Parse.ly bites: What do your readers want?

What info genuinely shows how consumers sift through and read your content? Parse.ly says to dig deeper than site visits. / Muhammad Raufan Yusup via Unsplash

Welcome to Parse.ly Bites, a regular series created in partnership with online analytics platform Parse.ly, to help media companies to understand how to better engage and build their audiences. The first entry in the series looked at the continued importance of the homepage. Today, we’re digging into the minds of your readers.

Flipboard had a great 2017, seeing a 300% boost in views of content on its mobile app last year. That amount of success placed it on a list of five platforms that Parse.ly saw drive mobile growth that year, amongst Twitter, Instagram, and Google’s recently-rebranded Google News and Google Now.

It gave the news curation service enough confidence to start 2018 with expanded partnerships, a brand refresh and its first-ever brand campaign.

Yes, the amount of conversation around fake news has simmered to a boil many times over, but reading quality content is in. At least, on your mobile devices, it is. An analysis of Parse.ly network data revealed that over 65% of referral traffic to publisher and brand sites was “pure mobile”. Unlike desktop which peaks and valleys throughout the day, mobile is just a more accessible platform for finding and reading content.

This isn’t the demise of desktop, however. According to Parse.ly data, a dramatic drop-off occurs between 5:00 and 5:30 in each time zone as people leave the office for the day. What should customers look into when reading your content?

Size matters, but not much

Contrary to the belief system that our cultural shift from desktop perusing to mobile scrolling means publishers need to commit to one and two-minute reads, there is a genuine appetite for deep dives and long reads. Parsely data uncovered that half of all site visits lasted between one and seven minutes.

However, it’s worth sifting through your analytics for more than just site entrance, page views, and exit. Many times, those site visits only happen as misclicks, which is an easier phenomena to happen on devices where you’re mostly using your thumbs to pluck the content you want to read. Excluding those mis-clicks that force people to hit the back button, 68% of page visits last longer than 15 seconds, with 44% of viewers sticking around for at least a minute.

So a Ronan Farrow news story that gets your social following talking can be just as engaging as a minute-long announcement—but it still needs to be engaging enough to turn some of those mis-clicks to new readers of your content. So dig deeper into the stories that most resonate with your readers, find the gems, and develop a good balance of content for each.

Listen to your heart, if it’s clicking for you

Also look into where exactly refers your readers to your content. Reddit can be great for rabbit-holing yourself into new info, but is a major culprit of most mis-clicks. Google, on the other hand, is an ideal referral tool, as Parse.ly customers have a consistently higher success rate using Google or Google AMP services than using Facebook or its Instant Article offering.

The best suggestion? Think less about bounce rates.

In fact, replace them altogether with engagement rate. Like a consumer journey for marketers, readers tend to click around and see what other content they should look into. Parse.ly allows you to dive deeper than a basic analytics tool and look for heartbeats within site visits—those can reveal more than surface-level clicks and visit time, and show how long customers spent engaging, based off of the breaks between individual clicks to scroll through.

The next edition of Parse.ly Bites will return in June

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