7 Metrics to Measure Publication Success

Jul 24, 2012 by Arka Der Stepanian

An online magazine cover and a graph that shows growth.

After publishing your newest issue online, what do you do? Probably sit back and enjoy your visitors number climbing up. Of course, that is a lot of fun, but there’s a lot more to measure than simple pageviews. Knowing how to correctly analyze and interpret your statistics gives you ammunition for upcoming choices regarding your design, content strategy and publication schedule. In this post, we will help you on your way to data-driven decisions.

Publitas has a built-in Reporting Manager that allows you to generate detailed reports on the performance of your publications. There’s also the option to feed your publication statistics to Google Analytics for even more advanced and detailed reports. You can do this easily by entering your Google Analytics web property ID in the Publication Manager. You can then track your statistics in Google Analytics on publication- or issue-level by using the ‘Content Drilldown’ report under ‘Site Content’ in the ‘Content’ section.

There is a lot of insightful information that can be extracted from these reports. In order to get the best out of these reports, it's critical that you know what information is important to you. To help you, we've picked seven metrics that we believe provide a strong foundation for determining publication success. Spend some time thinking about what you want to find out, compare them to our suggestions, and choose relevant metrics for your reports that tell you what you need to know.

1. Pages Per Visit

This metric will tell you more about the activity level of your issues. When users open your issue, how many pages do they visit? Do they view everything or just a few pages? The pages per visit metric is displayed as the ‘Pages / Visit’ (average page depth) ratio.

Online Magazine Pages Per Visit

2. Number of Users Per Issue

The number of users per issue can easily be determined by looking at the number of unique visitors for your issue. It’s a particularly useful metric in learning about shifts in weekly (e.g. increased number of users during lunch time, evenings and weekends) and annual activity (e.g. summer and Christmas rush). If one issue is receiving significantly less views than previous issues you may want to look at how users access the issue. A good starting point is to check whether your issue is still online and to make sure you haven’t posted a broken link. You can also look at the release date and time of your issue to see if it suits your audience. Be sure to track any growth in the number of users as a result of this extra effort in making your publication fit your audience. Last but not least, give your users a taste of what is in the issue to entice them to click through the rest of the issue.

Online Magazine Number of Users Per Issue

3. Percentage of New Users Per Issue

It’s important to determine the number of returning and new users to understand whether your publication is attracting new people or not. A high number of new users suggests that you are successful at driving traffic to your issue (through your marketing activities, for example) while a high number of return visitors suggests that the issue content is engaging enough to keep users coming back. You can see how many times users return and how frequently they return in the ‘New vs. Returning’ and ‘Frequency & Recency’ reports, both under ‘Behavior’ in the ‘Audience’ section.

Online Magazine New vs. Returning Users

Online Magazine Frequency & Recency of User Visits

4. Most Popular Spreads

A great way to understand the success drivers of your issue is to look at the most viewed spreads and ask yourself what’s in these spreads that makes them more popular than the others?

  1. Go to ‘Content’ -> ‘Site Content’ -> ‘Content Drilldown’ and click on your publication (e.g. ‘/Company-Z-Catalog/’).
  2. Next, select your issue (e.g. ‘/July/’).
  3. Click on ‘/spreadview/’ to see the views per spread.

Most Popular Spreads of an Online Magazine

You may find that spreads containing video clips or interactive elements (e.g. clippings, buttons, animations) are being viewed more than those without. If that’s true, you could for instance use a filmed interview in the next issue instead of writing everything out in text. Here are two examples of how you can use video in your publications.

5. Top Exit Spreads

The top exit spreads reveal whether there are points in the publication that are causing your users to leave.

  1. Go to ‘Content’ -> ‘Site Content’ -> ‘Content Drilldown’ and click on your publication (e.g. ‘/Company-Z-Catalog/’).
  2. Next, select your issue (e.g. ‘/July/’).
  3. Click on ‘/spreadview/’ to see the views per spread.
  4. In the table ‘% Exit’ to sort the spreads on ascending or descending exit page order.

Top Exit Spreads of an Online Magazine

One explanation for their loss in interest might be due to too much text. If you think that is the case, break up long areas of text with images, quotes, or videos. However, a high exit rate on a spread does not necessarily have to be a bad thing. If the last spread of your issue is the top exit spread, then most users are closing your issue on the last page. This is good because it means that in general, the majority of your users browse through your issue and leave once they've reached the end.

6. Number of Clicks on Buttons

Google Analytics allows you to measure the number of clicks on buttons in the menu or side panel of your issue.

  1. Go to ‘Content’ -> ‘Site Content’ -> ‘Content Drilldown’ and click on your publication (e.g. ‘/Company-Z-Catalog/’).
  2. Next, select your issue (e.g. ‘/July/’).
  3. Click on ‘/menubar/’ to see the button clicks from the menubar or ‘/sidepanel/’ to see the button clicks from the side panel.

Number of Clicks on Buttons Within an Online Magazine

If you find that your buttons are hardly being used, you may want to consider removing them from the template to clean up the look of your publication.

7. Number of Clipping Shares

You can use Google Analytics to obtain information on how often clippings (e.g. specific products, images, etc.) combined with the zoom-function are shared. On a side note, this is the only type of clipping that can be shared.

  1. Go to ‘Content’ -> ‘Site Content’ -> ‘Content Drilldown’ and click on your publication (e.g. ‘/Company-Z-Catalog/’).
  2. Next, select your issue (e.g. ‘/July/’).
  3. Click on ‘/clipping/’.
  4. In the search box on the right, type in ‘/socialnetwork/’ to see all the clippings that were shared on social networks.
Number of Clipping Shares from An Online Magazine

How to Connect Your Publications With Google Analytics

We hope that you have a good idea of what you want to measure by now.

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