Archive for the ‘Know Our Products’ Category

Chartcorps Challenge: Make the Most of Your Social Traffic

April 9th, 2014 by James

chartcorps-challenge

Wait! Before you tweet that awesome story, think: Have you done everything you can to capitalize on the instant exposure? With your Chartbeat Publishing Dashboard as your trusty sidekick, you can find the best content to share in terms of audience and Engaged Time before you ever post or tweet, and then watch the traffic roll in real-time. But you should also make sure those stories are optimized for the best experience of those who visit. Let's consider an example. We pivoted to see what Gizmodo's new visitors were reading, and noticed the top article: "If You Want to Watch Game of Thrones, Maybe Just Pay For It."

Chartbeat_Publishing_-_Dashboard

Of course, you would pick this story, maybe fine-tune the headline, and then whip up a witty tweet, but you might also want to take a minute to set up the best page possible for this new audience. Don’t miss this opportunity! Before you take that story to the tweeple, spend a minute curating it for the influx of new traffic that we’re sure to see. Start by loading up the page in the Heads Up Display and then find your digital fold, i.e. "most visitors don't read past here." Then, embed links to related content that you know will lead to more recirculation and increased engagement. Notice how Gizmodo got its related links above the fold here?

gizmodo-hud

If you have related on-topic stories that could help drive your visitors deeper into your website, embed 'em! You could add links in line with the text, or as part of a separate breakout box—both of which are employed by Gizmodo here. How about your other acquiring content that’s doing particularly well with your new audience? Put your links in great positions, and then maybe add a picture and snappy headline for good measure.

Check out last week's Chartcorps Challege: "Zombies! What to Do When Newly Undead Articles Walk Again."

Do everything you can to promote extra content that’s likely to do best before you share. Then tweet it out, and watch the traffic grow in real-time. Don’t forget, once you’ve got folks rolling in, revist the links on the page, continue to curate around the best performance, and keep tweaking until the tweets lived its short 140-character life. Rather than tweeting and hoping, take control. With the Heads Up Display and Chartbeat Publishing Dashboard, you’re able to react rapidly, increasing the odds that these fresh faces come back again soon.

Chartcorps Challenge: Developing Your Website’s New, Returning & Loyal Visitors

March 19th, 2014 by Clara

chartcorps-challenge

Growing an audience is about doing two things: getting new visitors in the door and getting them to come back. Many websites can successfully pull off one of the two, but it’s far more difficult pulling off both. If your goal as a publisher is to convert your fly-by visitors into die-hard loyalists, then you need to successfully meet both challenges. That’s where we come in.

Take a look at your Chartbeat Publishing Dashboard's “visitor frequency” module:

visitor-frequency

As you can see here, there are currently 7,734 new visitors, 8,424 returning visitors, and 6,274 loyal visitors on this website. Here's a quick refresher on those definitions: New visitors are the folks in your audience who are visiting the site for the first time in at least 30 days. Loyal visitors have visited on eight or more days of the last 16 days. And returning visitors fall somewhere in between; they've been here recently, but not with enough frequency to be considered loyal. Understanding the composition of your audience is key. Here’s why:

Often times, a website will have a high number of new visitors and a low number of loyal visitors, as is the case here. That means the website is doing a great job attracting new visitors, but it needs to work harder to bring folks back again. If you’re in this camp, you need to develop a retention strategy. Even a simple newsletter can go a long way.

Conversely, a website might face the opposite challenge: a low number of new visitors and a high number of loyal visitors. That means there’s a solid core audience, but the website isn’t doing enough to broaden that base of loyalists. That requires the development of an acquisition strategy, and a stronger social media presence might be in order.

Of course, as you click to pivot on any one of these segments, you might notice that different articles or types of content are resonating among each segment. In other words, some content may do a great job of attracting new visitors whereas some pieces may sustain your loyal readers. To go one step further, you can look at the composition of your audience as it relates to the sections of your website. For example, Sports readers may come every day during football season, but Opinion readers may only come through Facebook once a week.

