Archive for the ‘Know Our Products’ Category

Headline Test to Success

February 13th, 2017 by Jill

In case you missed it, we recently held a live webinar on how to optimize your homepage and use Engaged Headline Testing to its full advantage. Check out the recording here.

We all know that a headline can make or break your stories, but given all the competition for reader attention, your ability to write engaging headlines is critical to your audience’s health. Audience data can help with headline writing, but at the end of the day, it’s more art than science. Metrics are there to supplement your news judgement — not replace it. By experimenting, we learn more about how to connect with our audience.

Make the most of your homepage audience with Chartbeat’s Heads Up Display and Engaged Headline Testing tools. By combining your own editorial expertise with real-time performance metrics, you can maximize the effectiveness of your content, get to know your audience on a deeper level, and promote your content with headlines that you know are more likely to grab — and keep — readers’ attention.

The first step is to identify headlines you want to test. Choose the stories that will have the most impact on your readers:

  • Test in high-traffic areas: Optimize the marquee areas on your site to make the best use of your time. It can be tempting to test every single headline, but time is limited, so make it count. Stick to the top of the homepage.
  • Fix your underperformers: Chartbeat’s digital overlay will alert you in real time if one of your headlines isn’t performing as well as it should. That doesn’t mean the story is bad — it means you need a new headline. Perfect opportunity to test.
  • Spend extra time on your high-value journalism: Getting readers to click on the mayhem stories — the bleeders, the burners, the scandals — is easy. Getting them to click on serious, investigative journalism is hard. The deeper stories need the right headline to accomplish their purpose of informing readers. We spend more time to produce these stories. Let’s give them some love after they’re published.

Once you’ve decided where to test, keep these six tips in mind to make the most out of every experiment you conduct:

  • Always be testing: Since there’s no limit on how many experiments you can run at the same time with our Engaged Headline Testing tool, you always have the opportunity to learn from your audience’s behavior. Our research shows that the winning headline in a five variant experiment typically has more than a 50% higher CTR than the average headline, whereas you may only see a 23% benefit for a standard A/B test – so the more options you test, the better!
  • Know which audience you’re testing: Homepage audiences are usually loyal, visit often, and know what to expect, whereas social visitors tend to be new and interested in the buzz of the moment, so it’s likely they’ll prefer different headlines.
  • Don’t stop tests prematurely: It might be tempting to stop a test when one headline quickly takes the lead, but you’re likely to see cases where the tides shift halfway through the experiment and the initial success trails off.  
  • Don’t get discouraged by ties: It’s possible that two great headlines are attracting similar levels of engagement. If you’re frequently seeing similar results, it might be that the headlines you’re testing are too similar.
  • Keep track of what works: We found that a lot of the common headline-writing tips, such as  “Use terse, punchy headlines”; “Ask questions”; “Name drop.” showed little to no significant results in their ability to capture audience attention, but that that headlines with direct quotes are 14% more likely to win headline tests than average headlines – does this hold true for your audience?
  • Don’t forget to follow through: That’s why we’ve made you this fun headline test tracking template to keep you more organized than the Container Store.

Check out a full recording of the webinar here, download our Headline Testing Insider Guide here, and reach out to for more information.

Here at Chartbeat, we’ve always focused on helping you understand where your audience is spending their time on your site – but we know that’s not the full story on how they’re engaging with your content. It’s a social world out there, folks, and our newest feature, Offsite Social, pipes your CrowdTangle data directly into your real-time dashboard so you can see an end-to-end look at a story’s performance – spanning both your home-base and top social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

For those of us in the weeds everyday, this enhancement offers the simple yet significant value of tool consolidation, as well as providing even deeper insights into your audience. These insights are all pulled together, both on and off-site, in one familiar space, so it’s easier – and quicker – to make strategic decisions on how to connect with your audience. No more need to click between two interfaces.

If you’re an author, journalist, content creator, or anything in between, Offsite Social not only shows you how much your content is being shared and discussed, but also offers an instant opportunity for you to interact with your readers and join the conversation.

As you experiment with new opportunities to capitalize on your content’s popularity around the web, put these best practices to work and see how they enhance your perspective on what it means to build an audience in a distributed-content world.

  1. Boost your reach and build a loyal following
    Quickly locate the platforms and niche audiences where your stories are resonating and identify dialogues worth engaging in: answer audience questions, clarify any concerns related to the topic, share related content to spark ongoing interest, target influencers to follow and evangelize them – maybe they’ll lead you to your next story!

  2. Drive more visitors back to your site
    Ultimately, the goal with social readers should be to convert them into a loyal audience. If they have a good experience when they visit, they’re more likely to visit you, even directly, again.

