Archive for January, 2013

Understanding Engagement Patterns: Mobile vs. Desktop Users

January 30th, 2013 by Josh

Chartbeat's TotalTotal is something I can watch forever — I never stop being amazed when I see just how much traffic we're measuring at any given moment. Self-congratulating aside, I want us to take a look at one number on this screen that should stand out to you. total_total_mobile As I'm writing this, the mobile traffic we're measuring is sitting at about 3.5% of total traffic, and that's pretty standard for us. By contrast, most estimates out there put mobile traffic as having around a 20% share of total traffic. That's a pretty substantial difference, and it made me want to take a closer look at what's going on. What I found has some interesting implications for how you should look at your numbers and how you might think about your mobile user experience.

How Chartbeat measures

The answer begins with what numbers are being used to generate those percentages. Most estimates of mobile traffic are based on page views — when people say 20% of traffic is mobile, they mean that 20% of page views are happening in mobile browsers.

As you know, at Chartbeat, we measure in concurrents – the number of active browser visits on a site at a given time. Concurrents take into account both how many people visit a site and how long they stick around. What does that mean exactly? Imagine that one new user comes to your site every second for a period of 10 seconds. If each of those ten people bounces immediately, then there’s always just one user on your site (the one who came that specific second), so we’d measure one concurrent. If each person stays for a whole minute, though, there are 10 users on your site after 10 seconds, so we’d measure 10 concurrents. In both of these scenarios, the number of page views would be the same – ten page views– regardless of whether the visitors left immediately or stuck around.

Concurrents aren’t limited to examining the quantity of traffic, and consider the quality of your visitors as well. We’re further able to break down concurrents into more categories based on whether users are engaged or idle, but more on that in a bit. Let’s go back to mobile: if around 4% of concurrents are mobile but 20% of page views are mobile it must mean that mobile users are spending less time on pages.

The mobile vs desktop user dilemma

Naturally, the next question is: what makes mobile users’ time-on-page so much lower than their desktop compatriots?

One major difference between mobile and desktop traffic is that mobile users rarely go idle: a page is either the single open, active page on the device (in which case we’re measuring the user as an engaged concurrent on that page) or closed (in which case we’re not measuring them at all, since they’re no longer there). By contrast, desktop users frequently open tabs, leave them idle, and come back to them over and over, which means desktop users cycle between being measured as engaged and idle concurrents. Almost all mobile concurrents are engaged, while most desktop concurrents at any given point are idle. So, when we look at the pool of concurrent users, there are many more idle concurrents from desktop than from mobile.

What you need to know

I think there are two big takeaways here:

1) Compare apples to apples.

Since almost all mobile users are engaged, if you’re using data from our APIs to determine in real time how much of your traffic is mobile, you should probably be comparing your mobile concurrents to your engaged concurrents (which includes engaged mobile and desktop users) rather than total concurrents.

When we look at the ratio of mobile concurrents to engaged concurrents, we get a number that’s similar to page view figures (around 20%), but with all of the advantages of the concurrent as a real-time measure.
2) Design with the mobile user in mind.
More importantly, the difference in engagement patterns between mobile and desktop is critical when thinking about your site design. On desktop, one very common behavior is for a user to leave your homepage open and idle all day and occasionally come back to read and open stories, and there’s simply no equivalent behaviour on mobile. In terms of metrics, this means for mobile pages (and pages with a high proportion of mobile traffic) you should concentrate even more on pushing your engaged time numbers as high as possible. For a mobile user, when you’ve got their attention you really have it, but when you lose it, you really lose it — plan your site accordingly.

What about all of those idle users on desktops, though?

