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The Right Metrics for Measuring Audience Growth

When we think of audience growth, we tend to latch on to metrics that we believe will give us a good indication of a website's performance. However, this is typically done without isolating variables, which leaves takeaways hard to find.

I've heard from countless clients that it's great to have data in front of you, but what to do with it escapes them. And that underscores the problems with the concept of data itself. Your data set is not a roadmap, it's a set of gauges. In order to know what you should do with your data, it's important to know what each data point really means and why you're treating it as a key performance indicator (KPI).


I know this sounds obvious, but there are plenty of misunderstandings of common metrics which, unfortunately, lead to focusing on the wrong things. We must learn to interpret our data properly before we can know what decisions to make from it. To do this, we need to realize that all metrics are not the same and some are affected by unforeseen or hidden variables more than others.

Focus on User-Based Metrics

A good majority of the 'standard' metrics are session-based, but a 'session' is the wrong baseline. It's more useful to analyze and track user-based metrics instead because session-based metrics can be somewhat misleading in the context of audience growth. After all, we're trying to measure KPIs that are based on the habits of people (users), not fragments of what they do (sessions).

For example, let's say a single user comes to your site three times today and their visits looked like this:

  • Session #1: Reads one page, leaves.
  • Session #2: Reads two pages, leaves.
  • Session #3: Reads one page, leaves.

The 'Pages per Session' metric for this user would be 1.33, but that doesn't tell the whole story. The 'Pages per User' would be 4.00. The session didn't read the pages, the person did, and they read four.

As a publisher, this is a critical distinction when it comes to measuring engagement and loyalty. It really doesn't matter if a user reads four articles across three sessions (1.33 pages per session) They still read four articles, which is more valuable than a user that reads two articles in one session (2.00 pages per session) and never comes back. In this case, the session-based metric rewards the weaker overall user.

It's also worth noting that in our example above, two of those visits would be counted as bounced sessions, for a bounce rate of 66%. This doesn't paint a useful picture of what makes a valuable consumer of your content. The frequency of visits gets lost in the equation when you take a metric like bounce rate and apply it with a broad brush. By relying on session-based metrics, we're diluting the actionable insights that we can gain from our data. Wherever possible, we should be using our visitors as the starting point instead.

Creating Better KPIs for Audience Growth

Luckily, there's an opportunity to customize metrics within tools like Google Analytics and Google Data Studio so we can drill down to what is actually meaningful for publishers. Here are a few of the metrics we standardize on:

Sessions / User: This metric measures the average number of sessions that each user has in a given time period, and provides a visit frequency metric on a user basis.

Pages / User: This metric measures the average number of pageviews that each user has in a given time period. This can be used in place of 'Pages per Session.'

Time / User: This metric measures the average amount of time spent on your site by each user. This can be used in place of 'Avg. Time on Page' or 'Avg. Session Time,' and provides a more defined view of how long each user is spending on your page/site.

Used together, these custom metrics help define the core behavior of a site's user base. For publishers, 'Pageviews' are largely article views, so these metrics answer three critical questions:

  1. Frequency: How often are users coming to our site?
  2. Depth: How many articles does each user consume?
  3. Duration: How long is each user staying on the site?

By focusing on these three metrics as your KPIs, you're putting audience growth at the forefront of your data analysis efforts and setting yourself up for long-term success.

We Can Grow Together

We have a lot of mantras at RebelMouse. One of them is "Take big data and make it little again." We live close to our clients' insights so we can help them track trends, victories, and even pitfalls. Then, we distill this data to help content creators adjust their digital strategy in a way that actually moves the needle. Our global team is well-versed in every audience-building discipline, and our guidance is backed and tested against mountains of data we've collected over the years. Publishers have enough to juggle in the current digital climate. Let's focus on the right metrics together and cut out the noise. Request a proposal today to get started.

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Why RebelMouse Is the Best Content Marketing Platform

RebelMouse is a unique platform and company. The company was founded on the vision that media companies would need an always-modern solution to thrive in the new connected internet, and that brands would have to behave like new media companies and use the same platforms.

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New: Filter Posts by Primary Tag or Section

It's now possible to filter the Posts element in our Layout & Design tool by primary tags and primary sections. For now, this is only possible via XML attributes on the Posts element.

Below are the new attributes that allow you to filter by primary tags or sections, and how to use them.

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How to Add a Sticky Header Ad With a Timer

Timed stickiness optimizes for visibility on high page speed layouts

Generating effective ad revenue is one the most important integrations for any publisher. If a site's ad experience is not loaded properly, it will not only result in a bad user experience, but also a low PageSpeed Insights score as measured by Google, and this puts your organic traffic at risk.

The wrong way to integrate ads into your site is to load them before a browser has a chance to display other content. This is a tricky balance to get right because ads still need to load quickly to register impressions and generate revenue.

On RebelMouse, we implement ads so that they load quickly while not affecting page-rendering performance. These ads are referred to as "sticky," which means they're always visible on the page even when a user is scrolling — users still see them, and publishers still get the impressions they need.

