Measuring Digital Success with Web and Social Analytics

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  • 1. © Rich Gordon 2014 What Gets Measured Gets Done: Web and Social Analytics for Publishers Knight Digital Media Center – April 2014 Rich Gordon @richgor
  • 2. © Rich Gordon 2014 The problem for publishers •  Lots of metrics: What should we keep track of? •  Publishers have unique measurement needs
  • 3. © Rich Gordon 2014 What all businesses need: Key Performance Indicators Use of “Key Performance Indicators” in books 1990-2008 Source: books.google.com ‘ngram viewer’ 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008
  • 4. © Rich Gordon 2014 Propositions for today •  Every publisher should have a set of KPI’s that are tracked consistently and regularly – align to business goals (can be different for every publisher) – should be shared internally – can be factored into personnel decisions •  Make a spreadsheet, update monthly •  Compare to last month, same month last year, year over year, YTD this year vs. previous years
  • 5. © Rich Gordon 2014 •  The most popular Web metrics toolkit •  Easy to set up, free to use •  Built more for direct marketers than publishers – “acquisitions” and “conversions” •  Constantly being modified by Google
  • 6. © Rich Gordon 2014 What do publishers need to track? •  Scale: How big is our audience? •  Loyalty: How likely is our audience to come back? •  Engagement: Once on the site, how engaged is the audience with our content?
  • 7. © Rich Gordon 2014 Seven top-level metrics: Which ones matter? •  Which metrics are best for measuring audience over time? –  Size/scale –  Loyalty –  Audience engagement Audience | Overview
  • 8. © Rich Gordon 2014 User clicks on link, requests page Content server delivers page Ad requests go to ad server To understand online metrics, consider how the technology works
  • 9. © Rich Gordon 2014 Your browser assembles files, presents them to the user as a page Each server that delivers a file (HTML page, image, ad banner, Google Analytics code) can also deliver a “cookie”
  • 10. © Rich Gordon 2014 So … what’s a cookie? •  A small text file saved to your computer •  In concept: benign –  Only the site that served you the cookie can access it –  No personal information is stored in the cookie •  Cookies exist because HTTP protocol is “stateless,” and provide real utility •  They also enable the server to recognize you’re the same computer that did something previously .google.com TRUE / FALSE 2147368450 PREF ID= 3205648b2ceffdf1:TM=1001091062:LM=1001091062
  • 11. © Rich Gordon 2014 Google’s vocabulary keeps changing •  Unique Visitors è People è Users •  Visits è Sessions •  Time on Site è Visit Duration è Session Duration
  • 12. © Rich Gordon 2014 Audience vocabulary, for starters •  Users (Unique Visitors): The total number of unique persons visiting a Web site at least once in a time period (usually one month). Persons visiting the same site more than one time in the period are counted only once.
  • 13. © Rich Gordon 2014 Audience vocabulary, for starters •  Users (Unique Visitors): The total number of unique persons visiting a Web site at least once in a time period (usually one month). Persons visiting the same site more than one time in the period are counted only once. browsers visiting
  • 14. © Rich Gordon 2014 Audience vocabulary, for starters •  Users (Unique Visitors): The total number of unique persons visiting a Web site at least once in a time period (usually one month). Persons visiting the same site more than one time in the period are counted only once. •  Session (Visit): A continuous series of URL/page requests. A gap of 30 minutes between URL requests ends a session/visit. •  Pageviews: The total number of times a Web page is requested by a user. Counted only when page fully loads in browser window. •  Bounce Rate: Portion of sessions that are exactly one page view. browsers visiting
  • 15. © Rich Gordon 2014 Unique visitors vs. visits (GA: Users vs. sessions) •  Remember that what’s really being counted here is cookies •  A session (visit) happens any time the server delivers a new cookie or reads an existing cookie on the user’s computer. •  Users (unique visitors) are counted each time a cookie to a new user/computer (or a user/ computer the server believes is new) •  A new visitor is a computer/browser that has not been seen before in the selected time period (a week, a month, a year, etc.)
  • 16. © Rich Gordon 2014 Users or unique visitors: Totals are getting worse and worse •  Every browser on every device has its own cookies •  To Google Analytics, in a given month, I could be as many as 12 users: –  Chrome and Firefox on my work laptop –  Chrome and Firefox on my home laptop –  Chrome and Firefox on my iPad –  Safari and Chrome on my iPhone –  Occasionally, Safari and Chrome on my son’s Mac –  Occasionally, Chrome and Firefox on my wife’s PC –  And that doesn’t count shared classroom computers
  • 17. © Rich Gordon 2014 Questions so far?
