Measure, understand and ‘read’ faithful readers
“Gone are the days of chasing traffic,” said Stat’s Rick Berke at Nieman Lab. To which we say, “Amen.” Now, while there will still be publications for whom traffic is an important indicator of ‘success’, there are other, more nuanced, ways to discern whether or not what you’re producing represents a good return on investment.
It’s hardly revelatory to say that quality content and successfully implementing reader revenue models go hand in hand. Content must deliver value to its readership, or that readership will scatter to the four winds faster than you can say ‘fake news’. So what should we be paying attention to, if not traffic and volume? Well, as Julia B. Chan noted last year: “It was right in front of us all along — it just wasn’t pageviews.” She’s right: it’s loyalty.
How do you measure loyalty, then?
Well, while there’s no industry standard, that hasn’t stopped publishers gravitating towards certain methodologies. Recency, frequency, and returning visitors are the commonly used methods of assessing reader loyalty – and it’s easy to see why. If a reader has visited your site this morning and tends to visit daily, those two measures combined represent a pretty good indication that they’ve formed a habit around your content. ‘Habitual’ is, after all, a word with exceedingly positive connotations for publishers when they’re studying reader behaviour.
As with all metrics, however, looking at each individually isn’t likely to be particularly insightful.