Have you ever wondered how people are actually reading your articles? Which parts they pay more attention to, at which stage of the article, they have the highest chance of taking action?
The answer to those questions would certainly be of use to every marketer and blogger out there, who’d like to maximize user experience and conversion rates…
You know fact is, I already lost a good percentage of you folks, reading this article. In fact it turns out a good percentage of every blog’s readership DOESN’T reach the end of an article.
In the following paragraphs I will be sharing with you the results from a really interesting research prepared for Slate.com by Josh Schwartz - the data scientist at the traffic analysis company Chartbeat.
The results are a proof to trends that some of you HAVE noticed but also to data that you never added to your calculations. Let’s take a look:
1. How Many of Your Readers Reach the End of Your Posts
The above graph represents the patterns of readers scrolling down an article. The 0% value represents the start of the article or in other words what is seen without the reader having to scroll (above the fold) and the 120% – the call to actions after an article.
So what do we have?
The most staggering figure is certainly the first one…
Most Simply Won’t Scroll Down
It turns out that you lose a really big part of your readers right at the start of your blog posts. Even if you have the best possible introduction of the topic, people are still sure to leave.
And why does that “phenomena” occur?
There could be a lot of explanations, relating to factors like quality, grammar or even layout. The fact however is that the study Chartbeat did is based on thousands of article pages on DIFFERENT sites. In that case far more likely reasons for the high percentage of readers leaving has to do with those readers themselves.
For instance think about when you are reading an article! Do you always read sentence by sentence and word by word?
Probably no. Chances are you often times simply scan through the post and not too long after you decide it’s not your cup of tea.
But still the good thing is…
Most Will Read 60-70% of an Article
Something else that the graph shows us is that the bigger part of the visitors will actually read further and reach the portion of the post which is below the fold. Not too shabby you’d probably say.
And indeed 60% isn’t all that bad. I mean the reader has gone through half the article and is soon to reach your final words and your call to actions. But still that doesn’t quite cut it for you, does it? If you want people subscribing and taking any action you want, they have to reach the end.
And about that…
Visual Content is the Key
And finally we can see that even more viewers will reach the elusive conclusion of your blog posts. There’s just one catch though. The percentage is so high because it includes posts, containing nothing but videos and photos. Visual content is as we all know easier to digest and when there is close to no text, it’s easy to just look at the photos and scroll down until you’ve seen them all.
And what should that mean to you?
Embrace visual content. Whatever your niche you are sure to find dozens of infographics, SlideShare presentations and YouTube videos. In most cases as long as you give credit to the original author, you are free to incorporate those in your own posts. Aside from that, even if you have a lengthy 1,500 word article, readers are far more likely to reach the end if you include images and screenshots that explain what you are saying.
2. What’s the Relation Between Retweeting and Reading
Although Chartbeat doesn’t have a way of directly seeing who retweets and who doesn’t, they have created the above graph using the number of total retweets and the data from the first graph about how much of an article visitors read.
So what does the graph show us?
Unfortunately the answer is that there really isn’t much of a connection between how much retweets and article generates and what part of the article visitors actually read.
What we can see however is that there is higher concentration of retweets right in the first lines of a blog post down to 1000-2000 pixels of depth or a little below the fold in other words.
But the results aren’t all that conclusive.
- All in all you might have an article that visitors spend just a couple of minutes on and get a ton of retweets at the same time.
- You might have an article that people spend 10-12 minutes on and not receive even a portion of the retweets of a less read piece
What I’d suggest you is to include as much ways for people to share as possible. You can place social icons at the start and at the end of your posts using THIS WordPress plugin. I’d also recommend you to include a sharebar along with the fixed buttons.
3. Where Does the Most Engagement Occur
So what does this last graph indicate?
Well that’s simply a measure of how much time visitors spend on different scrolling depths.
As we can see the top of the page is the place where people don’t really do anything. Most would simply scroll down to look for the actual content. That is probably the reason why navigation menus and categories above the fold don’t attract a huge percentage of the visitors. People basically want to spend as less time as they can finding what to read on your blog.
It turns out that visitors generally spend most of their time below the fold. The fact that we see such a dark shade of red right below the fold however can once again be an indication that on average visitors read up to that point.
One takeaway from those results might be that you should reposition your sidebar widgets, putting the more important ones right around the fold rather than on the top of the page.
Additionally if you are into using a popup, you might want to do some research on how much time visitors spend on your blog on average. Based on those results you could come up with an offset time interval to allow the popup to display right at that a-little-below-the-fold place, where visitors seem to be most engaged.
All in all it turns out that nowadays most people are more likely to only scan through online content to find what they are looking for rather than read an article from beginning to end. We can also conclude that the amount of social sharing isn’t directly related to in-depth reading.
Now it’s your turn friends!
Does the data from this research correlate to your observations? Is above the fold still the name of the game? What do you do to get more people retweeting your posts?