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Gini Dietrich

Three Data Points to Measure Your Blog Efforts

By: Gini Dietrich | May 28, 2013 | 
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Three Data Points to Measure Your Blog EffortsA few months ago, I decided to spend some time inside the Spin Sucks analytics to see if we could track and measure our blog efforts, other than the typical visitor and unique visitor increases.

What I found was something surprising. Not only can we track the normal stats, we can also pay attention to how engaged the readers are (even if they don’t comment), whether or not they’re big readers, and increases in subscribers (hi Feedblitz!).

The way to track those things are to set up goals in your analytics by time spent on site, pages visited by engaged users (in other words, not everyone, which is what Google gives you automatically), and a destination URL for your RSS and email feed.

Measure Your Blog Efforts

Are you thoroughly confused?! Don’t worry! I’m going to show you how to do it.

First, open Google analytics and make sure you have administrative rights or you won’t be able to do this.

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Then change the date to January 1 through the date you’re doing this. I used January 1-May 20.

Jot down the average visit duration (ours is 1:46) and pages per visit (ours is 2.37).

Now click on the bright orange “admin” tab in the right-hand corner. Click on the website name, which comes up under profile automatically. Then click on “goals,” which is the third tab in the next screen.

Engaged Users

Now you’re going to click “create a goal” and name the first one “engaged users.” Then click “duration” and click “next step.”

You want the duration to be greater than the average time spent – in our case it would be greater than 1:46 – then click “on” for value and add $1 (this will just give you a baseline).

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Then click “save goal” and it will begin tracking for you.

What you’re tracking is the number of people who visit your website or blog every day that spend more time with your content than the average person. It’ll take a few weeks for it to begin giving you data, but we now know about 10 percent of our visitors are highly engaged.

We can talk later about what that means and how to create specific content for those people.

Reader

Next you’ll set up a goal to track the number of visitors who review more pages than the average person.

Click “create a goal” again and name this goal “reader.” Then click “pages/screens per visit” and click “next step.”

On this page, you want your goal to be greater than the average so, in our case, we’d say greater than 2.37, but it only lets you add round numbers so we did two here. We add $1 in the value and click “create goal.”

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This tells you how many of your engaged readers are going to multiple pages. This is pretty important if you have a website that drives people through a decision-making funnel of content.

For instance, we have a client whose end goal is to get someone to request a quote. The funnel we push visitors through gets them to that page and, with this Reader goal, we can track who is abandoning the process before we want them to do that.

Subscriptions

The last goal we recommend is tracking how many people are subscribing to your content via email and/or your RSS feed through the site.

Of course, you can get these stats in your Feedblitz account, but why not have it set up in Google analytics so you have it all in one spot?

Click “create a goal” again and name this goal “subscriptions.” Then click “destination” and click “next step.”

In the destination box, paste your Feedblitz feed URL (without the http://www.), add $1 for the value, and keep the funnel turned off. Create the goal and voila!

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Of course, a destination goal could be set up for nearly any URL on your site: A request-a-quote, a download, a subscription, a purchase, a shopping cart, or more. Once you’ve gone through the process, it’s pretty easy to see what others you can set up and track.

Once everything is set up, you’ll access the data by going back into your analytics and clicking “conversions” in the left-hand sidebar, “goals,” and then “overview.” All of the information is tracked there and you can view all goals together or by themselves.

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Give it a week or so (it’ll happen as quickly as a day, but you want to have a few days of tracking) and come back to see what it tells you.

It’s pretty exciting and soon you’ll have smarter data that will help you make decisions specifically for your visitors and not what some blogger told you to do.

For all you PR people who say you’re not good at math? This is the data, analytics, and math you should be tracking and analyzing to measure your blog efforts. Way more fun than calculus, right?

A version of this first appeared on the Feedblitz blog.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

71 comments
glonigro
glonigro

Finally had a few moments to set this up for my blog. I'm geeking out a little bit because it was fun to do—I'm not saying that's always the case with numbers, but there's something about Google Analytics data that is fun. Curious to see what information this yields. Thanks for the helpful how-to, @ginidietrich 

MrTonyDowling
MrTonyDowling

great blog, and practical advice! But... 

Im not a math nerd, but arent you talking about a power distribution curve? That is if you pivot your analysis around the mean (average) then you'll effectively get to the 80:20 rule 

Or more strictly around 75% of your pv will be provided by 10% of your audience? And so on 

Which is why the individual pv are so important - the long tail? 

Maybe Im being dumb! 

enjoyed the post as always! 

photo chris
photo chris

ROFLMAO! a Re-cap *HERE* would be awesome! I wonder if anyone but me (and maybe you, being from Chicago) know where Ottowa, IL IS? :-)

photo chris
photo chris

ThankyouThankyouThankyouThankyouTHANKYOU!

The blog "is coming" and I've been worried about how I will prove it's "usefulness" and "engagement" if no one comments. *happy sigh*  Thank you!

fieldsf
fieldsf

This is a fantastic post! Goals are pretty confusing for most folks, and these are simple to follow and simple to understand!

LouHoffman
LouHoffman

Appreciate the pragmatic advice.


And somewhat encouraged to see the average time on my own blog is similar to Spin Sucks (I thought readers were just "fast" with me).

yvettepistorio
yvettepistorio

I love how thorough you are in this post, super super helpful! 

PattiRoseKnight1
PattiRoseKnight1

I have a question; what if a person opens the link and steps away; is that counted as time spent if they forget to close the link?

DwayneAlicie
DwayneAlicie

This makes me want to spend all day learning Google Analytics!

TonyBennett
TonyBennett

Well this is just fantastic!! It makes me wanna dust off my keyboard, write a new post, want have an analytics party!! But no, I'm gonna go edit some pictures and feed into my obsession of everyone telling me how wonderful I am ;)

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ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@LouHoffman That's why I do lots of bullet points and images - makes it easier to scan...as much as I would love people to spend all day reading our stuff.

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski

@PattiRoseKnight1ep! That will show more time on page (read: more deeply engaged). It's something to keep in mind when you're reviewing the numbers.  

A lot of companies will neglect to filter out their own internal IP addresses, too, which only further skews the data. 

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Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@ginidietrich @dwaynealicie @belllindsay what she means is she works her staff overtime to send me hundreds of crazy data spread sheets with all sorts of numbers from retweets to increase in parking tickets seems to coincide with readership bump ups in a geographical areas. Often with pie charts. And I have to look at these hundreds of files and respond with 'business looks up' 'business looks down' or 'treading water'

Then I think she sells my response for 80 million dollars.


photo chris
photo chris

@ginidietrich @dwaynealicie @belllindsay I think I would love the math and analytics more if people weren't constantly skewing the numbers for pre-conceived notions and their own personal bend. Five should be a unit of 5 things no matter which way you write it....so says the English nerd.

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes

@ginidietrich Could be. DFW was all sorts of fun last night. Landed at 8:30 but by the time I got my bags and got home it was 11.

I appreciate the tutorial here. I am usually pretty good with this stuff, but Google Analytics has so much in it I haven't dug in the way I should. But I am starting now.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Gini Dietrich discusses “Three Data Points to Measure Your Blog Efforts” at Spin Sucks. [...]

  2. [...] Three Data Points to Measure Your Blog Efforts: I’ve been meaning to learn more about the goals feature in Google Analytics so Gini Dietrich’s post on Spin Sucks breaking down the exact steps you need to take to set up goals to track three data points came at the perfect time! [...]

  3. […] say the one simple metric that could be implemented tomorrow is the amount of referral traffic to a blog or website. This can easily be obtained through Google Analytics and shows how PR outreach/awareness results […]