As we know, the last few years have seen publishers and content businesses shift focus from raw traffic to building the deep connections and loyalty that can support a strong subscription business.
Nick Lioudis, content manager at Chartbeat, explained in this piece that they recently set out to:
“Better understand loyal reader behaviors, starting with an analysis across devices and distribution channels”
What did Chartbeat find out from their research?
Loyalty is Higher on Mobile than Desktop
The team at Chartbeat analyzed their global publisher data and found that mobile beats desktop when it comes to loyalty.
“Across the board, mobile visitors show more loyalty”
Lioudis thinks that this trend is driven by the accessibility of mobile devices, and the fact that they are a 24/7 window to the world.
We reported last week that mobile usage is up an impressive 35% since 2017, and that mobile is now well and truly our go-to device.
Desktop traffic is not going away, but it’s fixed to one location, as opposed to mobile devices which accompany us through our days.
We can see that loyalty (defined here by # repeat weekly visits), is higher on mobile across traffic sources, except when it comes to organic search traffic which is equal.
The difference in loyalty between app direct visitors and those who come through platforms is even more stark.
“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.”
We can see that direct app traffic alone accounts for significantly more repeat visits than the other channels.
When direct app traffic is taken together with push and deep link – apps as a whole drive more repeat visits (on mobile) than all the other channels combined.
Smart publishers have been putting renewed energy and focus into mobile experiences for some time now, and when looking at this data it really makes sense.
The research also showed that:
“Visitors coming to apps via deep links or direct traffic on the web do so three times more often than platform visitors”
We can also see that loyalty is roughly even when it comes to Facebook, Google search, Twitter and Chrome suggestions.
Apps are a Key Channel for Loyalty
Josh Schwartz, Chartbeat’s Chief of Product, Engineering and Data Science recently explained that:
“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”
To grow the all important loyalty that is the bedrock of a successful membership or subscription program, relationships with readers must be grown and nurtured over time.
The data we’ve looked at in this piece shows that apps are a powerful tool for achieving this.
Lioudis put it this way:
“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”
This ‘friction’ can be reduced with a well designed, high-performing mobile app. The technology is always improving though and new avenues will open up for even better mobile experiences in the coming years.
The data shows that platforms still have their place – Facebook, Google and Twitter still drive loyal readers to an extent and you should have a strong strategy on their platforms.
We also still depend on desktops, so don’t forget about readers that find you there.
The key takeaway though is:
“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”
There is no more direct path to publishers than an icon on their home screen, or native push notifications that come straight to their device.
Native apps cut out the platform and browser middlemen, and give that direct path that loyal audiences want.
If you haven’t developed your own apps yet, now is a great time to start considering it. If you already have apps, make sure that they are up to par and giving your users the best possible experience!