Inside Apple News: Grow your audience on Apple News with essential reader retention mechanisms

November 3, 2023

FlatPlan offers several ways to nurture new readers into loyal followers on Apple News. Some of them involve pulling across mechanisms you already utilise on your website into Apple News while others involve a more holistic approach by cross-pollinating content from your network. Let's start with branding.

Build brand recognition

The foundation of reader retention starts with building brand recognition to ensure new readers know who you are when your stories are surfaced alongside other leading publishers. But getting this right in Apple News isn’t always so easy as the app uses a proprietary format to display articles. Therefore, expert knowledge of the Apple News code is required to accurately match the look and feel of website articles.

Formula 1's article design in Apple News
Formula 1 uses interesting design motifs on their website as well as creative elements around their images but this was no issue for the FlatPlan design team to replicate in Apple News.

FlatPlan‘s design team has the requisite knowledge to match all elements of a website’s design for Apple News no matter how complicated or bespoke they may be. This can include the use of Read More widgets, bullet point summaries, and intricate design motifs that sit on the page or around your images. Custom fonts, colourways, icons and any other branded elements are also imported to maintain brand consistency.

Inline Follow CTA

Another simple and effective way to keep readers coming back to your content is by asking them to follow you on Apple News. Readers can follow any number of publications but FlatPlan optimises the success of this call-to-action by placing inline Follow buttons within the body of your content.

When readers follow your publication, not only will you appear in the Following section of the app for that user, but it also sends a strong signal to the Apple News algorithm. This boosts the frequency with which you will appear in personalised feeds and recirculation links around the app. You may even get a whole section dedicated to your publication in the Today Feed as shown below.

By driving reader retention, you're also strengthening your signal in the Apple News algorithm. Do enough and you'll get a whole section dedicated to your publication in the Today Feed.

Garnering Follows from Apple News readers is a staple for success on the app, but without FlatPlan’s inline Follow CTA, the growth of this metric may not be so high. Publishers who join FlatPlan, and therefore have access to this crucial reader retention tool, can get up to 40% more Follows within the first three months.

As you can imagine, this upturn in loyal readers leads to a direct increase in Article Views and Average Active Time, which further boosts your signal in the algorithm. That’s why encouraging readers to take this one simple action is so powerful; it creates a self-reciprocating cycle of growth.

Recirculation links

With the techniques above, your Apple News channel will be slick and recognisable. You’ll retain new readers you’ve reached with the inline Follow CTA. This will push up your Unique Viewers and Total Views in Apple News, which will also boost your signal in the algorithm and increase your reach further.

While all these new people are reading your articles, it’s time to expose them to all the other great content you also publish. How? With the use of recirculation links within your articles.

Recirculation links are a reliable way to keep readers on your content longer. This is particularly important on Apple News as Average Active Time is a crucial metric that determines your strength in the algorithm.

The first type of recirculation links are text-based links. These simple but effective text links appear either within the body itself or on a separate line by itself to help readers find related content and further contextual information to support the article they’re currently reading.

Read More widgets are another popular form of recirculation. On publishers’ websites, these might appear in the sidebar or at the bottom of the article. These widgets are often adorned with branding elements to make them more engaging and visible.

Both methods can easily be pulled into your Apple News channel by the FlatPlan team to help you maximise reader retention.

The Cool Down's Read More widget in Apple News
Recirculation links are an essential way to retain new readers. FlatPlan can recreate any form of recirculation you use on your website for your Apple News channel.

Promoting other content streams in Apple News

Another way is retain new readers is by exposing them to other content streams within your network. You can do this simply by adding in-article CTAs that encourage readers to subscribe, follow, download, listen or watch another piece of content produced by you.

A popular one among publishers is asking readers to subscribe to a newsletter. Not only does this allow you to capture valuable first-party data, but it help you build a closer relationship with that reader. This then gives you data to determine what kind of content your readers prefer so that you can better cater to their needs.

FlatPlan can facilitate this with the use of inline buttons similar to the ones we use to encourage Follows. These sit within the body of the content and stimulates action from readers when they’re already engaging with your content.

These methods can also be used to promote podcasts, apps, videos, social media channels and any other content from your network. This enables publishers to use Apple News to push an omnichannel content strategy where the news app can be used as a gateway to many other content streams.

Promoting other content streams on Apple News
With access to over 145 million monthly active readers, Apple News is a great platform to make new readers aware of your other content streams and funnel them towards owned environments.

By forming a direct relationship with readers that you’ve reached in Apple News, you’ll have a better chance of building a more loyal readership. They could even end up being a brand advocate for you one day.

Branded footer

FlatPlan publishers get one final touchpoint with readers when they come to the end of an article in the form of branded footers. The branded footer serves multiple purposes.

Firstly, it helps reinforce your branding and therefore builds brand recognition. If the reader is new to your publication, then it’s also an opportunity to explain who you are and why you produce the content that you do.

But perhaps more importantly, the branded footers provide real estate to convert readers. This might mean encouraging newsletter signups, website registrations, app downloads, and any other commercial strategy you might be driving can be promoted with CTAs in the footer.

This is why FlatPlan creates beautifully designed branded footers for all of our publishers as they help serve the top and bottom of the audience development funnel.

FIFA's branded footer in Apple News
Branded footers help convey the raison d'etre of your publication while also providing real estate for essential first-party data strategies.

Join leading publishers who use Apple News to reach new audiences and drive them to owned properties. Speak to the FlatPlan team to find out how Apple News can help you grow.

Next steps...

No matter what stage you're at in your discovery of Apple News, we'll help you get the information you need to make the right decision for your media business.

  1. Are you an existing Apple News publisher?
    Our expert team can audit your existing Apple News channel to ensure your integration is stable, determine how optimised your channel is, and provide recommendations that will help you make the most of your setup. Book a free audit now.
  2. Looking to integrate Apple News with your media business?
    Leading publishers use FlatPlan to grow their media business by leveraging the power of Apple News. With help from reader engagement tools, we help publishers reach new readers, nurture them into loyal followers and then funnel them to first-party data strategies on owned properties. Book a free consultation now.
  3. Still learning about Apple News?
    We're always providing insider knowledge and expert advice to our network of publishers. If you want to access that same material, head over to our Article pages, download our free Guide to Apple News eBook or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.
  4. Know someone who might find this article useful? Share it via email, LinkedIn, Twitter or any other social network you use.

More resources

Inside Apple News: Boost your signal in the Apple News algorithm with insider techniques

Gain insider knowledge on how to boost your signal in the Apple News algorithm. With these expert tips from the FlatPlan team, you can massively increase the reach of your publication.
Read more