• Bryan Hall

Daily Herald sees immediate jump in engagement from new TownNews-integrated in-article survey tools

Daily Herald sees immediate jump in engagement from new TownNews-integrated in-article survey tools from World Table.

Surveys are almost a guaranteed boost to any online engagement campaign. People like to take them and they love to see the results.

“Having at least one survey a week was important to help us gage our communities’ interest and our connectivity,” former Provo Daily Herald publisher Bob Williams said. “We’d get together every Wednesday as a team and choose a general survey for the next week.”

Williams wanted to find a way to add more surveys to the Daily Herald on specific issues without inundating their online readers.

Game changing moment

“Bob wanted to solve the problem before he retired,” recalls Rhett Long, the current publisher at Daily Herald and Ogden Standard Examiner. “We discussed a lot of different options but nothing really stuck until we met with the folks at World Table.”

World Table CEO, Bryan Hall, proposed a new approach: “What if instead of offering one survey for the whole site, or even one per section, we developed a way to let your authors offer their own surveys right in their articles?”

The publishers were immediately intrigued. “It was an ah-ha moment,” Long said. “Bob and I looked at each other and said ‘Now that’s interesting!”

Would it work?

Three questions were at the forefront of the new in-article surveys solution:

  1. Would it even be adopted by the authors/editors?

  2. Would it add value to the content or would it detract from it?

  3. Would it increase engagement or just use up valuable real estate?

Getting the authors to adopt it


“We first had to make sure it worked seamlessly with TownNews’ BLOX CMS because so many local media sites are using it now and their authors are used to those solutions being easy and familiar to their natural writing process,” said Hall. “We had worked very hard to make our engagement suite completely compatible with the BLOX CMS as part of our collaboration with TownNews, so we knew anything new had to meet the same rigorous standards.”

“Not only are the surveys easy to use for readers, it’s extremely intuitive for editors,” Executive Editor at Daily Herald and Ogden Standard Examiner Jordan Carol said. “It makes sense to ask questions about a specific topic right there in the article itself. It enhances the work of the reporter and reader discussion.”

Would surveys within the articles add or detract from the content?

Adding the surveys into the articles solved Williams’ desire to add more surveys and removed his concerns about over-saturating the site. “They don’t feel out of place or forced in anyway,” Williams said. “And because they are about the article, the responses become incredibly valuable extensions of the content itself. It’s a perfect solution.”

Daily Herald Online Editor Stacy Johnson said she agrees.

“We also see that the in-article surveys give our readers an opportunity to interact with our content, and feel a connection with the author and content in a civil way.” Johnson said. “Their responses become content as well. This connection gives our readers a reason to return to our website for additional content.”

The in-article surveys are designed to invite people to explain why they voted a certain way in order to help keep the conversations on topic and relevant.

“Keeping things on topic makes for a much better commenting experience in general. But it’s also great for our brand,” Johnson said. “The follow up questions are a very natural conversation starter and people seem to respond accordingly.”

NOTE: The system allows for comments to be selectively enabled/disabled on surveys as needed.

Would the new approach increase engagement or just use up valuable real estate?

Online comments per article when surveys are added.

World Table’s Engagement Suite allows publishers to track the different ways the readers respond to their author’s actions.

“Immediately we saw a jump in the levels of engagement on the articles we added surveys to,” Johnson said. “We knew something had changed.”

On average, Daily Herald saw 15x the amount of comments on articles where a survey was added. That’s a 1500% increase.

“That’s a lot more commenting going on,” says Rhett. “But when you really look at the data, there’s a lot more of everything going on when we add surveys to the articles.”

Engagement increases across the board

Audience Actions per page when surveys are added.

On pages where a survey was included, Daily Herald saw a significant increase in all types of interactions – not just comments and not just because of the survey responses themselves. Everything including article ratings, kudos given (think up-votes or likes), comment views, and signups, all went up.

For example, in 2018, Daily Herald audience interactions with the content go from 0.91 actions per article to a whopping 64.45. That’s 71 times more interactions when a survey is present.

Bob noted the difference between survey responses and all the additional interactions (clicks, ratings, comments, etc.). “What this tells us is that the surveys generate a lot more engagement than just the initial responses to them.”

More engagement yields more signups

Signups per page when a survey is added to the article.

Because World Table’s Engagement Suite allows publishers to track the different ways readers respond to their authors’ actions, the system is able to help publishers see which engagement efforts are best for their community.

Bob thinks perhaps the most beneficial result is the increase seen in new signups. “We found the surveys to be a great entry point for new users signing up and engaging for the first time with the paper,” he said. “It’s nearly one new signup per survey we put out there.”

In fact, through 2018, The Daily Herald saw an average of 0.9 signups per page when a survey was present compared with 0.12 signups per page for pages with no survey.

Signups in this case refer to users creating a World Table account to comment with (usually a one click process or an email). While it’s not yet a full paying account on the paper, as part of its policy, World Table hands all the contact information over to the papers to help them grow their email lists.

Where do we go from here?

As media sites look for better ways to engage their audience members, the online in-article surveys have shown to be a powerful catalyst for immediately driving engagement. The ability for authors and editors to quickly gather relevant feedback from their readers within the very content they are producing, and give their community a voice at the same time, could have a significant impact on the industry going forward.

The in-article survey tools are part of the World Table Engagement Suite and are fully integrated with TownNews’ BLOX CMS.

Inquiries can be made at staff@worldtable.co.

World Table has a complete suite of audience engagement tools, including one of the best and easiest to use online commenting systems. All our tools are fully integrated with TownNews’ BLOX CMS, and install in a matter of minutes.

For help with other systems contact support@worldtable.co.