Clicking Through: Consumer Click on Related Links More than Social Shares
For some time now, publishers have been directing readers to “read more” or click through to similar articles they may like. But does it really work? Are readers curious to learn more about related topics? According to the results of a new study, yes.

nRelate, a content discovery platform, released the results of its Behavior Shift: Getting Content in Front of Consumers study, which aimed to uncover the ways in which consumers discover and navigate the Internet’s fire hose of content.

Not only does the study reveals that a majority of consumers (76 percent) click on related links at the bottom of articles for more information, but that next to search results, these related links are consumers’ preferred method of discovering information online. Did you hear that? These links are more popular than links recommended by friends on social networks.

The study also reinforces central components of successful content creation and publishing (i.e content marketing), including:

Make Discovery Easy and Contextual

Content is in high demand. The study showed that ninety-two percent of adults read content online, spending more than seven hours per week looking for content. Additionally, consumers read three to four articles per session and watch two to three videos per session. If your readers are hungry for content, and there isn’t enough to satiate their curiosity, they will go elsewhere to find it -- even if it’s in their inbox. More than half (51 percent) of consumers say they read and click on content pushed to them via email newsletters from brands they trust.

Quality is the Key to Clicking

According to the study, a number of factors influence a consumer’s decision to click. Most consumers (62 percent) said they were drawn to traditional news links versus images, videos or blog posts that are related. When finished with an article, more users noted they were likely to click on a link to another article (34 percent), than to a video (15 percent) -- yet 39 percent indicated they are more likely to click on an article if there is an image associated with it. Just as with social media posts and shares, images are a driving force in stimulating curiosity.

Of course, subject matter plays a role. Local news, national news, entertainment and sports improved the likelihood of a reader clicking through to related or suggested content, as did the quality of the source. Readers are savvy enough to expect viable links to fulfill some basic requirements, like:

  • From a source already known in the offline world (60 percent)
  • Includes images (24 percent)
  • Includes author image and byline (23 percent)
  • Includes embedded video (11 percent)

Reading is Fundamental (Social Isn't)

The study found that recommended links shared across social media aren’t enough to pique one’s interest. Instead, users are most likely to click on search results (48 percent), or links at the bottom of the article they’ve just read (28 percent) as opposed to links found on Facebook (8 percent).

And for those who think that Facebook can replace your website -- listen up! When it comes to purchase decisions, the study found that consumers say they trust content from a brand or manufacturer’s website (44 percent), an article discovered through a search engine (31 percent), an expert on the product (28 percent), or a mainstream news site (20 percent) more than they do content posted by a friend on a social network (10 percent).

What Does this Mean for the Future of Content?

The future is bright for content, provided publishers and other content creators are creating enough high quality, relevant and trusted content that is readily available. In fact, it’s worth noting that in marketing survey after marketing survey, marketers have indicated that among their biggest challenges is content creation. And with good reason. This study shows that readers are curious to read more and can be easily influenced to click through to related articles. It isn’t nearly enough to share content; it needs to be delivered to them in a way that invites instant action.