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The Comments Section is More Valuable Than You Think

By Kristen Dunleavy

American Press Institute’s recent survey asked publishers what tactics they use to support their reader retention efforts. 

At the top of the list is pretty much exactly what you’d expect: email notifications, audience segmentation, and engaging with readers via social media.  

What didn’t make that list was far more interesting to us here at OpenWeb. The glaring omission? The Comments Section.

That’s right—hosting a comments section is perhaps the most valuable tool for boosting retention and engagement. And far too often, it’s overlooked. 

Thanks to OpenWeb’s innovative approach to Quality Conversations, supported by our multi-layered, comprehensive quality framework and our AI/Machine-learning technology developed with Google Jigsaw’s Perspective API, comments are quickly doing away with their stigma as a breeding ground for toxic trolls. 

Publishers who build a thriving, active community centered around healthy, robust conversations have a real competitive edge. 

Why? Hosting a conversation helps publishers:

  • Boost engagement
  • Grow registrations
  • Gather first-party data, and
  • Drive better retention.

With retention, engagement, and registrations top-of-mind for most publishers today, let’s take a look at some of the most important ways that comments help drive an effective retention strategy.

A comments section gives your users a powerful way to interact

With a thriving comments section, you are moving beyond the publisher:reader relationship and facilitating user:user connections. This opens up many new ways to facilitate interaction while keeping readers engaged, on-site, and returning over time.

Across the OpenWeb network, users who are active in the comments section stick around longer, spending up to 3.6x more time on-site than non-engaged users.

Through the conversation, users interact by reading comments, replying to others, interacting with polls, and more. OpenWeb’s features seamlessly automate engagement funnels that reward and leverage these interactions, inviting readers to return and interact more.

Comments helps grow a loyal fan base 

Good conversations make you, the publisher, the host of a community—and a community can be a valuable, significant part of your readers’ lives. When your audience knows they’re contributing to a greater good, and that they’re forging real human connections, they’re more likely to keep contributing and continue to attract new recruits to the conversation.

Publishers can incentivize positive behavior by using rewards—like reputation points—to encourage users to post thoughtful comments. Publishers with especially strong communities can even empower their best users to become community moderators.  

Don’t miss this: Hosting a Community founded on high-quality Comments should be a major part of your growth strategy

Retention will always be a priority for publishers looking to grow—and comments are essential for helping boost other KPIs like engagement, registrations, and time spent on-site, just to name a few. Comments are a tool simply too valuable to be overlooked. 

Read more about how OpenWeb helps publishers build thriving communities or contact us to get started.

*Participation is defined as leaving a new comment, replying to an existing comment, liking or reacting to a comment, or simply reading the comments.

Let’s have a conversation.

Right now OpenWeb has a limited number of partners we can work with in order to provide the highest quality service to each and every one. Let us know you’re interested and stay informed about how OpenWeb is empowering publishers and advertisers to change online conversations for good.