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3 Must-Know User Loyalty Trends for Publishers in 2021

By Kristen Dunleavy

In a world still recovering from the pandemic, data shows that Americans have formed strong bonds with brands—many of which we turned to for the first time in 2020. This includes new loyalty to our favorite publishers.

Perhaps we didn’t need a study to know this: publishers saw an unprecedented boom in subscriptions and website traffic last year. But with the frenetic pace of news in 2020 behind us, readers aren’t flocking to their favorite sites at the same frequency, and publishers are exploring new strategies for retaining the readers they gained in 2020. 

Let’s look at a few of the top user loyalty trends for 2021—including actionable ways you can grow a loyal user base through a thriving community.

3 user loyalty trends for publishers in 2021

1. Cultivate Community

Giving your readers a place where they can connect with each other, and with journalists, has always been critical. But in 2020—amidst stay-at-home orders during a pandemic—publishers saw their communities become pivotal to how Americans digested and understood the unprecedented events.

This remains true today: cultivating a community of registered, known users should be the foundation of every publisher’s plan. An active community encourages users to return over time, and spend more time on-site as engaged, active users. 

How can you make this happen? A comments section rooted in quality—where your readers’ voices can be heard—is essential for building a thriving community of loyal readers. Find out how publishers are achieving this with OpenWebOS.

2. Gamification

There’s a reason why brands are embracing gamification: it’s a powerful way to trigger positive emotions, leading to increased attention and engagement. Today, leading publishers are investing in gamification as a way to leverage the subscription momentum they saw in 2020. 

But gamification is more than Sudoku: publishers can use rewards to build a strong community of loyal users.

How can you make this happen? OpenWebOS builds gamification into the community: users earn reputation points by posting thoughtful comments. Reputation points are visible on each user’s profile, and are a source of pride for users in the community. Even better, they drive engagement and quality as they are a powerful motivator for users to post more high quality contributions more frequently.

3. New editorial strategies

Understanding what matters to your readers is essential for continuing to grow, and publishers are exploring ways to expand their editorial coverage so they can better serve their readers. For example, based on reader demand, The Washington Post is expanding its coverage of race and identity issues, business, and international news.

Publishers with a strong understanding of user engagement and behavior trends can ensure that their content is aligned with their audience’s wants and needs. 


How can you make this happen? Registered users provide valuable first-party data, like their interests and the topics that resonate most with them. OpenWebOS helps publishers easily access and activate these insights through real-time updates. Find out how.

User loyalty is the most important currency for publishers in 2021

Most publishers understand the value of retention—but not all publishers have invested appropriately in building a community of their own. The truth is, publishers who invest in building a comments section with effective moderation to grow a robust community have a real competitive edge: they are on the path to a growing loyal base of registered users, first-party data, and a new frontier for content monetization. See how OpenWebOS can help you meet your retention goals and beyond in 2021

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