So, how does your audience stack up? Let us know at support@chartbeat.com.

Want to learn more about how to use Chartbeat Publishing to grow your audience? The Chartcorps is hosting a "Audience 101" webinar on Thursday, March 27 at 1 p.m. EST. Sign up now.

The Role of Research in Building the New Chartbeat Publishing, Part 2

December 6th, 2013 by Adam

A quick recap of Part I of this post…
  • We knew Chartbeat Publishing was strained by UX debt
  • We were psyched to introduce some major new functionality into the product
  • We knew that we had to consolidate all our research and fill in knowledge gaps before the full design and dev process
  • We were working out of a glorified bomb shelter next to a demolition site, an atmosphere of adversity which likely hastened our eagerness to redesign

The research effort culminated in the construction of a massive affinity diagram or mental model, which neatly organized all of the chaos of a newsroom into a taxonomy of actions and behaviours. The top level of the mental model consisted of four main categories:

  1. Developing content - actions associated with actually creating content
  2. Assessing content - actions associated with measuring traffic to content
  3. Assessing audience - actions associated with measuring identity and quality of traffic
  4. Developing audience - actions associated with systematically building audience

Taking a look at the mental model, the “developing content” and “assessing content” categories were fairly concise. We had a pretty thorough understanding of the workflows, processes, and product opportunities. But for “assessing audience” and “developing audience,” things were a little murkier. There were a myriad of complex activities that seemed disorganized and in need of rationalization — we had unearthed all kinds of social media tricks and hacks, experiments in link partnerships, attempts to infiltrate Reddit, newsletter optimizations, Outbrain gambits, and a whole slew of other tactics.

And the survey data backed up our feeling that there were more people working on audience development and using Chartbeat than we had originally thought.

We reached two conclusions:

  1. We needed to sit down again with the publishers doing the most progressive work in the area of audience development and try to figure out what we’d missed, if anything, the first time.
  2. And, in parallel, we needed to prototype some ideas that came out of our own hypotheses about how to measure audience quality in a simple way.
Read the rest of this entry »

The Role of Research in Building the New Chartbeat Publishing, Part 1

December 5th, 2013 by Adam

Last fall, the Chartbeat product team was hunkered down in an office space that could've made an excellent interrogation room. We temporarily obtained this 500 square-foot room to augment our main office, a sardine can of developers, designers, analysts, scientists, and a growing sales and marketing team.

It was… austere: four brick walls and a cement floor. There was a glass-topped table in the middle, a whiteboard, and a phone. Two windows separated us from the round-the-clock demolition going on in the adjacent lot, and you almost always had to shout to be heard. We even called it the murder room.

We were examining the roadmap for the Chartbeat Publishing dashboard. There was a lot on the table—all kinds of ideas for functionality that we wanted to add to a product that was starting to look like it had too much going on. There was no way we were fitting it all in to the current UI. The bulldozers were looking like a good idea. It was time to start from scratch.

But in reality, prep work for a top-to-bottom overhaul was already well underway. We had initiated a massive effort at capturing the state of the newsroom and the publishing industry, and were already thinking about how to align Chartbeat's services with those conclusions.

Our Research Effort

Research is an ongoing practice at Chartbeat. We’re constantly talking to our clients, figuring out how they work and why they do what they do – even sketching out ideas together and evaluating concepts. Nevertheless, heading into the project, we wanted to consolidate of all our meeting notes and interviews, and confidently answer the following questions…

  • Who's using our product?

  • What are their motivations, needs, and philosophies?

  • Where's the industry going?

  • What will the newsroom look like in a year or two?

  • How will editorial roles evolve?

If we started by simply answering these questions, we knew good things would happen.

Gathering Information

To approach our research challenge systematically, we used ethnographic methodologies:

Interviews and Field Studies

If we weren't on the phone firing away at our customers with non-leading questions, Mona Chaudhuri and I were hitting our clients’ offices on a semi-daily basis throughout most of 2012—picking brains, hearing war stories, watching them work, and bouncing ideas around.

