6 Surefire Ways Media Businesses Can Increase Online Engagement

Liam Burns
Written by Liam Burns
November 16, 2020

There was a time when publishers only needed to produce quality content to set themselves apart from the competition. Conversely, in today’s digital world, captivating users via highly engaging digital experiences is paramount.

Thousands of publishers – from individuals to businesses or media groups – post useful information across the web. So how does a company set themselves apart to attract new subscribers and retain current members?

When it comes to maintaining an online presence, customer experience (CX) is everything. Content should be easy to access, flexibly formatted for a variety of screen sizes, and offer a variety of ways for your audience to interact and consume – user experience fundamentals for increasing online engagement.

And with companies that focused on engagement increasing revenue by 22%, prioritizing audience engagement has undoubtedly become a foundational moving forward.

As digital media businesses continue to evolve with the demands of modern users, the 6 tips below can help drive online engagements up to keep your organization front and center.

1. Learn about your audience base

To create content and provide engagement opportunities that best meet your audience’s needs and interests, you must first understand who you’re trying to reach.

Use web analytics to determine your audience’s demographics and digital experience analytics – like Decibel – to analyze user behaviors. You can learn who is coming to your site, what they’re looking for there, and how they interact online. This information will help you tailor your content to ensure you’re providing quality information that they will find meaningful.

Once you’ve determined your target audience, you can begin to build a strategy for engagement. Is your audience made of social media users? Do they respond well to email? Are they interested in local events? There are several ways to keep people attuned to your information.

Knowing your users’ backgrounds, preferences, and habits can help you determine which tactics will be most effective to engage them in the future.

2. Establish an online community

Online readers want to find like-minded people who share the same values and passion for important issues. Create a safe, trustworthy community where your audience can make meaningful connections. Encourage them to have valuable discussions and constructive debates about newsworthy topics.

Develop a space that serves as a community portal. Act as a primary resource for local news. Create a local classifieds section, or post a job board. Find ways to bring your readers together while providing a digital space where they want to hang out.

Consider offering a website membership. While subscriptions feel like a purchase, a membership fosters a sense of community and belonging. When people feel included in a friendly environment of like-minded people, they’re more likely to leave comments on articles and share information with their contacts.

3. Promote interactive relationships

Some readers are outspoken and eager to share their views, while others are more comfortable quietly forwarding online articles.

Either way, publishers should provide a variety of opportunities for people at different engagement levels to interact. These opportunities serve as access points to the online community you’ve created.

Allow readers to comment on articles. Encourage open discussions and forums. Provide contact information for your writers so they can be more active in conversations about the content they create. Coordinate a meet-up or create a special online happy hour for subscribers to visit face-to-face with your staff.

By developing these relationships, readers feel valued, which leads to increased engagement and loyalty. Meanwhile, journalists receive feedback on their assignments and can be in touch with what is important to their viewers.

4. Encourage audience contributions

A key way for publishers to increase audience engagement is to invite readers to play an active role in posted material.

Create invitations and submission forms on your site for readers to share their expertise. Encourage readers to contribute guest posts about subjects they are passionate about and know well.

Including readers in the creation of content builds trust and loyalty. Not only will audience members engage with their content, but they’ll check in to read information from peers in their online community. Members will be more likely to share their articles and content written by trusted members of their community with their contact. This expands reach and increases engagement.

As a bonus, guest writers also alleviate the need for paying journalists to create so much digital content. By relying on readers to contribute articles, your paid writers can focus on other pressing assignments that can develop engagement in other areas.

5. Strengthen your social media presence

Recent studies show that more than half of U.S. adults get their news from social media.

Sites like Facebook and Twitter have a huge following and must be included in your digital experience strategy if you want to increase audience engagement. Social media makes sharing information simple and is an easy way to increase readership exponentially. When you reach one viewer, they can easily forward your article to their contacts, and the reach continues.

On average, 60% of American adults check social media ten times a day. Because of this, you can post at various times throughout the day and reach the same people with new information. Hold contests that encourage readers to share photos, like your posts, or forward your articles. Offer small prizes to entice participation. All of this helps increase audience engagement.

6. Keep readers on your website

Social media is great for promotions and serving as an additional source for engagement. However, it’s best to keep the attention of your audience on your website when possible. Create native news and content feeds, promote site contributors to grow followings, offer personalized recommendations and suggested content – all major attractions for longer user sessions.

By keeping those users engaged for longer, you’ll inevitably increase the likelihood of conversion. They’re more likely to read other articles on your site from writers they like and then explore other pages and offerings you’ve posted. They’ll interact with additional features on your site. All of this can help generate sales, boost your ROI, and assist with search engine optimization.

Leverage behavior-based benchmarks to keep users engaged online

As the scale and complexity of online engagement grows between channels, devices, and platforms, media business will constantly face the challenge of keeping attention online. But those who understand user engagement patterns will stand a better chance.

Media groups and businesses must strive to discern trends in user engagement to determine methods and strategies capable of growing and retaining an audience base heading into a digitally dominant future.

For unparalleled insights into the media and publishing industry’s user engagement trends, behaviors, and obstacles, download the report: Digital Experience & Conversion: Industry Benchmarks for 2021.

Topics: Conversion Optimization, Digital Experience, Engagement, User experience
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