Growing a digital magazine involves lots of hard work in editorial processes, writing perfect articles, and building relationships with the readers. When you reach a certain point of success, you’ll want to scale more, rebuild your magazine and gain more followers, readers, interactions and conversations on your site. This is where analytics step in to help you comprehend whether you’ve managed to achieve your audience and revenue goals!
As a digital publisher that uses WordPress as a CMS, if you only utilize pageviews and session durations, you won’t get the full return on your analytics investment. With this article, we want to encourage you to dig more into your data as a media publisher and analyze insights in a more organized way in order to find more opportunities to improve on your KPIs and goals.
1. Benchmark Your Audience
With Google Analytics, you can discover valuable insight into your audience and define their actions and channels that can bring you the most traffic and revenue.
Different audiences react differently to your content. For example, older readers might not find your ‘teen celebs’ category that amusing as high school students do. Your most frequent visitors that read your content care more about the topics of your digital magazine than the ones that visit your site on occasions.
If you want to touch a certain demographic, you need to analyze the performance of your content in order to identify the audience that is most interested in your content.
Once you benchmark the audience that you want to reach, as a publisher, you can hone in on the best-performing topics and categories that the target readers want to engage with.
Open your Google Analytics account and navigate to Audience > Demographics > Overview
You can use the Demographics Overview report to get a view of the gender of your audience (male vs. female), and their age.
Drill into each of the age and gender brackets to see the top interests of the audience and how they differ between age and gender.
The Age, Gender, and Interests reports all encompass engagement and conversion metrics. You can begin from these reports and form an image of your most valuable readers.
If you’re a publisher who sells ad space, you’ll want to let advertisers know who are the users that consume your pages the most, and the extent to which they consume them. With Google Analytics, you can evaluate consumption according to metrics such as Sessions, Bounce Rate, Pages per Session, and Average Session Duration.
If you serve lifestyle content, and you have a section of that site for lifestyle accessories such as luggage and gadgets, with Google Analytics, you can create a session-based Segment to isolate traffic for those pages alone. You can also see the age and gender of the users that conducted sessions on that group of pages.
Bringing targeted audiences back to your website is not only about engagement. It’s also about proving to advertisers that your pages can provide them value and they’ll reach the audiences that the ads need to be displayed to.
Through analyzing your content, as a publisher, you can analyze the interests of your target audience, benchmark the audience, and then work on creating the content that suits their interests for greater page views and engagement levels.
2. Have Conversions as Priority
Page views, average session duration, and audience demographics are extremely important for digital publishing. However, you must measure conversions on your site and associate them with the success of your content as well.
How effective are the native advertising campaigns on your pages? You need to evaluate the success of campaigns and match the engaged minutes with page views and engagement time with the number of pages and articles.
A conversion occurs when the visitors take the action that you want them to take on your site and at that point they’re “converted”. This could be through reading an article, seeing or clicking an ad, or just by simply demonstrating high interaction with your pages.
With Google Analytics, everything you need is a specified goal and a unique URL that points out to the source of the click. You can use the Google Analytics URL Builder to tag your URLs with custom campaign tracking parameters. Just fill out the form by inserting your article URL along with the additional campaign details.
You can use the new URL for your campaign in place of your standard URL. Google Analytics will suppose that the user who clicks this URL is from the campaign and it will assign any actions they take to the campaign as well.
The next critical factor that you need to think about when it comes to conversions are goals. If you haven’t set them up yet, you’ll need to construct goals in Google Analytics and track the conversions accordingly.
In Google Analytics, there are several main goals that you can define:
- Destination Goals: Tracking the visitor’s activity on an individual or a set of pages.
- Engagement Goals: Tracking the time that people spend on your website, the number of pages they visit and their activities.
- Event Goals: Tracking actions that occur separately from a page load, such as document downloads, video plays, AJAX elements, etc.
Setting up Destination Goals
Here are the steps that you’ll need in order to set up destination goals for your digital magazine:
At the bottom of your left navigation area, select ‘Admin’
In the next column, select ‘Goals’:
Select ‘New Goal’
Select ‘Custom’ and go to ‘Continue’
Name your goal and select the Destination
In the destination field, you can include the URL of the page that you want to track the goal for. Check if each of the settings is ok, and when you save the goal, you can access it on your Goals page.
Setting up Engagement Goals
For example, if you want to set up ‘Session duration’ or ‘Pages/Screens per session’.
Again, use the Admin panel to access ‘Goals’, and also, under ‘Goals Setup’, again, access ‘Custom’. Name your goal, for example, “10 pages in a visit”
Click on ‘Save’ after you’re done.
Setting up Event Goals
Event goals are finalized when a specific event is completed on your page. The event goal can measure and track ad clicks, video views, and other visitor interaction on your website.
