How to Increase Virality with Actionable Content Analytics

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Anyone who creates content will probably recognize the traditional lifecycle of a blog post:

  • Write a post.
  • Publish and share with your online networks.
  • Sit back and hope for the best.

This passive approach will help get you started, but actively tracking certain key metrics and adjusting your promotion strategy in real time can make a remarkable difference.

That’s where actionable content analytics come in.

In this post, we’ll look at the whole process, from choosing the right metrics to taking the most effective actions to implementing the actual code.

What metrics should I track?

Let’s start by looking at three meaningful metrics used by influential content networks such as Medium and Mashable.

  • Read Percentage: shows if readers actually read your content or left shortly after arrival
  • Content Velocity: indicates the rate of growth a specific post is experiencing relative to past performance, which is an indicator of potential virality
  • Conversion Percentage: displays what percentage of readers convert to a desired outcome, such as becoming a subscriber

To capture these end user analytics using Keen, you would only need to track two data events:

  • Page Views: runs once on page load
  • Page Scrolls: runs each time a user scrolls through a page

These same two data events would also allow you to get metrics like User Locations, Referrals, and Total Impressions, making them even more powerful.

Now that you know what to track, it’s time to cover why.

Taking Action

So far we’re focusing on just three metrics. That’s because it’s easy to get overwhelmed by a large set of metrics. Focusing on these three actionable metrics allows you to react in real time to your content’s performance by taking specific actions.

Read Percentage

This metric helps you understand how your readers interact with your content. Here are screenshots from Medium’s Stats end user dashboard page showing how this metric appears in real-world usage:

If you are experiencing a low read percentage on a post, the content might be too long. You can certainly keep that in mind for future posts, but what about improving the average read percentage right away?

Take a look at this chart I made with Keen’s end user analytics visualization library:

Keen end user analytics

By grouping read percentages by referral medium, you can quickly see which source results in more reads, giving you an accurate answer to where promotion efforts should be directed.

Content Velocity

Content Velocity measures the growth rate of posts over time. On the surface, this metric seems similar to a standard Page Views Metric, but while page views show past performance, Content Velocity predicts future performance, which has huge benefits.

It’s no coincidence that large media companies such as Mashable use Content Velocity to their advantage. In fact, Chris Heald, Chief Architect at Mashable, says “post placement is full algorithmic.” This allows the best content to surface organically. They even make show their proprietary velocity graph on each post:

Screenshot of velocity graph Keen

Luckily, you don’t need to fully automate post placement to take advantage of Content Velocity. By prioritizing the promotion of posts with a higher Content Velocity score, you can accelerate the growth of your top content.

Keep reading to see what a Content Velocity score looks like.

Conversion Percentage

Improving conversion percentage is a common goal, but it’s often difficult to know how exactly to do it. By comparing the conversion percentage of individual posts, you can identify the best performing posts.

Compare these charts that show a conversion funnel for two sponsored posts:

Post 1 (~2.8% conversion)

2.8% Conversion Keen SaaS analytics

Post 2 (~5% conversion)

~5% conv Keen SaaS analytics

As you can see, the conversion percentage of Post 2 is nearly double that of Post 1. Therefore, it makes sense to focus promotion efforts on Post 2.

Bringing it all together

By tracking Read Percentage, Content Velocity, and Conversion Percentage, you can turn simple Page View and Page Scroll events into an actionable end user analytics engine.

Questions about getting content metrics set up for your team? Contact us or ping us on Slack!

Ready to set this up on your own? We’ve created a quick start guide to implement this tracking on your own!

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