4 Ways to Keep Digital Readers Engaged

We share the biggest gains you can make to keep your readers interested and coming back for more of your high quality, responsive content.

Liam Handford

Liam Handford

November 7th, 2019 | Reading Time: 5 mins
  1. Images Images Images
  2. Introduce
    1. Add Context
    2. Information Visualisation
    3. Calls To Action
  3. Give The Reader Space
  4. Get To The Point
  5. Summarise

We’ve all had the situation where we write about an engaging and current topic we know our audience will love, but see readers dropping off before even getting past the fold.

With print, holding a users attention is far easier, because by simply having the publication in their hand they’ve already made a bigger commitment to read than if they clicked or tapped into one.  Digital requires we work that little bit harder, by making it stand out and be digestible on any device.

In this post we share the biggest gains you can make to maximise engagement and keep readers coming back for more of your high quality, responsive content.

Images Images Images

Not only do Images help make your content look more visually appealing, but it’s usually the first thing a reader will notice. Humans are visual creatures.

We’re naturally drawn to images, especially those with bright or contrasting colours (or contrasting images like a before and after, often used by fitness magazines), so it’s best to try and use images not just as filler – but to inform the reader of what to expect or enhance the content.

There are 4 main uses of images in digital content and it’s important to consider them when creating images as well as placing:


Let a reader know what’s to come, at a very quick glance they should be able to determine the focus of that section of content..

The best images to use are appealing images relevant to the topic or simple illustrations – much like a typical banner image:

Introduction Example – Image by MeisterMedia.com

Add Context

A way to visually draw in a reader to the content around it, which can be anything from relevant stock images or a device mockup. An example of this technique can be seen on our comprehensive blog post on Apple News+, where we reference different publishers’ News+ channels with images.

Using strong images helps break up the text to make it feel more readable, but the interest generated by images shouldn’t be ignored, sometimes content just needs the added flair.

Information Visualisation

People on average remember visual information 55% better than written – it’s why some information is far better conveyed with an image. Infographics are one of the most shared forms of content today for this very reason – a large amount of information can be conveyed quickly, and the human brain recalls images much better than plain text.

Section of an infographic relaying lots of information quickly

If you can easily convey a message in an image that would otherwise take paragraphs of text, always use the image. Try Infogram for responsive and animated graphs or charts (fully supported by Canvasflow’s editor).

Call To Action

The best CTA’s have bold colours and a clear message

When you need to drive a reader to take action, use bold colours whether it’s a vector button or a full image with text overlayed. The key is to grab a readers attention, while also making the action you want them to take as clear as possible.

Campaign Monitor offer a great run down of 10 Tips to Improve Calls to Action.

We’ve also posted a great blog on how to Optimise Images.

Give    The    Reader    Space

In the world of print, writers and designers were for a long time scared of white space, white space was wasted space that if used could free up more room for ads.

With digital, we no longer have that problem, we have an infinite amount of room for a potentially infinite amount of content.

Digital readers are constantly scrolling.  Adding white space – using shorter paragraphs and more line breaks – help readers track their progress and prevent them from becoming daunted by a long block of text.

Content becomes much tidier and contained in digestible chunks, each space is a chance for a reader to take a mental breath.

If all of this text were part of a singular paragraph, would it have been as easy to read? Try to stick to focus on a single point at a time, and find the balance between informative and scannable.

• Get To The Point

Much like using images to convey information in a more digestible way, if you can condense down lengthy content with bullet points that convey the same message, why wouldn’t you?

Take this list of bullet points:

  • People share infographics 3x more than any other form of content
  • Visual instructions are followed 323% better than written instructions
  • 4x more people would rather watch a video review than read a review
  • An eye-tracking study has shown images that are purely ‘decorative’ or unrelated to the content are almost entirely ignored

All of these statistics are pretty hard-hitting, but to squeeze all of these points of interest into long-form text content would just create a lot more work for the reader, and wouldn’t necessarily provide a proportionate amount of extra value.

Listicle content such as “Top 5 Reasons To Use a VPN” is popular because a reader is instantly aware they can dig straight into the meat of the topic.

Bullet points can be used to make sure the reader sees the most important parts of the message in a short space of time and is hopefully convinced to carry on down the page.


Though not applicable for content meant to entertain, adding a quick summary at the end can add value, especially if a ‘Contents’ is included at the beginning.

Most digital readers are short on time, if they want to skip straight to the high level bullet summary, let them!

Taking my own advice, remember:

  • Use striking, high quality images
  • Consider the purpose and placement of an image, avoid stock images with little relevance
  • Don’t be afraid of white space and short paragraphs, break up text wherever possible
  • Be direct, for most digital readers to stay engaged they need to be finding constant value as they scroll
  • Bullet points and lists are attention grabbers and can convey a lot of information quickly
  • Summarise informative content at the end

Go with TheFlow, stay in the know

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter TheFlow and stay up to date with everything Canvasflow