Take advantage of web analytics to drive profitability at your online magazine.
Is it realistic to tell magazine publishers that every decision they make should be guided by web analytics? Probably not. But the truth is, the more publishers can get behind web analytics, the stronger their publications will become.
When most people think of the term “web analytics,” they think of dwell times and click-through rates. While those are both important metrics to pay attention to, online magazine publishers shouldn’t limit themselves to the basics. We recommend that publishers with online magazines dig deep into their web analytics and traffic reports.
Web analytics were designed to give publishers a way to understand who their audiences are and how they interact on their websites. Analytics can also be useful for discovering which “hooks” work best for getting visitors to the desired pages or sections on a website.
Publishers who are interested in analyzing web analytics have thousands of metrics to choose from. However, five of the most important metrics for magazine publishers are:
- Audience Characteristics Looking at audience characteristics, magazine publishers are able to get a better understanding of what types of content their readers want to engage with and what formats they prefer.
- User Behavior How are visitors interacting with the website? Looking at user behavior metrics, publishers can start to understand what triggers increase the chances of a reader sharing content, or on the opposite end of the spectrum, quickly clicking away from the website.
- Audience Segments Segmenting online audiences is one of the ways that publishers can figure out how best to target readers based on interests and behaviors. Audiences can be segmented based on factors like visitor loyalty, device, referral channel, geography, demographics, and interest categories.
- Top Landing Pages and Exit Pages Where are people entering the website? That’s a question that publishers can answer by looking at their top landing pages. A good analytics tool should be able to shed light on where visitors are engaging the most or spending the most time. If visitors are continuing to exit when they reach a specific page, then that page should be reconfigured to keep readers sticking around for longer.
- Custom Dimensions Publishers often use custom dimensions in Google Analytics to track the performance of writers on their websites and pinpoint which authors are putting out the most popular content. Custom dimensions in Google Analytics can be set up to track the post type, author, tags, focus keyword, category, and SEO score.
How to Use Web Analytics
Digging into web analytics reports, magazine publishers can find answers to questions that may inform their business and editorial decisions.
Common questions that magazine publishers can answer by looking at their analytics and traffic reports include:
- How are visitors are arriving at their websites?
- Which articles are driving the most traffic?
- Which types of content are keeping readers engaged?
- Which search terms are people using to find their websites?
- How long are people are staying on the website?
- Which authors or topics are most popular among everyday readers?
That’s just a small sample of the questions that publishers can answer when they look at their web analytics reports.
Analytics Tools for Online Magazines
The most popular web analytics tool for online magazine publishers is Google Analytics. In addition to using Google’s robust platform, publishers with WordPress websites also have the option of adding a Google Analytics plugin.
With a plugin like Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress by MonsterInsights, magazine publishers can quickly access the statistics that are most relevant to their industries. Plugins tend to be much easier to implement than other add-on tools, which means most publishers can start using an analytics plugin without hiring a developer.
Other popular WordPress analytics plugins for magazine publishers include:
- Google Analytics Dashboard for WP
- Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress
- Jetpack by WordPress.com
- WP Power Stats
- WP Statistics
Web Analytics in the Real World
Platforms like Google Analytics and WordPress plugins, like the ones mentioned above, are useful tools for collecting basic website analytics. But what do you do with the data once you’ve got it? That’s the real question that online magazine publishers want to answer.
With the data from their web analytics platforms, publishers can learn how visitors are interacting with their websites and how they can make content more successful.