Gini Dietrich

Content, Analytics, and You

By: Gini Dietrich | October 9, 2014 | 

Content Analytics and YouBy Gini Dietrich

We need to have a little talk about your analytics.

You see, we’re way too focused on visitors and average time spent on site and bounce rates and pageviews.

I will concede those are important metrics to track for the mere purpose of making certain everything is on track, but they are not going to tell you what you need to know.

In fact, James Ellis (aka Content Ham) says averages are lies.

Think about that for a minute and then go into panic mode.

Averages are lies.

You see, some people come to your site and spend 10 seconds or less and others hang out for a really long time.

The people on either end create the average and we focus on that number instead of on the people who hang out for a really long time.

So how do you get past the averages?

Get Past the Averages

Here I want you to figure out:

  • Where people who stay the longest come from;
  • What did they read that made them more likely to stay;
  • What content led to the most sales; and
  • What pieces of content made them stay for more.

I’ll do this for Spin Sucks for you, so you can see what I mean.

Where Did They Come From?

For the 30 days in September, we had 4,971 people who stayed for more than four minutes and 42 seconds, representing nearly 19,000 pages viewed.

They came from:

  1. Search;
  2. Direct (meaning they typed “” into their URL bar);
  3. Twitter;
  4. Facebook; and
  5. Feedly.

What Did They Read?

Of the top 10 posts for the most engaged visitors, six were mine and four were guest posts (I clearly need to work on my game!).

They were:

  1. Five Must-Have Free Visual Marketing Tools (by Jess Ostroff)
  2. Six Tips to Be More Productive and Get Things Done (by me… interestingly, this post is from May)
  3. Kiss Your Video Marketing Fears Goodbye (by Laura Petrolino)
  4. The NFL is Missing the Cardinal Rule of Crisis Management (by me)
  5. Build and Maintain Your Online Reputation (by me)
  6. Free Google Penalty Checker Tool (by Kate Finley…from July of 2013!)
  7. How to Avoid a Canva Fail (by Kara Jensen)
  8. Advice to Those Who Want to Build a PR Firm (by me)
  9. The Traits of Managers vs. Leaders (by me)
  10. Twelve Grammar Mistakes Nearly Everyone Makes (by me…from September of 2013)

What Content Led to the Most Sales?

This is a hard one for us to track because, while most of our prospects read the blog and decide to work with us because they like the way we think, it’s impossible to track which content made them pick up the phone.

Those of you, though, who sell online have a distinct advantage here.

What Content Made Them Stay for More?

We have our content categorized in five easy buckets so it’s easy to tell where someone goes after they read one blog post.

Our pieces on communications are first (which makes sense because our target is communications professionals) and then social media and entrepreneur.

So What?

To get even better data, you could do this exercise for a full 12 months. So I would do October 1, 2013-September 30, 2014.

Then you have trends on where your most engaged visitors are coming from (spend more time distributing content in that way) and what types of content are most popular (create more of that).

If I look at just the past 30 days, I can see things such as “free,” “mistakes,” “advice,” and “time management” work really well for our audience.

Now I’m better educated (using data instead of instinct) and you’re happier because we have a plan to deliver more content that you really love.

Then the goal becomes increasing those really engaged visitors from 4,971 to 10,000 or 100,000 or one million. All through content.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • I love this.

    Data doesn’t lie. Of course, interpreting data can be difficult. Just what does it mean to have a lot of page views AND a high number of uniques but a very low time on sight? How deep do you dig into referral traffic and what does that mean?

    Hmmm. What does that mean? Seems to be an underlying question.

  • Tis true! Averages are tempting because they’re easy to understand, but they’re not always as informative as we want them to be. (Actually, this came up in that article that’s going around right now about drinking – people think they’re “average” but the average can be skewed wildly by the number of people who either don’t drink at all or drink more than 80 drinks per week …)
    Super good stuff.

  • Agreed, don’t place too much weight  in terms of absolute accuracy on the “Averages”  however don’t discard them entirely either. Tracking the trend of averages (increasing or decreasing) over time could still offer you some valuable insights, (within the right context).  –  my 2 Canadian cents worth.

  • Worrying exposure in the middle of this – Arment Dietrich is a 19th century company.

    It still relies on people picking up the phone to make a sale.
    And it still thinks in terms of sales, not services to partners.
    The phone came out in 1876. And supermarkets made selling old-hat a century ago in 1916, enabling people to choose without pressure.

    Shouldn’t we be moving on from both telephones and selling, Gini?

  • Isn’t this one of the best conversations going around the PR world right now?  🙂 

    I’m a big fan of only using analytics to answer a question.  It keeps people from pulling basic stats and patting themselves on the back when some random traffic spike occurs.  I love how you couched your insights as a series of questions that produced real value for your team.  

    Pretty interesting that three of your top posts are at least five months old.  Were those mostly from search or referrals from the suggested posts bottom of the page?  (She asks very nosily…..)

  • PeterJ42 Devil’s Advocate here Supermarkets do a great job creating an illusion of choice while using multiple techniques to lead you into a certain set of purchasing decisions.  

    Also, I am sure once GIni gets tired of this whole “communications thing” and becomes a canned soup mogul, she will use the phone much, much less.  🙂

  • The average SELLS! But reality is 15-20/80-85

    I have found commonality across studies of human behavior for time spent. 15-20% of all facebook users create 80-85% of all content on that site. Same with time spent. Same with banner ad clicks. Activity on Facebook Brand pages is like 10/90. Twitter was I recall 25/80.

