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How to boost reader engagement – Part 2

April 22, 2011

Right, sorry for the absence folks. I’ve been flat-out for the past month moving house and then off for 2 weeks in the US for my journo-nerd tour which I’ll talk about soon enough. Still brewing a few pots of  hot ideas.

So picking up where I left off, here are some more ways to increase reader engagement on your site.

1. Comments – These can be a minefield but are well worth the effort. Having some way to interact with other readers helps create a community that will be loyal to your site, but you’ll also see an immediate boost to time spent on page (more for readers to read) and sessions per user (people keep coming back to follow the ongoing discussions in the comments). An article isn’t finished when it’s published. That’s just the first step.

2. Community submissions – Some proportion of your audience wants to get something off their chest. Let them. It’s a great way to lure new readers (the submitter’s friends) and also helps to start discussions in the comments threads.

3. Profile pages – People are giving you their hard work, why not give them a place to show it off? Letting your readers upload photos, write bios and showcase their submissions gives them something extra to do, and brings in linked traffic when they proudly steer their friends to their profile.  But it also humanises your readers to your other readers, which helps foster the sense of belonging to a community that will keep people coming back to gossip and talk.

4. Contests – People love free stuff, so if you have regular giveaways it will encourage people to check in often. Up the ante by restricting entries to one per day for a week, or drip feeding clues over a week, to get people addicted.

5. Themes – Lots of sites offer different ways to break down their information beyond the typical news website setup. One of these is themed sections or email newsletters. Pick a trending topic that’s making headlines, then aggregate the content around that topic. Your readers – the ones that are interested – get a one stop show to learn all about it.

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