to drive recirculation
  • Segment traffic and tailor your recirculation strategy based on source, user interests or device used
  • Leverage the Heads Up Display. This helps you know if the reason why readers are leaving the page is because of another story on your website
  • Use historical engagement data to find good potential recircultation links


This article was originally published by The Audiencers. The Audiencers is a B2B publication by Poool, The Membership and Subscription Suite, a simple, all-in-one platform for digital content producers to convert, manage and retain their members and subscribers. Find out more on poool.tech or book a free demo with their team.

You’ve Lost a Subscriber, Now What?

Before you continue on the path of subscriber decline, there are some steps you can take to flip the fate of your brand around.

If you’re down one, ten or a couple hundred subscribers, you’re probably facing some pressure to improve conversion rates and reduce churn. Not sure how to help your brand do more than just barely cling onto its survival and climb the ladder of success? Well, you’ve come to the right place. 

We know that losing a subscriber is frustrating — and we also know that your situation isn’t hopeless. It may actually be a blessing in disguise, because you can use your learnings to prevent more churn from taking place. This is your chance to make your platform’s subscription and retention rates better than ever.

A researcher from International News Media Association (INMA), Grzegorz Piechota, explains how “the subscriber journey doesn’t end with the purchase.” 

After subscribing for content, users embark on an entirely new journey.

Unfortunately, Piechota adds that “publishers don’t really seem to be very much focused on monitoring [the] health of the relationship after somebody subscribed.”

If media organizations don’t understand what causes a user to unsubscribe, how can they know how to prevent more churn in the future?

Before you continue on the path of subscriber decline, there are some steps you can take to flip the fate of your brand around. To help, we’ve broken down the process of understanding why your subscriber churned, and how to prevent it from happening again. 

1. Determine How Engaged Subscribers Were Before Unsubscribing

Instead of predicting reader engagement just with the number of clicks on your articles, you need to understand your reader habits on a more granular level. 

As stated by the Local Media Association, “regular reading habit is the single biggest predictor of subscriber retention.”

Dig into your data to determine if, based on their behavior, your lost subscribers were actively engaging with your platform.

Have they recently become passive consumers, logging in only once in a blue moon to read content? Or did they flag any toxic comments before unsubscribing? 

Anything you can learn about the time period before they churned will shed light into why they unsubscribed.

2. Assess Lost Subscribers Through Your Front-End Tools

By now, you may be well informed on the value socially immersive engagement tools can add to a platform. If you do have engagement tools on your website, you have access to critical, first-party data related to your subscribers. Not to mention info on those who have churned. 

Gather as much intel as possible on your churned subscribers by looking to how much they were interacting with your tools. You may be able to learn something important. For instance, are subscribers churning once engagement with your community-building tools drops? If so, your readers may be failing to form meaningful bonds to your platform due to a lack of moderation or real-time commenting.

Look to engagement-specific metrics for deeper insights, like the time spent in comments, engagement velocity and civility trends.

It’s also worth investigating the workflow between your engagement tool and paywall providers. If they’re properly talking to one another, your paywall provider should be alerted when a subscriber’s engagement level tapers off. This would allow you to predict and prevent churn before it ever happens.

3. Send Personalized Offers That Encourage Re-Subscribing

You may have lost a subscriber, but they may not be lost forever. When a user unsubscribes from your services, you have the opportunity to wow them with offers. 

Consider sending them content suggestions that are highly in line with their interests, which can be identified from your first-party data. This may convince them that your content is valuable enough to resubscribe. 

Alternatively, you may want to send them a special discount on the subscription cost. 

If you’re sending these offers via email, it’s worth using an actual person’s email address instead of a generic sales or marketing one. 

One publishing executive tells Digiday that “since more often publishers are landing in the promotions folder, an email coming from a different email address… is really effective in reengaging people.” 

4. Apply Your Insights to Cohorts of Users With Similar Behaviors

While a single unsubscription isn’t the end of the world, disengaged behavior patterns throughout your audience highlight inefficiencies on your platform. 

It’s important for media organizations to use their data to identify these inefficiencies and improve them by building loyal habits for audience members. Every detail you can gather on why a user unsubscribed will help you identify and stop others who may follow suit in the future. 

For instance, some individuals who unsubscribe may log into your platform less and less frequently. Keep an eye on user log-in frequency to make sure that your audience members are visiting and engaging with your content regularly. If they aren’t, it may be time to send them a personalized offer. 

The Globe and Mail, for instance, has developed a highly sophisticated five-step process that aims to keep subscribers engaged with its content based on behavioral data. If a user doesn’t log into the platform for a 30-day period, they’re sent a personalized email with relevant content. 

Take a look at your user data and ask yourself this: are your users unsubscribing because of a high subscription cost, irrelevant content or are they disengaging from the community socially? The answer will help you make improvements to your platform. 

At the end of the day, the value of data from a lost subscriber outweighs the value of the subscriber itself. This is because the insights you gain from unsubscribers can be used to greatly enhance your retention strategy.

RELATED: You Got New Engagement Tools, Now What? 

Want a Higher Reader Retention Rate? Look to Your Commenting Section

How do you get readers to stay on your site longer, read more articles and engage with your digital community?

Earlier this year, we did a deep dive into three months of anonymous, aggregate data from our media partners. The goal was to learn — and share — insights around how reader activity in comment sections has an impact on visitor retention and engagement.

In our data dive, we looked at over two billion pageviews on publisher pages in the first quarter of this year. We learned that readers who were logged into Viafoura spent over two million hours on customer domains and 565,595 hours in comment sections.  

We then compared logged-in users to those who were not in order to identify how their behavior differed. The findings:

We also looked at how audiences engage with others when logged in. In analyzing nearly 2.5 million actions on more than 430,000 comments, we discovered that people are a little nicer than you might initially think: 

Our findings illustrate that comment sections allow for civil, real-time conversations, creating a highly engaged community of authors, readers and influencers. These individuals can then turn into paying subscribers if your website is properly moderated. In other words, real-time commenting enhances audience engagement, which can build reader loyalty in your brand’s online community

Through our suite of products, our partners can access first-party data for real-time commenting behavior, content consumption habits and more. This allows our customers to measure the impact engagement has on brand loyalty, and drive meaningful business value.

Request a demo to learn how Viafoura can help your organization build an engaged community.

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