    For high performing articles, quickly package and post similar stories to make the most of the momentum you’ve developed. If you can get a visitor from Facebook to click onto one extra article within their visit, they are twice as likely to return the next week.
  3. Get more milage out of existing content
    Seeing any Zombies in the dashboard (old stories coming back to life unexpectedly)? Your audience might be regaining interest, or maybe it’s an opportunity to gain new followers.

    If an article has high social activity, but low on-site engagement, something needs to change. The topic and promotion is attractive, but the onsite experience isn’t delivering. Should you change the art? The layout? Is the lead buried? Use the Heads Up Display to gauge scroll behavior and adjust accordingly—regardless of the device your audience is using.

  4. Experiment with social momentums in real-time.
    Looking to increase your Facebook-referred traffic? The best thing you can do is to first foster organic traction around the story, before you push on your branded page. Identify and engage influencers pre-push and use the dashboard to gauge if the timing is right.

    Engaging your social audience will present other simple yet valuable opportunities as well. Are people using different naming conventions? Consider mimicking their abbreviations and nicknames for people and places. New angles might be uncovered in social conversations that inform on-site headlines and leads.


Understand the day-to-day social momentum of your articles in the context of your onsite content performance to sharpen your own editorial instincts, and combine it with a 360-degree view into how people are talking about and sharing your content across social media and adapt your social media strategies to close the social news gap.

Our goal here at Chartbeat is to arm content creators with the right insights at the right time. But since we know not all newsrooms operate the same way we’ve created a suite of tools that can work for each team in each newsroom.

When it comes to delivering the data you need to inform your editorial strategies, tools like the real-time Dashboard or Heads Up Display take your data and present it in an intuitive design, while others, such as Report Builder and our API endpoints, give you the freedom to put your data to use any way you want.

Report Builder allows you to dig deep into Chartbeat metrics, some of which aren’t available in the dashboard, to uncover historical trends in your audience behavior. Its clean, approachable interface helps editors who don’t have a lot of time, but do have a lot of questions about historical performance that can be answered using data. By returning CSV reports, Report Builder gives you a more raw look at just the numbers and lets you track organizational and individual goals, behaviors, or trends across long periods of time.


One of the most recent Report Builder use cases I helped a client work though was calculating lost video revenue when tracking metrics on video domains. Report Builder’s powerful design allows you to download the data into an easy to manipulate spreadsheet — all you need is the number of video loads, video plays, and video CPM and voila: you’ve just merged editorial and business insights together.


Focusing in on using each Chartbeat tool to its fullest potential is how you’ll stay one step ahead of your competitors — and if you’re having trouble working through creating customized reports that fit your needs, just reach out to your Customer Success Manager.

But Report Builder, like almost all applications, has to get the data it reports on from somewhere. When you enter parameters in the interface and click the ‘generate report’ button, Report Builder takes the parameters you selected and packages them together into a single request for information. That request is sent to an API where it’s returned with the requested chunk of data. An API endpoint is just an outlet where specific requests for information are processed and returned.  

For example, the newest feature in Chartbeat’s real-time dashboard, Offsite Social, uses CrowdTangle’s API to get a list of instances where a given post was shared over social media. When you click into one of your top pages, our dashboard calls CrowdTangle’s API to deliver that information directly into the dashboard. In short, APIs help automate and deliver data to different applications.

While a constructed user interface helps people leverage API endpoints to accomplish specific tasks, many of our clients large and small go straight to the source and use the Chartbeat APIs to enhance their sites through trending content and recommendation modules. In fact, this was such a popular use case that during one of our hackweeks we created a pre-packaged plugin that pulls the top five articles from the user’s current section (ranked by engaged time) and surfaces them in a widget.

This widget, displayed live on your content site, recommends other stories users may be interested in to promote recirculation, or reading onto a second article page, which ultimately influences audience loyalty.


The possibilities with the Chartbeat API are almost endless, and while the above example cites real-time articles, the pre-packaged widget could easily be populated with content that did well in the past. We also find that some of our largest and most tech savvy customers are using our APIs to power homegrown internal dashboards that surface the metrics they care most about, exactly the way they want to see them.

This way they can surface Chartbeat insights alongside other data sources, like financial information, to produce a complete picture of their organization from commercial to editorial. The one caveat is that setting up the APIs requires some developer chops. If you need deep insights, but you don’t usually find yourself wearing noise-cancelling headphones and staring at endless lines of code, Report Builder is the tool for you.

Chartbeat’s real-time and historical toolsets is all about empowering you with data: whether that’s through a UI we created or something you’ve created exclusively for you.

In our technology-fueled world it’s no secret that mobile devices like smartphones and tablets have changed the way people find and consume content.

