Google Analytics

In the past our analysis has looked at user behavior to try and understand how different users interact with content and what drives them to return. In the September 2017 webinar we took a look at how station strategies play a role in the size of their loyal website audience (users who visit 3 or more times in a month). Here are 3 things we discovered:

If you'd like to start measuring the size of your website's loyal audience, you can start by importing the Loyal Users Segment (3+ Sessions) into your Google Analytics account. Once you have this segment in place you can add it to any standard or custom Google Analytics report in order to understand how this group of users interacts with content or how they compare to other types of audience.

Member Station website audience crossed an important threshold in July 2017. For the first time since NPR has been tracking aggregate station web traffic, there were more sessions on mobile devices that on desktop/laptop devices.  

Here's why it matters:

Twice a year we step back and look at the overall digital trends in public media. When we last looked at websites, in the fall of 2016, we saw that station sites were under performing the growth we saw in other local news sites. More recently we see that station sites are experiencing some growth while other local news sites decline, but none of them are seeing the tremendous growth experienced by NPR.org. 

What if you could find out more about how your members use your website? You could learn whether they prefer to read or stream audio content, how they get to your site and what programs they love. You could find out what emails they find most interesting and what types of gifts they want with their membership. If you are already tracking pledges using eCommerce tagging they you can learn how to use segments and standard Google analytics report. If you aren't tracking eCommerce yet, you can find tips and guidance on how to get started.

We spend a lot of time talking about user engagement, how to measure it and how to encourage it. We want to be sure that our content reaches the right audience, but when much of our audience only interacts with a single page how do we know that we are encouraging the right behaviors to build audience and membership? For each page a user sees we have a chance to encourage them to interact with our content but a single page of viewing only gives us one chance to capture their attention.

Over the past few years we've used our station analytics data to learn a lot about our digital audience. Recently we've been looking at the characteristics and behavior of our users over a longer timeframe through a Google tool called BigQuery. We call this endeavor our Digital Conversion Study and have previously publish our insights about donors and our insights about repeat users.

In July, the Station Analytics team started an on-going investigation into the long-term site interaction trends that correlate with higher levels of site engagement and donation. Recently we shifted our focus from donors to repeat users of our sites with the goal of better understanding our loyal audience. Here's what we were able to learn about visitors who come to our sites more than once. 

In July, the Station Analytics team started an on-going investigation into the long-term site interaction trends that correlate with higher levels of site engagement and donation. This project uses Google’s BigQuery tool to load granular Google Analytics data starting from April of 2014 and building into the future. This tool allows us to analyze user data across longer periods of time than what is currently available in the Google Analytics interface and to perform more complicated custom calculations.

On the December Station Analytics Insights call we talked about our recent upgrade to the newest version of Google Analytics, Universal Analytics.  One of the key benefits of the transition was the ability to store additional data in Custom Dimensions.  Custom dimensions are used to collect and analyze data that isn’t automatically tracked by Google Analytics and they replace Custom Variables that were used in the previous version of the tracking code. This new information will allow us to answer lots of interesting questions - on the webinar we walked through the following examples:

One of the many helpful customizations in the Station Analytics System is the collection of public media specific meta data.  In addition to the default page data, additional information is tracked and stored in Custom Dimensions which can easily be added to standard or custom Google Analytics reports. This post will explain how to add the necessary information to your website so that it can easily be tracked by Google Analytics.

Update: Due to a late breaking bug in final QA, we are moving the transition to December 1 to keep data integrity a priority. 

In January, we shared some initial data on improvements for Core Publisher stations that had moved to the responsive theme.  Those improvements included better tracking, improved search performance, and increased reading. Recently, we looked at data for the set of stations that moved to responsive in February 2015.  These stations saw similar improvements, including increases in story reading.   

Update: Due to a late breaking bug in final QA, we are moving the transition to December 1 to keep data integrity a priority. 

Recently, the station analytics team was asked to help solve a debate in a local newsroom. This station was trying to decide if it would be  beneficial to supplement its strong local coverage with some national news from the NPR API. Since we have data about web performance for over 200 stations, we were glad to offer some insight. We started by looking at a group of 25 stations with strong digital newsrooms and monthly users between 50k and 300k. We found that, in these stations, local news drove higher engagement and encouraged users to come back.

The Core Publisher development team has been working hard to introduce a fully functioned responsive web theme. Over the past few months a handful of sites have moved to this new theme which provides a cleaner look and allows a consistent experience across devices. While we can't share sites confidential details, we can point to a few positive trends that we have seen post launch.

Lately lots of people have been emailing me links to articles about a phenomena called "dark social." This is interesting because "dark social" is the phrase coined to describe what was originally thought to be impact of the social sharing of links directly between individuals through email and chat.  Back in 2012, Alexis Madrigal wrote an article about a concerning trend that he was seeing on theatlantic.com.

On this month’s webinar we discussed an interesting new feature in Google Analytics. Google Analytics is currently in the process of rolling out new Benchmarking reports. While our team has not yet worked with these extensively, we find it an interesting options for stations who are interested in comparing their performance with sites outside of public media. 

On August Station Analytics insights webinar we talked about data that was collected using custom variables in Google Analytics.  If you missed that webinar you can view the video. For Core Publisher stations the digital services developers handled the set up, but if you are not using Core Publisher here is how you can start tracking additional data about your site.

Mobile traffic has once again hit a new peak for our station sites and we eagerly anticipate the time when more of our traffic will come from mobile and from tablet than from desktop devices. All this growth can lead us to want to know more about our mobile users - who are they, what are they doing, are we helping them find what they are looking for?

Limitations of Segments in Google Analytics

Pages