Close

Copyright © RebelMouse 2019

Follow Us:

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.

You're almost there! Fill out the form below and a Rebel will contact you within one business day.

x

Meet RebelMouse

Build on a better platform that supports far-reaching content distribution, impactful conversion, and unparalleled loyalty.

The world's largest companies trust us to power their global, multiplatform content experience. As a platform, we're now one of the largest in the world, reaching 50+ million people every month. As a creative agency, we build mass pop culture hits that grow organically to become household names — Axios and The Dodo, for example.

We work strategically with United Airlines and many other brands to establish the new media roadmap for their future and implement it. RebelMouse was founded by the CTO who built The Huffington Post. The founding vision and mission is still the same today: to be the right new media platform for both media companies and brands. It's working exceedingly well, and we're delivering some staggering results for our clients.

Read our latest deck here!

Keep reading... Show less

Publishers No Longer Have to Submit Their Site to Google News

Google's Publisher Center creates new opportunities for audience growth

Just before the start of the next decade, Google announced an important change to its Google News offering with the launch of Google Publisher Center. The new interface merges Google News Producer and Google News Publisher into one to streamline the partnership process for publishers.

Overall, the change should make it easier for publishers to manage their Google News settings, including updating themes, directing URLs to section pages, and configuring user permissions. Read the full list of features here.

Keep reading... Show less

Custom HTML Class Names for Rows and Columns

Assign attributes to your site's rows and columns

You can now add custom HTML class names to rows and columns in RebelMouse's Layout & Design tool. HTML classes can be used for many things, particularly to style elements within a wrapper that has a certain set of CSS properties, or to trigger JavaScript.

This feature eliminates the need to use a separate Element Wrapper to add a class to a set of elements, because the row or column itself can call that specific ID you would typically assign to the Element Wrapper. This creates cleaner, more efficient code in our Layout & Design tool.

You can find the HTML Class within the Properties card of your row or column:

You can also highlight more than one row or column at a time to assign it to the same HTML Class.

This is how it looks in Document Object Model (DOM):

For a refresher on all of the elements available in our Layout & Design tool, click here. If you have any questions about this feature, email support@rebelmouse.com or talk with your account manager today.

How to Create Author Badges

Customize every author profile for a personalized approach

The digital publishing ecosystem is a universe of creators. At RebelMouse, we've created a collaborative publishing experience that allows creators, editors, and influencers to work together in a community-style, customizable workflow.

We recently updated our community features with Author Badges, a feature that gives authors on your site a unique image to compliment their avatar. For example, if an author tends to write about "Trending" topics, you could assign a "Trending" badge to them.

To add an Author Badge from our Badges Dashboard, first navigate to /core/r_dashboard/badges on your site. From there, click the blue ⨁ icon in the bottom right-hand corner to create a new Author Badge.

Keep reading... Show less

What You Need to Know About Facebook News

The social platform's dedicated news tab is now being offered to select publishers

It's estimated that 43% of American adults get their news on Facebook. With an upcoming U.S. presidential election in 2020, the massive social platform has an opportunity to mend fences with its reputation after 2016's fake news fallout and corresponding Cambridge Analytica scandal. In October 2019, Facebook announced the launch of Facebook News, a dedicated tab for news on the platform that aims to give users more control over the news they read.

Facebook News launched to only about 200,000 U.S. users, with articles from local publications in major cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Houston. Roughly 200 publishers are working with Facebook on the initial rollout. The feature is still being tested and is currently only available on mobile.

According to an announcement from Facebook on the feature, users can expect to find a wide range of content on Facebook News, including:

  • Today's Stories chosen by a team of journalists to catch you up on the news throughout the day.
  • Personalization based on the news you read, share, and follow, so you can find new interests and topics, and so Facebook News is fresh and interesting every time you open it.
  • Topic sections to dive deeper into business, entertainment, health, science & tech, and sports.
  • Your Subscriptions, a section for people who have linked their paid news subscriptions to their Facebook account.
  • Controls to hide articles, topics, and publishers you don't want to see.

Some of the articles served to users on Facebook will be curated by humans, but the feed will mostly be organized through an algorithm that should become more personalized based on each reader's behavior.

Currently there are several hoops to jump through to become a Facebook News publisher. Pages must serve a large audience, follow Facebook's integrity standards, and be registered in the platform's News Page Index to be considered.

Click here to begin the registration process for your Page to become part of Facebook News.

At RebelMouse, we're dedicated to sustainable growth across the entire digital publishing ecosystem. We power sites with a rich user experience, but also enable our publishers to create content that easily travels across platforms, including Facebook. We're closely monitoring this newest feature from Facebook, particularly the screening process for publishers to be accepted into the program. If you have any questions about Facebook News and its current rollout, please email support@rebelmouse.com or talk to your account manager today.

You're almost there! Fill out the form below and a Rebel will contact you within one business day.

x

How to Add + Style Horizontal Rules

Organize your text with horizontal rules

Horizontal rules help editorial teams build content that is both visually appealing and structurally solid as they break up articles into clear and understandable sections that audiences can easily identify.

Horizontal rules are easy to add and style using our Entry Editor and our Layout & Design tool. From Entry Editor, simply click the Horizontal Rule icon in the toolbar and a horizontal demarcation will be placed within your text.

Keep reading... Show less

Inside Our Fastly Recovery Plan

How we offer reliable site security

The purpose of our disaster recovery plan is to prevent downtimes with Amazon Web Service (AWS) that directly affect site reliability. We pride ourselves on our ability to reliably keep traffic flowing to our client's sites, even in the event of a disruption.

We partner with Fastly — our CDN provider — for our failover plan, which is based on rerouting traffic directly to our servers in case of an outage.

Keep reading... Show less
Subscribe to Our Newsletter