    I recently ran the Twitter feed for an ex client curious the number of dead or spam followers and found 52% were real and active out of 8000. So they really have a community of 4100. But of those only 10% are actively engaged. So a community of 410.
    You have to do math to get to the real numbers and the important numbers should realistically reflect your business. I think deciding the time spent (eliminate all visits under this threshold) is a great start. Now you have 4000+ prospects (clients, potential clients, peers, and competitors). 
    But you also identified the most popular content….which MAY or MAY NOT be the content that brings most conversions. Can you identify any content resulting in a click to the A-D sight or your contact info?

    I view Google analytics as mostly superficial data. Yelp actually gives demographic data on some visitors to your listing and they tell you exactly whet they did. (Age, location, called from the page, etc). If they viewed the listing and then called or clicked the maps I can put them in the likely conversion.

  • scribblinghappy

    ClayMorgan  “Data doesn’t lie. Of course, interpreting data can be difficult.”

    Quote of the day.

  • HeatherTweedy PeterJ42 You mean Gini doesn’t use “multiple techniques to lead you into a certain set of purchasing decisions”? Isn’t that what content marketing and blogs are all about?

    But I’m holding my breath for Gini’s decision – canned soup or brush sales techiques? ;0)

  • First I’m sure when you wrote this and found out one of my posts was in the top ten you cringed because you knew this blog post would suddenly be all about me. In fact I did my normal initial “blog posts scan for my name” and when I found it in such an important place I did a little squeal!!!!

    Anyway, moving on from me….Looking at analytics in this way really provides so much more value, and intelligence you can use for content development and lead generation strategies.

  • scribblinghappy ClayMorgan Agreed, as is the case with Data & LauraPetrolino, interpreting them can be difficult, however both yield rewarding insights once they are understood.

  • LauraPetrolino Oh. Brother.

  • I can’t believe I’m not in the top ten. I DEMAND A RECOUNT!!!

  • ginidietrich

    saltlab You iz smart

  • ginidietrich

    ljcrest xoxo

  • ginidietrich

    JasonFalls Thank you!

  • JasonFalls

    ginidietrich Stop producing such good content and I’ll stop. heh.

  • ginidietrich

    JasonFalls Ahhhh. You know the right thing to say.

  • ljcrest

    ginidietrich 😀

  • belllindsay Did you even write a blog post last month?

  • LauraPetrolino Truthfully, I was glad it was only one.

  • HeatherTweedy They were mostly from search. The suggested posts don’t get much traction. We actually are considering removing them and using that space for something else.

  • PeterJ42 Not true. I rarely get phone calls from prospects. I get lots of emails and tweets and direct messages. In fact, the last time I received a phone call was sometime last week and it was a sales person.

  • Digital_DRK I agree, but it’s not where you should end (it’s where most people end). It’s where you begin.

  • Eleanor Pierce MORE THAN 80 DRINKS PER WEEK?!?!

  • ClayMorgan I just did an test for one of our clients and found the data told us something differently than we assumed. It was actually really interesting.

  • ginidietrich Eleanor Pierce RIGHT?!

  • ginidietrich Mean.

  • ginidietrich belllindsay ooooohhhh snap!

  • So @ginidietrich can we expect a post titled “Mistake Free Advice on Time Management” in the near future? Great post!

  • TerryFlynn

    McMasterMCM ginidietrich & making sure that story aligns with your true analytical results. Too many great claims based on small samples.

  • Christinasofina

    AnnTran_ SpinSucks JeffSheehan loved the ‘Content, Analytics and You’ article, very informative!

  • chipgriffin

    The exercise here is useful, but I disagree with your conclusion: “Then the goal becomes increasing those really engaged visitors from 4,971 to 10,000 or 100,000 or one million.”

    That’s the approach that is feeding the traditional media death spiral. It’s not all about big numbers. It’s about the right numbers. I have run properties in the past where I made the mistake of chasing big audience numbers, but it got my approach off track. I needed to do a better job of creating and promoting content that would appeal to those who bought and used my services, rather than appealing to people just like me.

    If you get a larger audience, but it’s not translating into more clients, it’s not on track (or it’s not being leveraged properly).

    In some cases, it can actually be useful to shrink your audience as long as you are keeping the best prospects. With the focus on “time on site” as an “engagement” metric these days, people also forget that if someone spends a long time on your site, it may simply be because they couldn’t find what they were looking for or your content was so difficult to digest, that it took them a long time to get the point.

    And now I’m going to shut up because this is getting long enough it should really be a blog post, not a comment 🙂

  • This is great, Gini! Love this idea of looking at top posts based on time on site. 

    At the risk of sounding dumb, I have a question – how did you set this up? Is it through advanced segments or is there another way to set up this report in GA? I’ve looked and can’t seem to figure it out easily. Can you help a girl out before I tear my hair out trying to set this up the right way? My luck, it’s a simple fix I missed…

  • chipgriffin Gerry McGovern (whose blog is always worth reading) bemoans the  need for new content all the time ( It shows another side of the media death spiral – are we publishing stuff because we measure our worth by reader numbers, because we have to do a post every day/week/month or – heaven forbid – because we actually want to provide useful information which persuades someone?

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