Online publishers are successful when they manage to monetise web traffic – by tracking the ad revenue generated, but also by understanding which pages are performing well and why. This first digital media dashboard inventories the material they need to understand their audience and the content that is attractive.
On the top banner, you are tracking the part of your audience that is the most engaged with your content: subscribers. Not only do they read what you publish, but they also pay for it and to have a premium access to other articles not available otherwise. They are the people you want to pamper, as we know that retaining an existing customer is cheaper than acquiring new ones. Getting to know your audience better by analysing its demographics is a first step: gender, age, location, and even interests – all of this will give you keys to create customised content they’ll find appealing. Knowing where they live also helps in organising your calendar, so as to publish at the right time, when you have the most chances to reach them.
In general, you want to know who visits your website, from where, which device and at what time of the day. This is why you should track your subscribers' metrics in particular, but also the overall traffic you receive over the months, and see how you perform. If you have a spike or a drop in visitors, investigate the reasons behind it: did a specific type of content performed above average? Did you make any change on the website to enhance user experience? Were you featured on a very high domain website handling a lot of traffic? Be sure to understand what are the success or “failure” factors so as to reproduce them – or not!
The same will apply for the following metrics displayed on our digital media dashboard: the top article by readers and the top categories by readers. When you know what type of content is bringing in a lot of traffic, you can question the reasons of such a success: is the subject matter rather polemical or very topical; is it the format used for this subject, or the writing style, the promotion you did? The visits volume however, should always be analysed along other metrics, that will give you a broader image of the traffic: time on page and bounce rate, for instance, will let you know if people actually found what they were looking for and stayed – or if you had a very catchy tagline misleading people, who left immediately after landing on the page. Likewise, the top categories will let you know what type of content people come for on your website. Reading this metric in parallel with the percentage of articles belonging to each category can be interesting: if a category has few articles, but these attract the most traffic, you might reconsider your strategy and focus more on that category.
Other metrics like the average visit duration and the number of pages per visit will let you know how your audience behaves on your website: do they like and engage with your content, by clicking on internal links sending them to other articles, and stay longer? Just like the bounce rate and time on page mentioned earlier, these KPIs are good indicators when you want to know if people found what they were looking for.
Our second digital media dashboard example tackles the social media part of your online publishing house. Whatever we think about social networks, as magical heaven with unicorns for advertisers, or bringing doomsday upon everyone’s head by spreading hatred speech and narcissism; it is just impossible to ignore. The printing industry had to face the advent and widespread of the internet and initiate a transition towards an online presence; most of those who resisted it and shut their door to the web failed, lost a lot of money and opportunities, if they didn’t crash for real. The same goes for your social media presence that should be dealt with care, and form an integral part of your general strategy.
Such social media engagement dashboard should help you get an overview of your social presence with the main metrics you want to track: first of them looks at the number of followers gained to the one lost. Your followers’ growth will tell about your popularity over time and provides an indication of your “share of conversation”. You should monitor the evolution over time and across different platforms, to see where you reach the most audience. Compare your fanbase to those of your direct competitors, not the biggest one obviously – if you are a local newspaper in a specific language, comparing your fanbase to the New York Times does not make sense.
You also want to get to know your followers, the same way you looked at your audience demographics. By knowing who is liking your page, their age and gender, you can also target the content you share better, and the way you share it: video material, surveys, formal or casual speech, level of interactivity, etc.
Finally, the column on the right side of our second digital media dashboard template pays attention at the engagement of your audience. Compare the number of posts you produce against the reactions it produces: how many clicks in total and on average per post, the comments left and shares. These last two metrics are very important because they reveal the interest sparked off by a certain post. You want to know which content triggers the most reactions, shares and comment, so as to reproduce its success – provided these reactions are not a bad buzz. Bad buzzes are also something you want to monitor, as it can happen and spread uncontrollably like wildfire because of the virality of social networks.
Shares and comments both increase your reach, as they place your content on top of the follower’s friends’ newsfeed. This is sort of free advertisement that can bring you more followers, and grow your fanbase. Comments are also a good place for you to get closer to your readership and give a more ‘human’ face to your name. If people see that you interact and answer, they are much more likely to come back than they would for another page totally silent and ignoring fans’ requests and comments.
Last of our digital media dashboards, the content quality control dashboard will help you monitor the making of an article. From the story turnaround time to the reading ease, you have all the key performance indicators to keep content production under control.
Starting with the turnaround time, you get an idea of how much time an article needs before it gets online and read by your readership. You get an average for each stage of the process – conception and writing, submission and editing, revisions, publication and archiving. That way, you can monitor all the articles in progress and spot those that stay too long at a certain stage, and find the reasons why – is the author struggling in writing? Are there not enough people for revisions? Bottlenecks at the publication stage? That allows for a more serene calendar management.
You also have a summary of the top articles per likes received, and the respective comments and shares. You can therefore analyse these metrics in parallel and see if there are any correlation. Looking at the likes, comments and shares shouldn’t be determining the performance of some content though – these metrics are indeed often referred to as vanity metrics. They do not provide the entire picture, but still give an idea of the engagement aroused by a topic. You can analyse them along with other content-related KPIs, so as to understand the success factors behind it.
For instance, the Flesch Reading Ease score is a US index that lets you know the difficulty level of a text. It takes into account the number of words, sentences and syllables, and grades the text from 0 to 100 according to the difficulty. That can help you in adapting writing tone and style to your audience’s preferences, if you realise that low-scored (difficult) content have a very low traffic, engagement, time on page and scroll-down. Of course, you do not want to lower your standards; but producing content requires time and ultimately money. It is something that you want to be read and providing some sort of return on investment. So, if you realise that hard-to-read content does not bring any traffic nor returns, you might want to review your strategy and adapt your goals according to these results. However, do not panic if your content doesn’t take off straight away – when it is optimised for SEO and does not benefit from an ad campaign, it can take up to 3 to 4 months before you see a steady traffic.
Publishers have been through many ups and downs since the internet settled and changed the rules. To keep pace with constantly evolving practices and face the new challenges, working with real-time information will let you make the right decisions at the right moment. Opportunities come and go, but you do not want to miss them all – spotting the new trends before they arise is one of the many possibilities dashboards offer. Get now actionable insights from your analytics thanks to a digital media software!
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