Of course, there's another side to this data: at any given moment, many of your desktop users are idle. That might seem like cause for concern, but I'd argue that it shouldn't be. Desktop users flip in and out of being idle, returning to your tabbed-out site page and then leaving it in the background again — that's just part of the process of browsing on a desktop. To analyze the specifics of that process, I pulled a sample of about 100,000 page sessions and found some interesting stuff:
  • Of those 100,000 sessions, 54% involved the user going idle for some part of the session
  • But critically, once a user went idle for the first time, they spent an average of 46 more seconds reading that page later in the session
  • So, the bulk of their reading actually happened after going idle for the first time.
So, don't think about idle users as a lost cause; they're just people who aren't currently reading. We've also noticed an interesting property of users' browsing behavior: The amount of time that people spend idle on landing pages actually correlates positively with their likelihood of returning to your site on future days.  If you want to know what sites a person visits over and over every day, looking at their idle tabs will probably give you a pretty good set of guesses. We're doing a huge amount of research focusing much more on this detail exactly — analyzing exactly what types of browsing predict a person's likelihood of returning to your site — so stay tuned. As always, feel free to post your questions or ideas in the comments section below.

The Whole Point of Social Traffic

January 28th, 2013 by Doug

Chartbeat Publishing: Exploring the Social View
As a member of the Chartcorps, our Chartbeat Publishing clients ask me all the time how they should be using the Social View. What are best practices, what are the other guys using it for and to what effect, that kind of stuff. In a nutshell, the Social View helps you understand more about why readers are sharing your articles, what they're talking about in relation to you and your content offsite, and how you can instantly spot every possible opportunity to grow your audience.  

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Social View 101
The Social View shows you how people are sharing your content on Twitter and Facebook. You have a feed in your dashboard of everyone who’s promoting your story and how they’re doing so. You can put a face to your legions of fans. But more than that - and of course more important than that - you know who is advocating for you and can act as a content guide for you. The content that resonates with your core audience will bring them back again and again leading to not just return visits, but a loyal audience. And every article is an opportunity to build those loyalists.
Readers connecting with your content
With the Social View, you have insider access to the conversation surrounding your story – why people find it interesting, what elements of the story are compelling enough that people are sharing that link. Sure, you can always look at the comments section on your page, but with the Social View you’re not limited just to your commenting audience, which is generally a small portion of the most outspoken in the bunch - you can see everyone who’s tweeting a link to that story. This gives you a real sense of the relationships readers are establishing with your content and therefore you (read: more loyalists.) 

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It's all about tactical insights
Knowing who loves your content, who's sharing it, and when doesn't amount to more than a pat on the back - unless you do something about it. The data you’re getting from your Social View helps you execute on your content strategy. Once your story’s out in the world, it's time for you to make some key, traffic-driving decisions. Maybe your story’s current title doesn’t reflect why your readers find that story compelling (your concurrents are lower than you know they should be), so you could switch in a new headline that relates to those specific story points that your Twitter fam is calling out most. Or maybe, in response to a specific point your readers are hung up on, you can edit that piece to add some clarification or further insights or get a followup piece up and live ASAP. There are always ways to build on the dialogue your initial story started - the beauty of the social web means news is never finished. Chartbeat data's just like a compass for your editorial strategy. You can't possibly pay 100% attention to every scroll, every tweet, every share - but Social View points you to the ones you do need to see, the impact makers, the audience builders. But share in the comments how you've used social traffic and to what effect. And as always, feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions.    

(Re)Introducing Replay

January 22nd, 2013 by Alex Carusillo

Real time is pretty great, right? It can be a complex tool that helps inform future action or it can be a simple, visceral thing that just feels totally awesome (and watching a page flood with traffic is totally awesome.) But the issue with real time is that you're not always on in real time. I mean, really, at some point you've got to set aside the stats and go to sleep. And when something happens when you're not around - from your site going crazy in the middle of the night to  a subtle shift in your traffic when you're out to lunch - you might miss it entirely. But that stuff is just too important (or too fun) to not see outside the moment. So we went to the vault and pulled out an idea from one of our earliest dashboards... a way for you to re-watch your past week as if it's live. Think of it as a a DVR for your site. To check it out on your page head to the Content View and click the "Today/7 Day" toggle in the upper right. The graph on top will break free from its old 24-hour confines and show you everything that's happened over the past week. Now that you've got that look, go ahead and drag your cursor over the graph - yup, that's your traffic at that exact moment and the traffic from the previous week, making it super easy to know if you're in the middle of something unusual or its just a normal variation. "Context," it's totally the best, right?

