Informed audience analysis in real time: How editors and reporters can impact engagement

An article’s post-publishing life is where editors and reporters can use audience analytics to help impact engagement in real time. However, editors need to ensure they’re spending time on pages where they have the greatest opportunity to drive quality traffic to more of their content.

The problem — sites are still built with the desktop experience in mind despite the fact that mobile visitors are outnumbering them. The question then becomes, how do editors assess and diagnose content that is in most need of optimization while balancing a fast-paced news cycle?


Ready to get started? Skip ahead to our Quickstart Guides for editors and reporters.

Quickstart Guide for Editors

Quickstart Guide for Reporters


What real-time data tells us about referrals

Let’s begin to answer this question by looking at referrals. Readers coming from search and social are more likely finish an article than readers that came from your homepage. Those “high intent” audiences tend to read the whole article, but do not move on to a second. This points to poor Recirculation, which deserve more time from editors to be diagnosed and remedied.

(Related: How Recirculation builds engagement, supports reader acquisition efforts)

In contrast, readers that come to your homepage often probably won’t finish one article, but will read more in one visit. As our Senior Director of Customer Education Jill Nicholson says, “They tend to ‘snack’ a lot more than social readers.”

For example, we reviewed over 22,000 articles that were published on Brexit for engagement across search and social audiences.

At first, we saw that Brexit-themed articles performed well with homepage readers over the search and social markets. However, we saw that the dynamics of referral traffic over the course of a topic’s lifetime, driven by reader behavior, such as:

  • The desire for straightforward, factual content via search.
  • More emotional content on social (i.e How does this make me feel? How do I want to discuss this with my social circle?).

(For further reading on this topic: What Brexit Trends Tell Us About How People Read the News)

How editors can turn insights into actions

Here are some improvements editors can take to get more impact in less time:

Give yourself the chance to be nimble. You can’t adapt with the evolving behaviors of readers without the time to experiment and improve tactics. Make an informed judgement on how certain pieces of content should perform using historical data. Then, you’ll be able to get into a rhythm of quickly identifying the issues that require the most attention.

Adapt to evolving reader behaviors. Over the lifetime of articles, audiences transition from reactionary content (found on social or via the homepage) to more specifics on implications or details on a specific topic (search traffic).

See trends faster. Use Chartbeat to filter for authors or sections to check in on performance. If there’s great pieces of content with low Engaged Time, you can quickly identify the cause through Scroll Depth in the Heads Up Display.

Go beyond desktop. Audiences are on the move, so it’s important to make sure they have a mobile view that reflects everything they love about your desktop experience.

Leverage tools designed for editors. Technology helps teams make sure they’re not missing chances to optimize their pages. For one, Chartbeat’s Spike Alerts are built-in reminders that sudden traffic increases to your page are engagement opportunities. There’s even a Slack integration so you won’t miss a chance. Additionally, a quick view of the Heads Up Display across devices can give editors a quick diagnosis of on-page issues such as article placement or fixable image, text, or linking issues.


Quickstart Guide for Editors

Setting up

To get started, install the following tools in Chartbeat using the linked guides:

Getting familiar with Chartbeat data

Now that you have your tools installed, it’s time to start looking at data. Here are some potential topics to keep in mind by tool:

Spike Alerts. See how readers are engaging with your content and whether they are recirculating to your other articles.

Historical Dashboard. Filter by “section” to see if any old stories surfaced and what they have in common.

Heads Up Display. Use the Scroll Depth indicator to see if readers are completing the article. If not, it could be your lede, quote placement, or that information within the article is too complex and needs further explanation.


Quickstart Guide for Reporters

Setting up

To get started, install the following tools in Chartbeat:

  • Real-time dashboard. You can use the Author filter in the top menu to find your byline and receive a custom dashboard. 
  • Historical dashboard. Here, the same filtering options as real time, with more than three months of data on your stories.
  • Spike alerts. Sign up to receive an email alert whenever one of your stories is seeing a bump in traffic from an outside source.
  • Heads Up Display. Get a real-time view of your reader engagement and places where you can make quick adjustments.
  • See trends on mobile — download the app on Android or iOS.

Getting familiar with Chartbeat data

Use these tools to inform some of your most common newsroom questions:

Spike Alerts. Check your byline (author) report via email to determine traffic and engagement trends or if there were social conversations that warrant future reporting.

Historical Dashboard. Why your Engagement numbers are rising or falling and which stories resonated on search/social and what they have in common.

Heads Up Display. Use the Scroll Depth indicator to see devices accessing your articles most and if any patterns emerge in devices where readers find your articles most.


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