Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
3 mins read

Recirculation: How it can have a major impact on both traffic growth and revenue for publishers

How does Recirculation vary by site category, device, and loyalty? Our data on the essential engagement metric

Recirculation is a real-time analytics metric that compares the number of people on a given page to the number of people who have continued their journey from that article to another one on the same site. In other words, it’s the percentage of readers that make it past the first article of their visit.

While some readers will naturally engage with multiple articles per visit, most need extra help getting deeper into a site. In fact, across the Chartbeat network, 89% of readers will leave a site after engaging with just one article. While that might be a discouraging figure at first glance, it’s also a testament to the importance of Recirculation in your engagement strategy. 

As always, it’s helpful to dissect the network-wide data to see how trends change when we break down the data by considerations like site category, device type, and loyalty. Here’s what that analysis tells us.

Recirculation by site category

When we analyze the data by site category, we find that general news sites typically see much lower Recirculation than sites that have a smaller scope like sports and finance. This isn’t surprising as readers are more likely to visit news sites for discrete events like breaking news and spend more time on niche sites when they’re interested in going deeper on a particular topic. 

In the period between May and September 2022, Arts & Entertainment had the lowest Recirculation rate at 9.8%, and Finance saw the most at 16.8%. Sports and News & Media were in the middle at 12.8% and 11%, respectively.

Recirculation by device

Device experience also has a significant impact on Recirculation. For example, though Mobile pageviews make up the largest proportion of traffic in our network, those readers have the lowest Recirculation rate at 9%. Desktop, though a less popular source of traffic, is a much more effective Recirculation medium as it more than doubles the Mobile Recirculation rate at 19%. Although Tablets account for only a tiny fraction of total traffic, this device actually has the highest Recirculation rate at 21%. 

Recirculation by loyalty

When we examine Recirculation by visitor type, we find that the more loyal a reader is to a given site, the more content they will consume per visit. Because of this trend, moving readers down the loyalty funnel can have a major impact on both traffic growth and revenue.

Recirculation by Loyalty

Loyal visitors, or readers who visit a site every other day, unsurprisingly have the highest Recirculation rate at 16.6%. Returning visitors, or those who have visited a site more than once per month, but not enough to be considered Loyal, recirculate at 14.1%. New visitors recirculate the least at 9.1%.

Encouraging readers to discover more content

The more time that readers spend engaging with a site’s content, the more likely they are to return to the site in the future, and an essential piece of engagement is Recirculation. As our research shows, sites with a narrower focus have an easier time convincing readers to consume more content than those that cover general news, but all publishers can take steps to improve Recirculation regardless of their content focus. Here are a few strategies we recommend.

Show off your depth and quality. Related links — placed at strategic points in your content — are an effective way to encourage deeper visits and offer readers an alternative to exiting your site. 

Tailor your strategy. Powering related content widgets on your site with engagement, referrer, and audience segment data can customize the reader journey for each visitor and make it more likely they go deeper than their first article.

Meet readers where they are. Mobile layouts can make it difficult for audiences to move on to new content as easily as they do on Desktop or Tablet. Whenever possible, make sure the mobile experience is responsive and intuitive.

The days of ambiguous links are over. Cryptic and confusing links prevent readers from clicking with confidence. Be clear about where readers are going and the value they’ll get from spending more time with your content.

by Jack Neary

Originally published on the Chartbeat Blog and republished with permission.