9 Essential Web Metrics for Paid-Circulation Marketers

March 11, 2011  |   Marketing   |     |   0 Comment

You need web marketing to reach your target market. But when your prospects interact with your publications online, what do they do? Do they jump off your page? Do they find one article, stick with it and never visit anywhere else on your site? How well do they convert to paid subscribers? Below are some basic web metrics you need to know to effectively market your publications online.

1) Click-thru rate

Click-thrus are how visitors come to your site (they “click through” from an email or keyword campaign). Mostly, you want higher click-thru rates, but not if your funnel does little to drive visitors to the next step. Paying for clicks with search-engine-marketing campaigns is a great way to generate quality traffic, but if there’s no apparent goal upon a visitor’s arrival to your landing page, then you’re wasting money.

But with Google Adwords campaigns, don’t wish for a low click-thru rate regardless of your funnel. Because Google wants to make money, click-thru rates are more important than bids when deciding which position your ad will get. To illustrate this, consider two ads. A has a 10% click-thru rate and B a 1% click-thru rate. For B to make Google as much money as A, they need to pay 10x the amount that the first ad bids. If A bids $3 per click, B will need to bid $30 to reach the same slot. And if you’re not in the top 3, you won’t get much Adwords traffic.

2) Cost per click

How much do you invest for someone to click and enter your site? This is important because, presumably, you track your visitor-to-trial conversion rate and your trial-to-paid-subscription conversion rate. Therefore, you know the approximate value of each new website visitor.

For example, if you sell a newsletter for $1,000 per year, and you convert 5% of visitors to trials and 20% of trials to paid subscribers, then out of 100 visitors, you’ll get 5 trials and 1 paid sub for a 1% overall net conversion rate. That means your 100 visitors yielded $1,000. A click from outside your site is worth $10 to you. In your online marketing, you can therefore profitably spend $9.99 to buy your click.

Keep track of how much your clicks cost per Google campaign, per keyword group and any other way you think makes sense. In this way, you optimize your online campaigns for a better ROI.

3) Unique visitors

When marketers look for an overall metric by which to judge the popularity of their site, they used to talk about hits, which is the number of client requests made to your web server. With greater sophistication in web tracking, we now look at unique visitors.

Unique visitors are the individual people who come to your website, and it is probably the best overarching metric to use in circulation as it ties most closely to a subscriber. Tracking visits helps you determine how well your funnel works in converting visitors to members to paid subscribers.

As a side note, sometimes the number of unique visitors will look wrong depending on your time filters. For example, let’s say you records the number of unique visitors and find 2,000, 3,000, 2,500 and 2,500 over four weeks (10,000 total). But filtering over the entire four-week period gives you 9,000 visitors. How can this be? A visitor who returns in weeks 1 and 2 will be counted twice in the first search, but only once in the second.

4) Pages per visit

This metric shows engagement. When 10,000 visitors look at 30,000 pages, you average 3 pages per visit. This will change from week to week. If you have an extremely popular article, pages/visitor could drop as more readers only look at that single article. That doesn’t mean your website has failed, it just points out how users experience your brand over time.

5) Conversion rate

Track all the rates at which your marketing converts people to the next step. In web metrics, conversions refer specifically to moving a unique visitor to a specific goal. Most likely, the goal is the thank you page of a free trial form, but it could also be a particularly important download or engagement in a social media campaign. Track conversions on every step of the way but, most importantly, make sure you know how many visitors become trial subscribers.

6) Cost per conversion

Like cost per click, this will help you determine whether your Adwords campaigns are working. Knowing your free-to-paid rate, you can calculate how much to pay for a conversion. If you find yourself happy with your cost per click, but with no conversions, then give your site’s users a stronger push to a form or ask for less information from visitors who you want to sign up.

7) Bounce rate

A bounce rate shows how many visitors abandon your site at a certain spot. Each of your pages has a bounce rate, and high bounce rates are normally frowned upon. But in some scenarios, a high bounce rate is good. At an FAQ or customer service page, a high bounce rate indicates that customers have found their answer and are ready to move on. But if you have a high home page bounce rate, it means your content isn’t sticky. During big redesigns, pay attention to this metric to determine success or failure in showcasing your content.

8) Return visits

How many visitors do you get who are new? You’ll want to drive this percentage upwards when you’re campaigning to new audiences. As publishers with a lot of recurring visitors, this rate will be far higher than other businesses.

9) Time on site

Another way to evaluate the stickiness and quality of your content is to see how long your visitors spend on each page. By classifying your articles, you can determine where subscribers spend the most time. This will help you figure out which content to offer more.

Other things to look at

Path analysis: Figuring out the paths your users take through your site can help you understand their behavior and where they may be getting stuck.

Traffic sources: Where does your traffic come from? Hopefully you have a good mix of organic and paid search, social media visits and links from other websites. Seeing how your traffic comes to you can tell you a lot about who your customers are and what they care about.

Geographic locations: Where do your visitors live? Are you ignoring a huge potential market in The Netherlands, where visitors stream onto your site only to discover that you publish North American-specific content?

Service providers: Do any service providers stand out amongst your visitors? If you still have a lot of unidentified visitors (meaning those who haven’t signed up for anything), you may want to look here to identify any larger organizations where lots of visitors come to you. Maybe you could call those companies to sell them a site license or research the content they want to buy.

Browsers: Which browsers do your visitors use? Are they coming from their iPads? Have you made sure your site is optimized for the Android, which 10% of your visitors use?

Your web site is complicated, and it is the biggest door today through which your subscribers will find your content. So make sure you understand what they like, how long they stay, how engaged they are and, most importantly, that they can take the actions which will make your business successful.


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