how to make sure you’re measuring your traffic correctly

how to make sure you're measuring your traffic correctlyPitch & Post is working on a number of brand projects at the moment and the disparity in the information bloggers are prepared to disclose about their traffic and community size is pretty alarming.  Even more so, the programs bloggers are using to record their traffic varied between 4 or 5 methods (not to mention the “guestimates” many thought were acceptable to reveal). As we talk about time and time again on Pitch & Post; size isn’t everything and its disappointing that bloggers are so coy to “show their cards.”  Lets remember the point of blogs; “a way of an individual talking from a personal perspective to an engaged micro community” (so says Sheryl Sandberg who rumour has it, knows her stuff).

I’m not sure what the issue at hand is, and hoping it’s ignorance or lack of knowledge rather than anything more sinister – but regardless, it’s prompted me to write this “how to” in the hope it will give some of you a helping hand to ensure you are giving numbers and information which does your blog the justice it deserves.  It really is quite simple; the larger the traffic information you disclose to a brand/PR, the larger the expected engagement and delivery is from any campaign you work with them on.

Lets first look at the accepted marketing terminology for the figures you are most likely to be asked to disclose when working on a project:

  • Visits – The number of times your site/blog is visited overall by your community over a period of time, typically and expectedly one month.
  • Pageviews – The number of pages that are opened from your site/blog over a period of time, typically and expectedly one month.
  • Unique Users or Unique Numbers – The number of times individual people visit your blog (measured by their IP address) over a period of time, typically and expectedly one month.

The accepted method to use is Google Analytics (as this is what most brands/PRs use to do their own numbers) if it is compatible with your site. The easiest way to remember the above is; if a person visits your site on 2 different occasions over a month and views 3 pages, it would be = 2 visits, 3 page impressions and 1 unique visitor. If you have never used Google Analytics before, here is our simple guide to get you started.

The monthly time period to calculate your figures is what all brands, PRs and agencies will have expected you to have used when giving them any information.  More recently some bloggers have been using another program called Statcounter which shortens the time period used to calculate pageviews and unique users to one day, potentially inflating blogger’s traffic by 31x (as if a person visits your blog every day it would currently be 1 unique user, whereas Statcounter measures it as 31 – for every day in that month).  As much as this may sound like a winning ticket to an instant lift in your traffic (the phrase “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is” comes to mind) consider what this means:

As I said, if you raise your traffic by “x” number of times, you raise the expectation on delivery by “x” amount. If your blog does not deliver the expected amount of results (more on that below), you will either have appeared to have given false number, or your blog will be considered to have under delivered – reducing the chances that the same brand or PR (if a PR, consider the number of clients they have and how that could affect all of those relationships) will work with you again.

In terms of expectation, here are the kind of things brands/PRs are looking for when you work with them (and will have calculated together a target, based on the numbers you have given them):

  • Revenue – If the project you are working on links to an eCommerce website (site with purchasing capabilities) they will have calculated an expected number of transactions working with you will deliver.
  • Traffic – A calculated prediction of click through rates (number of times somebody clicks through to a brand’s webpage from your blog) will have been made using your site’s statistics.  Some brands/PRs may ask you to insert a UTM code (“urchin traffic monitor” – a simple way to monitor specific incoming traffic for a particular campaign, you can create your own here) into the links to ensure no errors are made
  • Sign Ups or Data – Put simply, the number of new customers the brand are expecting to visit their site and sign up to their website.  It is sometimes called “data” as each customer is effectively an insight into the demographic, location and personality of people attracted to their website.

If you fail to hit these targets there could be a number of legitimate reasons (for example, perhaps the content they asked you to write wasn’t engaging enough – we can talk about how to encourage strong click through rates using “allusive editorial” another time) but the immediate conclusion is that your traffic was not what you said it was.  And there is a strong argument to say that if you use anything other than Google Analytics, that could well be the case.

So please, have a little think about the way you are choosing to explain/detail your traffic – don’t let yourself down.  Building traffic and a following takes time, but rest assured the pride and satisfaction will be much greater if you know you went about it in a legitimate way.

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