A few years ago you could probably get away with a single, responsive site that served the same content to desktop and mobile readers. But with competing publishers, social networking apps, distributed platforms, and dragging load times, a single site is no longer enough to hold the attention of your audience.

If you want to optimize reader experience, you have to pay attention to each of these factors.

To start, it helps to understand the nuances of each of your mobile audiences. In your Chartbeat Publishing Dashboard, the first way to get a sense of your mobile audience is with the device type pivot. This filters your Dashboard to show you just people who are on your site right now using a mobile device. But does that mean they’re all experiencing your content in the same way?

If someone is reading an article on your site, there’s two versions that they could be on. The first is the actual version of the article that’s hosted by you, on your site, and the other option is a Facebook Instant Article, a version that keeps the user within the actual Facebook app, but serves an article that’s enhanced to load up to ten times faster.

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 10.43.30 AM

But what does that mean for how your readers engage?

We’ve talked already about simulating your audience’s experience to combat mobile drop-off, but you can still use your Chartbeat toolset to get even more information around these more nuanced audience groups. A client that I work with recently asked me if I thought investing in Facebook Instant Articles was worth it, so we got on a call and talked through how I’d solve that problem.

We reasoned that FBIA would be ‘worth it’ if people being served content via Facebook’s app are engaging more than people actually on your site who were simply referred by Facebook due to the improved site experience. A few simple Dashboard pivots are enough to get to the bottom of that question: pivot on FBIA, and compare to the pivot on the Facebook referrer.

Making this comparison once in real-time isn’t exactly data science, but you can quickly see how much further you can take this. Maybe you setup a recurring report in Report Builder to make this comparison on a monthly basis. Over time, you might find some surprising results.


Mobile engagement offers a tremendous opportunity for publishers to better connect with the audiences that matter most to them. Chartbeat’s suite of tools are here to help point you in the right direction when making important decisions around data – you just have to know where to look.

If you’re interested in learning more about mobile distribution and how to take advantage of them, just shoot us a note at


If you’re anything like me, your phone is glued to your hand almost 24/7. Mobile browsing is the quickest and most convenient way to stay up to date on everything happening around the world that interests me. It always feels like there’s never enough time in my day, so I use every extra minute – whether I’m standing in line at the grocery store, or on my way to work – to tackle the long list of reads that accrues daily.

Often it’s a piece a friend posted on Facebook or I’ll find myself on a new website by way of an article a co-worker dropped in Slack. Once I’ve finished reading, I go back to Facebook or Slack in search of the next thing that catches my eye. But why should I look further than where I already am? As a publisher, you should do your best to keep reader attention once they’re on your site.

In other words, interest readers in some other content within your site, otherwise they’ll just to go back to Facebook. 

We consume content on mobile in an entirely different way than on a desktop computer, so if you want to ensure your mobile audience keeps reading, first understand the different behavior then adapt a strategy that gives visitors opportunities to keep reading on your site, rather than giving them time to look elsewhere for the next piece of content they’ll read.

This is easier to do than you may think. All you need is Chartbeat’s Heads Up Display and your browser’s Developer Tools to simulate your visitors’ mobile experience.

Take a look at the desktop and mobile view of the article below. Desktop readers have several pieces they can easily click into from the right hand rail but that disappears for mobile users and gets pushed to the bottom of the page where the majority of visitors don’t even get to.

desktop-view mobile-view

So how can you see your site through your readers’ eyes to combat mobile drop-off?

  1. Load the Heads Up Display on the page where you want to mimic a mobile experience.
  2. Access DevTools by opening the Chrome menu at the top-right of your browser window, then select More Tools > Developer Tools.
  3. Toggle device toolbar and select the device that you want to mimic.
    Note: If you’re not using Google Chrome you can still emulate device types — that functionality is built into most modern browsers. Check out these instructions for Firefox, for Safari, and for Internet Explorer.

  4. Pivot on Mobile in the Heads Up Display dock to use the scroll depth indicator to inform where you can strategically place links and recommend other stories. Reminder: to expand the bars along the left, click on the scroll depth indicator.


And you don’t have to do this for every piece of content on your site. Pivot on mobile in your Chartbeat Dashboard and pick out the top performing pieces throughout the day and start with those. Make it easy for your mobile visitors to read more and more of the content you worked hard to create!

I hear from my clients all the time how using Chartbeat tools helps them reinforce their editorial instincts and develops a culture of data in their newsroom. Refining your content promotion strategy to pay special attention to the devices people are using can start slow, but will serve you well in the long run. As technology continues to evolve there will only be more devices and platforms that your audience will use to consume your content, and if optimizing reader experience is already one of your tried and true habits, you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors.