When a user is engaging with your content, as opposed to just consuming it, it helps promote your site on Google’s rankings, increase brand awareness, create more authentic distribution channels through shares, and increase the session yield and ROI. For many publishers increasing user engagement seems like an insurmountable task but the truth is that small, incremental changes can be made that drive a significant result.
Minute Media has years of experience designing sites to maximize user experience and we have utilized this knowledge while building our publishing platform to make it easier for you to achieve similar success.
Understanding Your Audience
‘Measure, measure, measure’ became the motto of our era. By utilizing the right data, publishers can better understand the actions of their audiences, allowing them to initiate better practices for increasing engagement. To help with this, we established a three-step process:
- Define a persona for your website and create assumptions about this persona's basic use cases
- Add analytics events that will cover those use cases on your website, or in the relevant environment
- Validate your assumptions by checking your site’s data
For example, we assumed that users who scrolled to 75% depth of the page were more likely to use one of our engagement widgets. To test this, we had one analytic event in place for a scroll depth of 75% and a second event for clicking on the widget. After creating these events, we were then able to validate our assumption by comparing our predictions to the results shown by Minute Media’s real-time analytics dashboards. Seeing that our predictions were correct, we can now focus on experiences and actions that will prompt users to reach the 75% depth. These actions may include eliminating obstacles like display ads or email subscriptions from earlier stages of the article, or the creation of “incentives” for users that are scrolling to this depth.
To assist our partners, Minute Media’s platform allows users to dig deep into their audiences' habits, providing them with the relevant information to make slight changes that will result in a significant rise in user engagement.
Segmenting Your Users
After validating your use cases with your site’s data, you can then utilize them to split your users into segments. These segments can be created on your analytics vendor, your ad server, or as part of your code. Grouping your users into segments can be useful because it allows you to provide a slightly more personalized experience to like-minded individuals.
The hard part, in this case, is to keep yourself neutral in your decision-making process and approve only the most valuable use cases over the cases that you have a “good feeling” about. When you do a proper user segmentation, you can create an experience that will be more custom to your users, which will likely lead to better engagement.
Using the prior example, users who scrolled to a 75% page depth and engaged with a predetermined widget were segmented into one group, and users who scrolled to the same depth but didn’t interact with the widget were placed in a second group. Using this split of users, we chose to generate the same widget for group one, while group two was provided a different experience when they came back to the site. This small change between groups increases the likelihood of a user engaging with our site by providing them with something they already enjoyed in the past.
Make it Fun! (Add Widgets)
In some cases, users are just looking for entertaining content when they enter your website. The good news is that you can easily convert them to be a part of your loyal user base by simply adding some engaging experiences like quizzes, polls, stats, and funny articles. Our data shows these little additions can create a more than 10% click-through rate and increase the time spent on page by 100% or more. Not only is it easy to add these features, but Minute Media can provide you with numerous different widgets that can instantly increase your user engagement.
By adding these experiences to your website, you can capture the active users and set a specific section for them, allowing you to create a more relevant experience. Examples may include competitions, tables, or subscriptions, and the tech has the ability to continue to generate the same experience for the user on their next visit to maximize engagement.
Promote Quality and Long-Form Content
Here at Minute Media, we like to say ‘Content is King’. We can see the power of quality, long-form content in all verticals - sport, entertainment, etc. It may be a detailed editorial piece, an interview with an athlete, coverage of a research topic, or any other long-form content that provides a real value to the consumer.
Using previous internal testing, we know that users are likely to spend 40%-200% more time on pages that feature a quality article of 1,000 words or more. More interestingly, we found that users are 14% more likely to create another interaction with the site on those article’s pages. Long-form content is a golden opportunity for publishers to tinker with their user experience strategy and try to maximize engagement because of the intrinsically longer session time.
Test, Test, and Test Again
You own your site, therefore you can use the real estate however you see fit. Don't be afraid to change, test, and even make mistakes. Performing A/B tests, playing with the aggressiveness of ads, changing headlines, diversifying traffic sources, adjusting site layouts, or using different types of templates are all interesting experiments you can do in an attempt to boost user engagement. It is important to make sure you are measuring those changes and defining the KPIs of each change upfront.
In our own experience, one test that we found effective was reducing the number of display ads for users that reached the second page. This small change ended up increasing the consumption of the third page by 14% and increased the total amount of ad delivery.
Keep Moving Forward
Engagement is crucial for publishers and there is no single way to do it correctly, so don't be afraid to use the methods mentioned above or execute other fresh ideas. Whatever you choose to do, make sure to keep testing your changes, and regardless of failure or success, keep moving forward. As Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, "The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving".
We as publishers should always keep moving forward to improve our site’s user engagement, be aware of the changes in the industry, and keep our domains fresh and attractive. Don’t hesitate to change, test, and keep moving forward.