This spring, I stumbled upon a new-to-me analytics provider whose mission has fascinated me ever since. The company, Chartbeat, launched in 2009 and aims to provide “Real-time data for front-line doers”—that is, they analyze how readers are interacting with your entire content spread in order to provide valuable information for improving your content marketing strategy.
Traditionally, we’ve approached analytics from a historic perspective: How many people visited the website? How many clicked a link? How many immediately left? The practice is past-tense and focused on single actions: a page view, a bounce. These traffic numbers help a great deal in satisfying the popular saying, “If you build it, they will come.”
But will they buy a box of Cracker Jack and stay until the ninth inning?
This has always been my curiosity. Traditional analytics have us focused on volume-centric data, but I’ve always wondered more about the experiences that keep individual readers scrolling.
Chartbeat is tackling my queries with its offer of real-time analytics. They ask a different set of questions: How long are readers engaged? What part of the page is engaging them or killing their interest? What turns website visitors into regulars? While traditional analytics focus on traffic, this real-time data brings the focus to engagement and experience.
For an example, take a peek at the results Chartbeat provided Slate, which is not immune to the fact that many online readers don’t even read an entire article. I was intrigued by the breakdown of how far various readers make it into an article—especially as someone with a habit of reading paragraph one, scrolling to the comments, browsing the suggested articles (“Ooo, I want to read that next!”) and then returning to actually read the piece. Trust me that this is worth reading all the way to page two.
I’ve been mulling over how to put these new facts into practice. It should come as no surprise that I keep coming to that tried and true bit of EVG wisdom: Quality content matters. Your marketing strategy should include engaging editorial work to motivate readers towards conversion. If your website isn’t performing like you want, then it’s time to review your content through a different lens and focus on the whole reader experience.
Harvin Bedenbaugh – Editor