Audience Lifecycle - Do new users return?

Jun 24, 2014

Last month we launched our project to understand the public media audience lifecycle by using better segmentation. This month we are looking into one of those segments to gain insight into whether our new users are returning to become loyal users. The key to growing our digital audience is attracting new users to our sites.

Most of our stations have become adept at generating content that attracts new audience, but what are we doing to encourage them to return? Are these new users flybys who never return or are we creating the basis of a long-term relationship with public media? To answer these questions we looked at cohorts of new users based on the month in which they first visited.

We created 4 cohorts that we could use to understand if new users returned in the months after their initial visit. The January cohort is made up of users who had their first visit between January 1, 2014 and January 31, 2014. We also created similar segments for the months of February, March and April. Looking at these cohorts we saw that overall an average of 11% of the cohort returned in the month immediately following their initial visit.

% of new users that return for 204 station sites, Google Analytics

This likelihood to return seems to vary in relation to the type of page or activity. New users who viewed story content were least likely to return and repeat the same behavior, while new users who streamed were most likely to return and repeat that behavior. We also looked at a few content areas like playlists and program pages which drive a small amount of overall traffic, but seem to promote habitual behaviors.

% of new users that return to same activity for 204 station sites, Google Analytics

It's clear that new users who read are least likely to return, but to put this in perspective, remember that over 50% of our audience reads a story during their visit while closer to 15% is listening to a live stream. This data underscores what we've said before: Text acquires, audio converts. New users may be much more likely to be readers than streamers, but listening drives loyal users to return to visit an average of 15 times per month.  

If written content is our path to new online audience we need to focus on ways that we can encourage them to come back.  In the future we'll take a look at if we can do this better through promoting related content or by promoting what we do best: audio.  In the meantime, why not take a look at your site analytics and let us know what is working for you?