But okay, ready? The cool stuff is about to really start. Try this - instead of hovering on that graph, go ahead and click and drag your cursor over a range you want to watch again. We'll kick you into our "replay" mode and actually show you what your dashboard looked like at that moment in time. That way you can get the kids out of bed, hook up the big screen, and watch how your pages changed, who was sending them traffic, and what specific pages were doing what. Even better you can pause at any time to take a closer look and step through that old data slice-by-slice.

So that's it! No more wondering exactly what happened while you were away. You can sleep the night away in peace, take an even longer lunch; you deserve it. All you've got to do is click a button and you can find out everything you missed. And if you want all the details about how this works, take a look at our FAQs or feel free, as always, to shoot me an email at alex@chartbeat.com.

3 Tips in 5 Minutes: How to Build Your Audience in Real Time with Chartbeat Publishing

January 16th, 2013 by Ben M.

While the learning curve for Chartbeat Publishing should take under a minute – it's awesomely intuitive in that way – there are a few extra tips and tricks that make that mastering the ancient art of Chartbeat Publishing an even more successful adventure, especially when it comes to learning strategies to grow your readership.

Our frequent dev cycles here at Chartbeat mean the scope of our real-time world is always evolving to expand the frontiers of real time’s potential, but also to meet the needs of our client-partners. We’re learning that it’s increasingly important to help our clients find new ways to drive value – and find that value very quickly.

As a member of the Product Outreach team, I help our clients spot ways to increase the quality of their content, so their audience comes back again and again - spotting those precious value-driving moments in he dashboard. Studying for decades (poetic license allows for slight exaggeration, right?) under our education guru, I have learned to be the dashboard. Now, I'll teach you a few tricks, grasshopper. Take these ideas out for a spin; they’re all quick and effective ways to increase your traffic (and your content’s value).

1. Find an article with a high average Engaged Time and low internal traffic, then relocate it on your site.

Why? Articles with high Engaged Time averages are the most generous in terms of pushing users deeper into your site – they keep more active eyes on your content for longer periods of time. But content with low internal traffic (traffic coming from other pages in your site vs. from off your site through social, SEO, etc.) probably means people on your site aren’t seeing that super-engaging piece. So a high-engagement-low-traffic story is a huge opportunity to get your most loyal readers reading. How? Organize your top pages by “most engaging”. Click through those articles until you find an article with low internal traffic.

Then what? Now that you’ve found your all-star content, relocate that story above the fold on your homepage or a place on the page where you know that story can gain some well-deserved readership.

2. Find a popular social article and cross-promote it across other social networks.

Why? The same guy who gets his news from Twitter is probably going to click an article that pops up in his Facebook newsfeed, right? Readers from similar referral sources are going to absorb similar content – you probably do it every day without even noticing it. How? Sort your top pages using “Social” as the referrer. Find the article with the highest percentage of traffic from “Social”. Click into that article to find its most popular social source.

Then what? Promote the story across other social platforms (for instance if an article is popular on Facebook, then push it out on Twitter or your next email newsletter). Spread the social media love.

3. Optimize your referral channels to "complete the rainbow."

Why? If all of your traffic isn't coursing equivalently through your various referral channels (links, social, search and direct) you're missing those traffic-exploding opportunities. How? At the general site level, look at how you’re allocating resources towards promoting your social, search, or link traffic efforts. Put your audience-building hat on and reprioritize for the future -- assign more resources to a certain channel if you see disparities in the ways you’re generating traffic.

At the article level, simply click on various articles and see where the bulk of your traffic is coming from, and get creative! Maybe you’re falling a little short in your Twitter referrals, or perhaps you can focus on that new link partnership you've been dreaming about.

Then what? Prioritize and organize. Then kick back, you’re generating equal traffic from all possible sources, you’re not missing a thing! Want more tips? We’ve got more where these came from- drop me an emailOr maybe you’ve got a better idea up your sleeve– share your brilliant ideas in the comments section below.

World, Meet the Chartcorps.

January 7th, 2013 by Jenna

Well, hello there!

We're the Chartcorps - we are all things education, support, at-your-service for every one of Chartbeat's thousands of clients. We eat, sleep, and breathe every aspect of our products and features and the data world at large.