Using a sticky header ad with a timer so it loads quickly is a great way to optimize for both ad visibility and site performance. Here's how it works.

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Facebook Offering Small Business Grants Program During COVID-19 Crisis

Program to provide $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for small businesses

Publishers big and small all over the globe are grappling with the financial constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Trying to find the right brand messaging in this unprecedented time is a balance that none of us have ever faced before.

We've developed a live-blog experience that's designed to maximize your potential on search. Keep your audiences up to date by the second as they turn to you for the latest news, updates, and guidance. This feature is free to government and healthcare organizations for immediate use.

In an effort to help ease the strain on publishers, Facebook has announced a Small Business Grants program for publishers. The social network is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits during the crisis. The offer is available for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses across 30 countries.

More information on how to apply for the program is forthcoming. Click here to learn more and sign up for updates. Check out Facebook's COVID-19 Business Resource Hub here.

Live-Blog Feature: Publish Real-Time Updates + Maximize Search Performance

Make sure your audience never misses an update

Many organizations are facing communication challenges after the recent outbreak of COVID-19. With so much information available everywhere, it is harder than ever to control the message of your own audience.

At RebelMouse, we're constantly iterating on our platform to help you make your content as relevant as possible. In the current news environment, staying on top of breaking stories using live blogs is incredibly important.

We've implemented our own version of the live-blog experience that's designed to maximize your potential on search. We power this new functionality using WebSockets, which allows for near-instant updates.

The advantage of creating a live blog using RebelMouse is that we index each live-blog update for search so that you receive SEO credit for every single update. This means if one of your live-blog updates hits on a key search phrase, it can drive a lot of traffic from search. This is superior to the traditional way of doing live updates where it was simply embedded JavaScript loading posts.

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The RebelMouse Creative Agency

  • Built for Times of Uncertainty
    • RebelMouse has had a distributed, remote workforce for years:
      • Our team collaborates easily across time zones.
      • Leaders in the company excelled within an ethos of remote work.
      • Our growth-centric team has worked closely together for years.
      • RebelMouse is made up of 60 people in 28 countries, exempt from any risk of a centralized shutdown.
      • Iterative culture that allows us to adapt rapidly to change
      • Diversified portfolio - we have clients across every vertical and every business type. Our solution works for brands and media companies of varying sizes and any content vertical
    • We're the best in breaking news and crisis communications:
      • Our digital services agency built the version of Axios that fueled their rapid growth, making them a new media giant over the past three years.
      • United Airlines uses RebelMouse's agency and tech services to power their content hub and communicate with customers.
      • We're the agency behind La Verità, a subscription-based news site in Milan, Italy that has been at the center of the COVID-19 crisis.
    • We build products designed for a mobile, office-less world:
      • Editors, writers, reporters, and creators can keep up with breaking news and vital edits, and can create content all on their mobile device.
      • In times of crisis, being fast to respond is critical. Solutions that require a desktop environment to create and edit content are no longer appropriate.
    • We don't require any new capital:
      • Our business can elegantly move up and down like an accordion to fit in the current publishing climate.
      • RebelMouse has not required capital for over three years, and is in a strong cash position to survive hard economic times.
    • "No business travel" has been our company policy for many years:
      • It's our policy to avoid business travel if possible. We haven't required a single in-person meeting to close a new deal or launch a new property in years.
      • We know how to work with clients through technology to understand each other and deliver what's needed for success.
      • Our unique work culture makes us very resilient in times where business travel is shut down.
  • Lower-Cost Products With Bigger Returns
    • We build best-in-class digital experiences:
      • The RebelMouse CMS will outperform any platform on page speed, stability, and breadth of features.
      • We power massively popular websites and scale without breaking a sweat.
      • Our CEO is a technical, product-focused person who built HuffPost. The team she's built at RebelMouse since 2012 is passionate about products that outperform.
  • Digital Growth Specialists
    • RebelMouse + Media companies:
      • We grow RPMs.
      • We improve ad visibility.
      • We create new opportunities for digital revenue.
        • Paywalls
        • E-commerce
        • Native advertising
        • Programmatic advertising
    • RebelMouse + Brands:
      • Our digital agency helps brands reach potential customers at scale by winning in search and social.
      • We put in better conversion units and the data systems to track iterations on the metrics that matter.
      • RebelMouse technology builds smarter, faster pages that convert better for paid campaigns.

Learn more about the team at RebelMouse.

Digital Asset Manager Renamed to Library

Your RebelMouse image database has been renamed Library and will no longer be referred to as Digital Asset Manager (DAM).

You can access your Library using the hamburger menu (☰) or by typing YourDomain/core/dashboard/Library into your address bar:

In Entry Editor, click the plus icon () to pull up your Add Media Bar. This is where you'll see Library as an available resource for media in the drop-down menu:

If you have any questions about accessing or using your Library, email support@rebelmouse.com or talk to your account manager today.

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