This post originally appeared on Loyal's blog

Loyal is a Community Development Studio. Process-driven and people-centric, they develop bespoke solutions for each of their clients. They've worked on community with a variety of organizations from Fortune 100s and international brands to seed stage startups and politicians. For more information, visit http://loyal.is


If you’ve been following Loyal for a while, you may have noticed that we’ve recently put a considerable amount of attention towards our content, and we’re seeing great results. Most importantly, we’ve seen increased engagement and interactions with members of our community — results tied directly to our goals and values as a company, as we put people at the center of our work. We believe that healthy communities consist of networks of relationships and that content is simply a tool, a vehicle by which to deepen these relationships for community success.

Before diving in, you should check out “The Ultimate Guide to Google Analytics” by Belle Beth Cooper (formerly of Buffer) on Fast Company. It’s a helpful guide for analyzing Google Analytics’ most important metrics, walking through a process very similar to our own. Also, we should mention that much of our growth is due to the redesign of our site in mid-January. 

Where to Start

We always start every endeavor by defining its goals and assessing how they align with our overall business objectives, then breaking them into short-term wins and long-term gains. Beyond seeking to deepen our relationships, our other goals are to: establish ourselves as thought leaders on community design, get in front of brands, and educate our community and a broader audience on the power of designing and leveraging community for business growth. We do this through our blog content, weekly newsletter, curated social content, guest posts, and IRL interactions. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll focus on blog and social content for this post.

Visits

At Loyal, when reporting on the success of our content, we start with the high-level metric of visits and unique visits. Although visits are not the most important metric, they’re a good determinant of the health of our content and site. We then look at the percentage of new visits to determine if our content is bringing people back (this is very important to us) and if we’re successfully growing our audience. In January, we saw a 171% increase in visits, and a 176% increase in unique visits!

Bounce Rates

We do look at bounce rates, but they’re not as critical for us as they would be for an e-commerce company, for example, because although we hope new visitors contact us to learn more, we’re not selling a product on our site. We know that our visitors often come to our site to read a blog post or two, maybe comment, sign up for our newsletter, or contact us, then leave. As long as they interact with the content in some way, we’re happy.

Pages Per Visit + Time on Site

We take a look at pages per visit to determine if visitors are interested enough to click through to other pages from the one they landed on. We also consider the percentage of new visits — it’s one thing if returning visitors are only reading one story, it’s more concerning if new visitors aren’t clicking through. In January, we saw a 38% increase in pages/visitfrom the month prior for an average of 2.3 pages.

Time spent on the site helps determine the level of interest, as well as whether visitors are just skimming or spending a significant amount of time consuming the content. Our average time spent on the site was up 23 seconds in January, with an all-time high of 6:15 the first half of the month due to our new site and blog launch mid-month.


Pageviews and Specific Content Drilldown

Pageviews help determine the success of our content in terms of the number of pages visitors are reading and how many times they’re coming back to the site. We saw a 247% increase in pageviews in January, also due to our site overhaul.

The most important piece of information when analyzing our analytics is what specific content is driving traffic to the site. That is, what’s grabbing the audience’s attention and keeping them there — what they’re finding interesting or of value. In Google Analytics, you can see this by looking at Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages and sort by Unique Pageviews (highest to lowest). From there, you can also see how many people entered the site from specific pages, how much time they spent on it, which pages they left the site from, and what the bounce rate was.

By looking at which posts perform best, we can identify trends in our content that are attracting an audience. Our posts that have performed best, in order of popularity are:

Our site is a little too fresh or new to gleam too much from this, considering how these are our most recent posts. However, we have noticed that our audience is interested in actionable take-aways and quantitative anecdotes. We will continue to keep an eye on which of our content performs best moving forward.

Site Referrers

It’s crucial for us to know where our visitors are coming from so that we allocate our time and resources wisely. By looking at referrers, we can discover where our audience is and what calls to action are successfully attracting them to the site. In Google Analytics, you can see this by selecting Acquisition -> All Referrals. There, you’ll see the number of visits from each referring site, as well as how many were new visits. You can click on each referrer to see which links they drove traffic to on which days. You can then go back and see which Tweets, for example, generated the clicks.

In January, our top referrers with percentage of unique visits were:

  • Twitter: 14%
  • New Site Announcement (via Mailchimp): 11%
  • Loyal.cx (direct): 9%
  • Facebook: 6%
  • Google: 5.4%
  • Newsletter: 5.4%
  • SarahJuddWelch.com: 5%
  • TheCommunityManager.com: 4.5%
  • Lighthouse.io: 3%
  • loyalcx.tumblr.com: 2.6%
  • Tumblr.com: 3%
  • The Fetch: 1.8%

As you can see, our visits are widely distributed with the majority of referrals coming from Twitter and our email marketing campaigns. We should note that this does not take into account business leads and one-off inbound emails. We also only recently began contributing to other blogs and publications. Those sites being in our top ten referrers confirms that this is an activity that we should continue with. Also, we do not have a company Facebook page (because we feel it won’t be as valuable for brands in the future), so it seems that our personal networks play a significant role in attracting visitors.

What All This Means

All of this data helps paint a story for us — a story about our community, our content, and our distribution strategy. By taking all the above information into consideration, we’re able to determine that our new site and blog with original content are successfully attracting new and returning visitors. We know that Twitter is our most successful distribution channel, our personal networks and relationships are high-value, and that we should continue to guest post. We know that there is a significant opportunity to grow these numbers and strengthen our community.

We tend to nerd out over learning more about our community and look forward to seeing what content does and does not resonate with all of you!


About the Author:

Shannon Byrne is the Content Manager + Community Associate at Loyal, where she crafts words and creates community-driven strategies. Florida native turned Brooklynite, she has a passion for writing and a knack for connecting people. Follow her on Twitter @ShannnonB.

Read more stories like this one at http://loyal.is.

Image via GraphicStock

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