Are we constantly looking for ways to make our products better and even more helpful for our users? Of course. Do we try to go above and beyond to answer your questions and make our client partners happy? Duh. Do we sometimes dream about answering emails? Maybe. What of it? The point is that we’re there when you need us most, even when you don't even realize it yet. And we're weirdly obsessed with doing it.

So, I figured you might want to know who you're talking to when you email us or call us or tweet at @Chartcorps. Also because we're a handsome bunch and these faces should be shared with the world.

What's up, Doug? Doug once upon a time researched bats and neuroscience, but he realized his true calling was where he spent most of his time anyway - the internet. He's spent a lot of quality time hanging out in newsrooms and is focusing on the growth of the Chartcorps. Say hi to Doug. He's great.



     

Greetings Jenna! Jenna focuses on the Chartbeat product. You've probably already received a phone call or email from her checking in on how you're doing and how much you're loving Chartbeat or how much you want to change the product. If you haven't heard from her yet, let her know you want to – she's always happy to chat. Her jam is identifying trends in all the feedback you guys send us, so that we can improve the product in the way you want it.

 

Heya, David. David (also known as DVD) came to Chartbeat from the world of digital preservation, free-format radio, and documentary production. Yeah, we're quite the varied bunch. When he’s not hanging out with our Chartbeat Publishing clients, he troubleshoots code implementations and juggles snacks. Seriously. Tell him you want video proof.

 

What is Chartcorps

We've established that we're obsessed with data, but what exactly is this team all about? Dedicated to education and support, we nerds think of ourselves as the bridge between our clients and our product. We make sure that every one of your wants, needs, and wishes are heard and represented in all areas of Chartbeat. We work directly with the Product team, and every single one of us gets a copy of every single email that you guys send us. We make sure you're heard loud and clear.

We’re the first to admit that our dashboards are mesmerizing to watch. But it’s Chartcorps’s job to make sure all you guys actually know how to use the data we provide. Chartbeat isn’t just really, really, ridiculously good looking– it’s a real-time data tool that works incredibly hard on the backend so you see the understandable, meaningful date you can act on. You need to be able to use Chartbeat to make decisions every day, hour, and minute based on our data. We make sure you can.

What we do

Nothing makes us happier than knowing that Chartbeat users are kicking ass with our data and products. We get so excited for you when your traffic is taking off or your engaged time is through-the-roof. And we also care a lot a lot when things aren't going so well -- we’re the people to call if you have any issues, need some advice, or just want to chat about your dashboard.

Just like throughout the 2012 US Presidential Election Day – we were all over email and Twitter making sure our clients had their concurrents traffic caps lifted when they needed it and the general support they needed to get through the many many many hours of coverage. We’re not just on-call for anticipated traffic bursts, we’ve got your back for unexpected spikes and hiccups.

One of my favorite things we do is offer free weekly online workshops. They're open to current clients, former clients, and anyone who wants to talk about our products and features or data in general. While these sessions usually give you a crash course on your dashboard, the agenda is totally open to whatever you want to talk about. It's like real-time data therapy, minus the couch.

Basically, we don't believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. We've built our team to address your specific needs. So if you're a big-time publisher using Chartbeat Publishing, we're not giving you the same training as our pal John and his niche beer blog because you have totally different needs. We'll work hand-in-hand, well, at least desk-to-desk with your editors to train them for what each discrete team will face - whether they work on the homepage, edit specific sections, run social media, we'll do individual sessions, discussions, check ins, best practices sharing, etc. that are tailored to those roles.

Chartcorps 2012 Stats

We were busy bees last year, but we're anticipating doubling, tripling, quintgoogletupling our efforts in 2013.

  • Number of Chartbeat webinars: 39
  • Number of Chartbeat Publishing trainings: 219
  • Number of issues solved via email: 5,171
  • Number of team members: 3 (and growing)

What’s in store for 2013

Oh, man. Where to begin. We have major plans to improve and grow our specially created support systems and education programming. We’re pumped about expanding our workshops, updating our FAQs into a full-blown experience center and adding more awesome faces to the Chartcorps, so join us!

Get in touch

Feel free to hit us up whenever. Email us at chartcorps@chartbeat.com or tweet us @Chartcorps if 140 characters are more your style.