  • 18. © Rich Gordon 2014 Among basic metrics, track … •  Size/scale: SESSIONS (visits) •  Loyalty: % RETURNING VISITORS •  Engagement: PAGES/SESSION
  • 19. © Rich Gordon 2014 Another metric for measuring loyal vs. infrequent visitors Audience | Behavior | Frequency & Recency Over 1 year: •  % of sessions by Fly-Bys (1-2 sessions) •  % of sessions by Regulars (51+ sessions)
  • 20. © Rich Gordon 2014 What about the other metrics? •  Pageviews: Easily manipulated – can reward site practices that users hate – Articles spanning multiple pages, slideshows, etc. •  Bounce Rate: More appropriate for direct marketing campaigns, but worth tracking – strive for improvement over time •  What about Average Session Duration (previously Time on Site or Visit Duration)?
  • 21. © Rich Gordon 2014 http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2008/01/ standard-metrics-revisited-time-on-page-and-time-on-site.html The problem with visit duration: How it’s calculated The last page of any visit counts as zero duration!
  • 22. © Rich Gordon 2014 Where does site traffic come from? Acquisition | Overview
  • 23. © Rich Gordon 2014 Where does site traffic come from? Search from Google, etc. Type URL or bookmark * From Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. Links from other sites Other Clicks from email clients Paid ads on Google, etc.
  • 24. © Rich Gordon 2014 Referring sessions (visits) from social media Percentage of referral sessions (and all sessions) driven by: –  Facebook –  Twitter –  Reddit –  Disqus –  LinkedIn –  Blogger –  etc. Acquisition | Social | Overview
  • 25. © Rich Gordon 2014 For social visits, also look at the “Other” category Acquisition | Overview | Channels | Other For many sites, the largest “other” referrers will be services that publishers use to distribute headlines via social media. Consider counting these as social media referrals
  • 26. © Rich Gordon 2014 Which referrals are most valuable: Pages/session by source Compare pages/ session from specific referring sites: •  Google •  Facebook •  t.co (Twitter) •  other sites Acquisition | All Referrals
  • 27. © Rich Gordon 2014 Percentage of sessions starting on home page Direct visitors (most start on home page) view: •  6x as many pages/session as Facebook visitors •  5x as many pages/session as search visitors Behavior | Site Content | Landing Pages http://www.journalism.org/2014/03/13/social-search-direct/
  • 28. © Rich Gordon 2014 Behavior | Site Content | Landing Pages Engagement: Sessions starting on home page •  Visitors arriving on the home page should view more pages and not “bounce”
  • 29. © Rich Gordon 2014 Engagement: Phone vs. tablet vs. computer •  Pages/session for mobile & tablet will likely be lower •  Mobile-friendly (“responsive”) design should reduce this difference •  Can drill down to specific devices Audience | Mobile | Overview
  • 30. © Rich Gordon 2014 Can you improve your metrics? Some ideas Goal Tactics Scale More sessions •  Increase social media activity •  Build traffic-building partnerships •  Improve SEO Loyalty More returning visitors •  Add email newsletters •  Increase social media activity Engagement More pages/session •  Better navigation •  Display links to more content (especially related content) on article pages Mobile engagement More pages/session •  Use “responsive design” approach so your site is more usable on phones/tablets
  • 31. © Rich Gordon 2014 Social media: Facebook Insights
  • 32. © Rich Gordon 2014 Useful Facebook metrics •  Growth in “likes” – month over month, vs. same month last year •  Likes per 1,000 sessions •  Total reach (people who saw your posts) – by day, week, 28-day period •  Engaged users (share, like, click, comment) – by day, week, 28-day period
  • 33. © Rich Gordon 2014 Useful Facebook metrics •  Engagement rate (formerly “Virality”): Engaged users / Total reach – By week, 28-day period •  Click rate: Post clicks per total reach – By week, 28-day period •  Share rate: Post shares per total reach – By week, 28-day period •  Comment rate: Post comments per total reach – By week, 28-day period
  • 34. © Rich Gordon 2014 Social media: Twitter •  Followers •  Growth in followers •  Followers per 1,000 sessions •  Retweets per week •  Retweets per month
  • 35. © Rich Gordon 2014 Social media: Twitter Follower : following ratio • High: Many people are listening to you – Using Twitter mostly for distribution • Low: Youre listening to many people – Using Twitter to monitor your community
  • 36. © Rich Gordon 2014 What could we learn if metrics were aggregated for many sites? •  Sites that outperform could be examined to understand what they were doing differently •  Northwestern journalism/computer science team is prototyping a benchmarking tool •  Share your metrics with us (and no one else) by filling out this survey: http://bit.ly/pbenchmark
  • 37. © Rich Gordon 2014 Thank you! richgor@northwestern.edu @richgor Help us prototype a benchmarking tool Share your metrics with Northwestern team (and no one else) by filling out this survey: http://bit.ly/pbenchmark