In recent years, global publishers have shifted their focus on the ties that bind loyal readers and their propensity to become subscribers. Therefore, we wanted to better understand loyal reader behaviors, starting with an analysis across devices and distribution channels. Here’s what we found.
Loyal readers no longer tethered to desktops
Believe it or not, loyalty is actually higher on mobile than desktop when we analyze our global publisher data.
Across the board, mobile visitors show more loyalty. We see the accessibility of these devices — a 24/7 window into what’s going on at any moment — driving this trend. This does not mean desktop traffic is going away, it’s just often tethered to a single place (e.g., work or home), whereas your mobile device moves with you all day long.
When looking at weekly visits by traffic sources across mobile and desktop experiences, we saw that app direct visitors are nearly 6x more loyal than platform visitors.
This finding begins to make more sense when you think about publishers’ renewed focus on mobile experiences. Particularly when you consider the fact that the overall number of visits taking place on mobile increased by more than 20%.
Where visitors are finding apps and how it impacts loyalty
Visitors coming to apps via deep links or direct traffic on the web do so three times more often than platform visitors, as we see below. That said, our research found that at this point loyalty is roughly the same when it comes to the major platforms (i.e., Facebook and Google Search).
What our channel loyal findings mean for content creators
“Subscription is an act of loyalty, and readers need some way of developing that loyalty and affinity for a publication before they’re likely to pay,” Josh Schwartz, our Chief of Product, Engineering and Data Science, recently told Nieman Lab on the topic of reader revenue and loyalty. The data we outlined in this piece suggests that publishers are increasingly aware of this journey to develop loyalty, using multiple channels (and increasingly, mobile-first experiences) to grow these relationships over time.
A few other takeaways from the research:
Shift in app experiences suggests new paths to loyalty
The data suggests that loyal readers want a direct path to publishers — a huge indicator that there’s value in improving app and direct to mobile experiences. That being said, friction along the mobile journey poses a massive hurdle in getting even loyal readers to move closer to subscription.
Platforms still have a prominent role in loyal readership
Yes, we’re seeing an interesting shift in visitor patterns that favor direct visits to apps. Yet, loyal readers are still coming from Google or Facebook. Our recent research shows that there’s still a case to keep your platform presence top of mind.
Movement matters when it comes to device-based loyalty
Loyalty among mobile visitors is growing rapidly. This finding makes sense when you think about today’s mobile-first readers. Don’t go abandoning your investments in desktop, especially since we still depend on this experience every day.
Overall, we see that loyalty among mobile visitors is growing rapidly, which makes more sense as we think about today’s mobile-first readers. Moreover, it points to an important shift in audience behavior — loyal readers want a direct path to publishers. This tells us there’s still a massive opportunity to improve app and direct to mobile experiences.