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Strategic insights
How Do You Define Reader Loyalty?




Written by on December 19, 2016

Loyalty is an increasingly important metric for many publishers. The reason being that most publishers are realizing that ad exposure with low-intent social traffic is a terrible form of revenue. The race to zero is brutal, and the thing we call engagement isn't actually the same as economic success.

On top of this, we often hear how publishers are struggling to generate revenue, even when they are doing well on the social sites. Just this month, one of the largest Danish newspapers on Facebook went bankrupt, despite them doing well with social engagement.

As they said:

Marie Milling says that the secret of the site's relative traffic success was a strong understanding of the use of social media.

We brought something new to the field in relation to social media, I think we can be proud of the employee group. We cracked the code for how to use Facebook and social media in general. Many people think it is dangerous that you give the readers what they ask for, but we have some of the best in the country at what they do. It is a shame that we probably will be scattered to the winds."

This is a common narrative these days. We hear so many stories about publishers doing amazing things to get more traffic, but because the traffic is essentially valueless (low-intent, low-loyalty, random, non-targeted) it often doesn't create economic success.

More to the point, when they say they cracked the code for how to use Facebook, they didn't really do that at all, nor are they the 'best in the country'. It's like a shoe brand saying they cracked the code for making shoes because they gave all the shoes away for free.

So publishers are finally starting to learn that free traffic is simple, and something anyone can do. But cracking the code is about figuring out how to turn this into an actual business. If you haven't done that, you haven't cracked the code at all.

The result of this is that more and more publishers are starting to question this whole definition of engagement and starting to ask how we can make this work.

What they quickly realize is that the key to economic success is to create value. Either in the form of value given directly to the audience (which drives subscriptions and other direct monetization forms), or by connecting the value of the publication with the value of the brands. In other words, a more specific, targeted, and valuable form of advertising than just random exposure to random people.

But to achieve both, you need more than just low-intent traffic. You need to link that value to some form of loyalty. But how do we define that?

What is loyalty anyway?

One of the first problems that we have with measuring loyalty is that it isn't actually a number. Loyalty is instead more of a feeling that people have when everything else comes together.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.


Check out my book: THE SHIFT - from print to digital and beyond? Free for Baekdal Plus subscribers, $8.79 on Amazon.

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