Follow the steps above to create a Custom goal, and in the ‘Goal Description’ field, name your event and select ‘Event’.
If you know the event that you want to track, you can insert the category, the action, label, and value too, for example:
- Category: CTA
- Action: CTA Click
- Label: Landing Page CTA
- Value: N/A
The Event goals option of Google Analytics is a really flexible one, and you can use it to track pretty much everything on your website.
3. Compare the Performance of Your Entire Network
As the digital publishing industry progresses, you must learn how to integrate the latest CMS innovations. It’s a common practice for big publishers to have not just one, but even hundreds of local subsites under one WordPress Multisite network.
You can also utilize Google Analytics for your Multisite network as well to analyze how your articles, writers, and ad spaces perform throughout the entire network of websites. You can also analyze metrics between websites in your network, which is extremely beneficial because you can gauge the performance of every subsite in your network.
Under one Google Analytics account you can keep track of:
- Subdomains: Tracking all visitors that come to both yourweb.example.com and www.yourweb.com, with data for both showing in the same report.
- Subdirectories: Tracking only visitors to the www.yourwebexample.com/something subdirectory in a separate GA report as a single site.
- Top-level domains: Tracking all users that land on two of your domains, such as www.example-yourweb.com and www.example-your-web.com, with data for both displayed in the same report.
- IFramed Content: Tracking visitor and pageview data for content in an iFrame of another domain.
You can learn more about the different GA multisite tracking scenarios here.
4. Segment, Then Grow
Through Google Analytics, you can figure out how various segments of your audience engage with your articles and other content of your digital magazine.
There’s a significant difference between the carefully-segmented target audience and the entire audience that visits your digital publication. As an experienced digital publisher, you should be aware that scaling a digital news publication is much more than drawing as many visitors as possible.
If you want to keep attracting certain segments of your audience, such as your most dedicated and engaged readers and place articles that are of interest to those readers, even if the rest of your audience is not interested in those posts. With the right content analytics strategy, you can ensure that your content reaches the right readers.
As a publisher, you’ll be able to increase your revenue when if you build and maintain a targeted audience. This magnifies the importance of structuring and segmenting your audience for the purpose of delivering an experience that is action-specific to the readers, their preferences and interests such as personalized content, improved user-interface, and of course, ads.
Advertisers themselves are prepared to bid more if you have a correctly segmented audience. The reason for this is that relevant ads are able to deliver better leads and conversions for them. Around 62% of marketing professionals consider that audience segmentation is necessary for a greater ad targeting and one of the top priorities for digital publishing growth.
This means that most of your audience segmentation process will depend on the advertisers’ needs. However, there are some core audience segmentation factors that you need to follow:
- Demographic: Filtering your audience based on their age group, gender, language, affinity category, behavior, traffic source, location and more. These are the most essential data that advertisers request and it’s excellent for demographic targeting.
- Behavior: Segmenting users based on their behavior can help you understand their interactions and the data that you’ll collect is excellent for behavioral targeting. You can evaluate the user behavior based on sessions, session duration, clicks, and bounce rate.
- Technology: Using filters such as OS, browser, screen resolution, device category, etc. If you need to target the users on their mobile devices, you can also add segments by mobile device, mobile brand, and model, which is excellent for technical targeting.
- Traffic Source: The traffic source segment will help you discover the source of your web visits. This can be direct, organic, paid campaigns, social media, referral, and more. These segments can assist you in preparing your attribution models and more about the user journey of your target audience.
Today, with policies such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in place, audience segmentation is getting more complex than ever, and of course, you must take the security and privacy of the audience into account, it’s mandatory!
Additionally, with privacy violations like the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal, readers are becoming more cautious with the data collection methods that publishers use and effectively block the third-party cookies. If you want more data for the purpose of segmentation, it is also your responsibility to ensure data safety for your readers as well!
Bottom line, you work tirelessly with your editorial squad to produce a staggering amount of quality and engaging content. However, if you’re not able to make data-driven decisions in the editorial process, you can’t provide the required content and personalized experience that the users crave for.
We hope that with this article, we’ve encouraged you to have a detailed look into your Google Analytics data, realize who your best visitors are, and come up with new content and ad monetization strategies to increase your readership and your revenue. Study the users and dissect their browsing habits and requests. You’ll gain significant data on how to enhance your media publishing experience and improve UX for the users!
If you need extra help in analytics and scaling your publishing company for over 100M visits per month, don’t hesitate to contact our team! Last year alone we scaled more than 10 publishers from thousands to hundreds of millions of monthly page views, maximizing their revenue and cutting down on recurring costs in the process. We’ve successfully resolved some terrible situations that WordPress publishers were in and we pulled through!