You're a smart musician who's got an official website so that you're not just building up somebody else's social network. You check out site states probably emphasizing how many visitors you're getting, where they came from and, as much as you can, why you got sudden surges or drops. Though that puts you ahead of many, there are deeper level to the site stats aka analytics game worth considering. I recently came across a treasure trove of information from Chartbeat that makes a clear case for what to do next.
Chartbeat provides website analytics. You sign up for an account, put their code on your site and they start tracking what's up. That's how most such sites work and many people use Google Analytics to do the job because it's a solid product and it's free.
Chartbeat's pricing starts at $9.95 a month and goes up from there. I've been interested in what they do but haven't felt compelled to use the product until I started reading their posts and research on traffic sources and user behavior. Like good content marketers, they include some insights into how their product works and it sounds pretty awesome.
Connecting Traffic Sources and Site Visitor Behavior
You're probably already clued into the fact that you get more traffic when you post on one source over another. But have you considered how user behavior differs based on traffic sources?
In the concluding post of a 5 post series, Chartbeat's Josh Schwartz shares an infographic flowchart that shows what Chartbeat has discovered in aggregate concerning site visitors from key sources like one's homepage, Twitter, Google News, Google Search and Facebook.
Remember that aggregate info should be used as a starting point not a final destination. It may suggest things to try out but you need to figure out what's happening on your site, not the average of behavior from everybody else's sites.
In the process of sharing the aggregated data chart, Schwartz reveals a basic series of steps to figure out which traffic is most important to you.
After identifying where traffic comes from and how many people visit, it's time to figure out what they do after they show up.
What Do Your Visitors Do & How Often Do They Return?
Chartbeat apparently makes it a lot easier to figure out the following and connect it back to where the traffic originated:
How engaged are visitors while on you're site and what do they do while they're there?
How often do they return to your site?
Given such information, you can answers key questions like:
On what traffic sources should we focus our efforts?
Chartbeat's Publishing tier helps with specific data points such as "return rate" and "return direct rate." More generally they've seen that:
"visitors from social sources have the highest likelihood of returning, while sources like Google News, Reddit, and Outbrain are likely to increase your site's reach by sending new visitors, but are unlikely to meaningfully help you grow your audience in a self-sustaining way."
Again, that's in the aggregate and may help explain what you're seeing happening on your own site. But it's your site's stats that matter and, if you diverge from the norm as so many do, you may see different patterns which can even open up unexpected opportunities.
But whatever you're seeing, once you've identified sources that send you traffic that is engaged while on your site and returns later, those are the sources on which you want to concentrate in order to build on your strengths.
Can You Figure This Stuff Out Without Chartbeat?
This is a potentially complicated process so I'm drawn to Chartbeat's focus on providing such information in an easy to grasp form. But it's quite possible that your analytics service of choice can do similar things.
For example, since I'm more interested in engagement than site hits, I've used Google Analytics to quickly identify blog posts which get a lot of traffic and then see how long people stay on that page. In the process I've been able to identify clear differences between the posts that inspire engagement and those that only get hits.
But I've never tried to figure out who's most likely to return and what happens when they do. I may be able to do some of that with Google Analytics now that I'm recognizing the importance but I know I could do that with Chartbeat if I'm willing to make the investment.
Here are the key resources I've found from Chartbeat on this topic:
5 Part Series: Understanding Your Traffic Sources
Getting Specific: Audience Building on Vulture.com: A Case Study
Don't forget: You're not average and so the aggregate may not fit your individual situation.
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Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) posts music crowdfunding news @CrowdfundingM. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.