Copious interview notes came from these many many meetings at places like The Blaze, NBC News, the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN Money, Fast Company, Slate, Financial Times, and dozens more. If you had an office in New York, one of us was knocking on your door. And if your offices were outside of New York, we were there too: Washington, London, Toronto, Berlin, San Francisco.

Diary Studies

We asked a diverse group of Chartbeat customers to keep journals of their day to day activities. The journals were written over the course of three weeks into Posterous (R.I.P) blogs. Some of the participants were given, i.e. gifted, iPads to more easily facilitate the entry of notes and ideas. Yes they were great as a lightweight field tool for entering notes, but more so the iPads were a great incentive to keep participants motivated.

We had some very prolific contributors… for example this guy: Jonathan Tesser at New York Magazine (at the time). Reading what his day was like in his own words was a fantastic window into newsroom issues. The ups and downs were so much more tangible—you could really feel the personal challenges in a way that other research methods just couldn't uncover.

Surveys

To get a quantitative perspective on newsroom ethnography, we conducted a survey, which asked people about their role, three day-to-day responsibilities, and the three long-term objectives that they are evaluated on.

Processing the Data

We dug into the survey data and immediately got to some interesting information. For example, 64% of respondents reported themselves as some type of “content creator.” And 36% identified their role as being at least partially on the business side. In our fieldwork, we were still talking primarily to editors and writers, so it was somewhat of a surprise to see that one in three people had some involvement in other aspects of the business, too.

We took the diaries and interview notes and boiled them down, then reduced them, and then reduced them some more into a mental model diagram (shout out to Indi Young and her fantastic book on the subject). The mental model represented everything we knew about newsroom behavior—it contained every discrete action or behavior taken by people in the front lines of a newsroom. There were a lot and they were extremely varied, for example:

  • “curate third-party content on Tumblr”

  • “harass writers to meet their deadlines”

  • “look for dead spots on the homepage”

above: a couple branches of the mental model

 

above: a grouping of activities within the branch: “Understanding referrer sources”
We consolidated the individual actions—several hundred—into larger groups. For example “curate third-party content on Tumblr” was put into a group called “build off-site brand presence.” And finally, all the groups were assembled into four high-level categories:
  1. Developing content

  2. Assessing content

  3. Assessing audience

  4. Developing audience

Everything that we observed and captured fit into one of those four categories. That gave us a way to maintain a broad perspective on the publishing business as a whole, with the means to narrow our focus down to specific workflows and actions through a highly organized affinity diagram.

At this point our ‘forensics’ work was done. Well, it’s never done, but we’d just completed a very thorough and immersive look at newsroom culture, workflow and the state of the publishing industry.

The output of this work - the mental model - gave us something to measure our product against as well. What actions were we supporting and not supporting? We brainstormed all the realistic and totally unrealistic things we could do to help our customers across the many facets of their work.

Tomorrow, in part two of this post we’ll focus on some specific findings of the research and how we used it to roadmap the next incarnation of Chartbeat Publishing.

Introducing the New Chartbeat Publishing for Editorial

December 3rd, 2013 by Joe

Chartbeat Publishing for Editorial

We’ve witnessed incredible changes in the publishing industry over the past few years. As real time has changed the landscape of journalism, it’s touched every aspect of the business. By bringing actionable data front and center, we’ve seen front-line editorial teams make on-the-fly decisions, dramatically redesign products, and even totally reorganize the way their physical environments are set up. Likewise, we're continuing to see exciting developments in online advertising, too, with the advent of new, outside-the-box ad experiences. The jobs of folks in publishing are evolving, so are their tools, and so is the whole business of online media – from the introduction of mainstream native advertising to video and mobile taking center stage.

