Episode Explained: Reader Retention

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Hello Episodians,

This edition of Episode Explained looks at how Reader Retention works!

Reader retention (also called reader engagement) is a measure of how well a story keeps people reading. Episode uses this measure for our own stories, to help determine contest winners and for picking stories on weekly shelves. We look at the number of people who start a story and compare that to the number of people who finish each chapter. The more people who finish each chapter, the higher your retention is. Generally, we look for stories that have high retention.

Retention allows us to objectively see how invested in a story readers are without being dependent on the total number of reads. Its measured as a percentage, where higher numbers mean more readers stay with a story longer. Here are two examples (please keep in mind these are just examples, real reader data is almost never like this):

Story 1:

Story Starts: 10,000 Readers who finished Ch Retention Score
Ch 1 5,000 50%
Ch 2 2,500 25%
Ch 3 1,250 12.5%

Story 2:

Story Starts: 500 Readers who finished Ch Retention Score
Ch 1 400 80%
Ch 2 300 60%
Ch 3 250 50%

Even though Story 1 has more reads, the overall retention is lower than Story 2 which keeps a larger percentage of its readers interested.

What level of Reader Retention do you look for?
It does vary a little bit (and has changed over time), but currently we look at retention for the first 3 chapters of a story for shelves and contests. We like stories to keep about ⅔ of readers by then end of Chapter 1, ½ by the end of Chapter 2 and about ⅓ by the end of Chapter 3.

Looking at our above examples, Story 2 has retention high enough to qualify for featuring, while Story 1, even though it has many more reads, does not.

Is there a minimum number of reads a story needs to get before Reader Retention can be calculated?
From testing we’ve learned that in order to get reliable data about reader engagement stories need to have at least 100 reads.

As an author how can I see my Reader Retention?
At this time we don’t a way to share this information with you. We have looked into building a tool that would allow authors to see their own story retention, but for the time being we don’t have the staff resources necessary to make this happen. We understand this is something the community wants, but unfortunately we just aren’t going to be able to make this happen in the foreseeable future.

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Episode Explained: Creator's Contests
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[Creator's Contest] Adventurous
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closed #2
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