Defining your unique benchmarks for success

Stories garner traffic at different paces depending on whether they are breaking news or features, old or new, national or local, and the list goes on. With such differences, how do you ensure you are measuring success appropriately and giving each story the opportunity to thrive?

As a Customer Success Manager at Chartbeat I am afforded the unique opportunity to partner with publishers around the world and help them craft nuanced strategies that incorporate richer metrics. One of the key challenges we are helping customers solve for is to develop custom success benchmarks for different categories of stories. So how are some top publishers finding and implementing these unique benchmarks?

Where Chartbeat comes in

We are seeing many newsrooms use Chartbeat data to take a more nuanced approach to measurement. To achieve this, our customers are putting the Chartbeat reporting suite to work by creating custom benchmarks that factor in a wide variety of article characteristics. One of our most sophisticated customers in the U.K., an established network of local news sites, introduced a concept called the “Three Minute League” to identify standout pieces of content. The Three Minute League is reserved for articles that meet two criteria: they achieve an average Engaged Time of at least three minutes AND 10,000 unique visitors within the first two days of being published. The Three Minute League is compiled on a section-by-section basis to control for variation in evergreen versus breaking news coverage and other nuances, and was developed after careful evaluation and consideration of a baseline metric.

Find your baseline

To replicate this idea, you’ll need to create a few reports in Chartbeat’s Advanced Queries tool. Your Customer Success Manager is a great resource for this exercise and is always happy to help consult on custom benchmarks. First, you’ll need to establish a baseline by measuring average content performance across a set of characteristics like article type and subject, broken out by key attributes like average Engaged Time and the percent of pageviews coming from loyal visitors. We recommend running this report month-over-month while also evaluating the long-term trends to mitigate factors like large increases in traffic due to massive breaking news days.

Set your goals & continue to measure

Once you’ve established a baseline, we recommend starting with an aggressive, but realistic, goal. For example, if an average story in the education section achieves about 2,000 uniques and 40 seconds of Engaged Time, then a super-premium education story might be 25% above average, therefore achieving 2500 uniques and 50 seconds of Engaged Time.

You might be wondering what then publishers actually do with their super-premium content. The answer is that it really depends. Evergreen publishers might feature super-premium content more heavily in their newsletter programming, where a large constituency of their loyal audience is discovering content. Others might take these articles as an indication of what topics to continue writing about. Publishers might also feature these types of stories more prominently on the homepage, or double down on their promotion on social media. The possibilities are endless, and the data is there to help guide the way.

As always, it’s important that you continue to use and iterate on these benchmarks going forward. I suggest continuing to pull this report every week to identify your super-premium articles and discover any other trends that can help you boost article performance for the week ahead. Then, make sure that you’re communicating the information out to your wider team. Helping everyone in your newsroom understand reader and content performance trends is key to ensuring that the whole team is aligned around the same benchmarks for success.

Your Customer Success Manager is an extension of your team, and they are standing by to help you create custom benchmarks of your own so that you can put your audience data to work in new and innovative ways. We also love to hear what you’re doing to define success at your organizations and how you’re putting your Chartbeat data to work.


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