We’re finally starting to see high-quality content get the attention (and opportunities to monetize it) it deserves. That’s the very heart of  journalism, and that’s been our number-one goal at Chartbeat since… well, forever. When you stop chasing after indiscriminate traffic in the hopes of hitting a page view quota, and you reorient yourself around the goal of growing your loyal audience, everything changes. You’re no longer the dog behind the ice cream truck – you’re now the alpha leading the pack. Focusing on loyalty means that for the first time, goals become aligned across an entire organization. Everything falls in line when you write or produce quality content that drives your audience to return, and when you design audience-friendly products that result in opportunities for monetization – because advertisers want your defined, loyal audience, too. This all underscores the importance of understanding qualitatively how you’re looking at your metrics.

Today, we’re incredibly excited to announce the next evolution of Chartbeat Publishing for Editorial. Nine months ago, we set out to overhaul the entire platform, to rebuild it from the ground up, backend, frontend, the whole deal. And we did – beyond even our own expectations.

The new Chartbeat Publishing bets on that major shift – away from clickbait and chasing indiscriminate traffic and now toward developing a loyal audience. It connects the dots, between quality journalism and a loyal audiencean audience you can monetize.

So, how does the new Chartbeat Publishing help you ?

Understand how visitors are moving through your site
If you’re already familiar with Chartbeat Publishing, you know the number of Concurrents on your website – a real-time tally of your visitors right now – is a great indicator of your current performance. You also know Engaged Time is one of the best barometers for quality, and for visitors’ propensity to return. Our data science team has been hard at work analyzing the metrics that contribute to audience growth, and we’re ready to introduce a new signature metric: Recirculation, the measure of your audience that’s moving from one article to another within a single visit.
Get a better breakdown of your audience

In the past, we all looked at audience quality has been binary – visitors were either new or returning. But we found that binary segmentation wasn't actionable enough if you’re setting out to build a returning and loyal audience. In the new Chartbeat Publishing, we’ve expanded upon this concept with three simple categories: new, returning, and loyal. This breakdown is based on the frequency of visits by your audience. We show you how each segment is performing in real time, and we compare that performance to benchmarks from the past month. Pivoting on each segment individually let’s you narrow your attention, and from there, you can filter down even further by almost any other dashboard attribute.

Rely on quick signals, clues and tips

Every site has its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to audience development. Some need to focus on bringing in new visitors, and others just need to better understand what their core audience is consuming to inform editorial decisions. We’ve sprinkled a little contextual magic throughout the product just for this purpose. You’ll notice different elements turning red if you’re in dangerous territory (or green if you’re really cruising), and the tooltips will help you know what to do. Within top pages, opportunities are called out when content is either helping to acquire new visitors or retain visitors, i.e. hold their attention. We’ll even tell you when a high percentage of video consumption is occurring on a particular page.

Target your top referrers

As Josh Schwartz, our lead data scientist, notes in one of his latest blog posts, external referrers provide the greatest volume of new visitors to websites. But they also provide the greatest challenge in terms of generating actual engagement. Chartbeat Publishing has a new lens through which you can look at your referrers. It’s based on “conversion quality,” and it shows you which referrers have the highest propensity to drive true audience growth. Even better, new tooltips will explain just why. This view is one of the most successful if you want to focus your attention on the visitors who are most likely to return again and again.

With audiences consuming content in dramatically different ways, we knew it was important to allow you to discover completely new patterns, too. With this, we developed a totally new technology platform to allow for multi-segmentation. For example, you can now pivot on the mobile audience from Washington D.C who are consuming content through social channels — all in real time. Additionally, we’re surfacing the specific tweets from your audience that are driving traffic to your site, so you can focus your outreach strategy and know who to engage with.

Journalism is too advanced, too full of smart people, to start every day at zero – to wrangle new traffic every day, to look for any warm body to fill a seat. We’re here to help you focus on the right audience – an audience who knows who you are, likes what you do, and keeps coming back for more.

P.S. Check out more about the new Chartbeat Publishing and let us know what you think!