Sitting In the Stat Seat

In working on OWNER magazine, I’m paying attention to stats really closely so that I can try things, tweak things, and see what works and what doesn’t. I feel like Christopher S Penn, but when I say that, please know I’m joking. I’ll never be 1/114th as clever as that man.

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I’m looking at my bounce rate (how long someone stays on site before they drop off and leave), which is around 65% (not great, but not hideous).

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I’m looking at what they click, where they came from, where they go. And with this, I’m testing. I’m asking what I can do to improve time on site, what kinds of offers are interesting and useful and which aren’t, which networks are currently serving me my most traffic (twitter) and where I need more amplification (LinkedIn). I spent $100 promoting a post on Facebook to see if something would come of that (so far, not really, but that’s likely me, because I’m not as smart as Amy Porterfield).

What’s fun is that I’ve not “had” to do this at [] for a while. I know who you are. I know what you’ll do. I know what makes you happy and what bores you. I ignore a lot of what the stats tell me. But this is different. I’m approaching OWNER magazine like one should: like a new business. I’m working on knowing the guts of it inside and out so that I can help prospective partners who want to do business with us to understand who exactly are on the site, and what they most want.

How I Normally View Stats

I have two metrics that I measure numerically and one measure of qualitative analysis. The qualitative measure is just how people react and respond via email replies and comments and other feedback. The two numerical metrics are # of subscribers and $ of revenue per active subscriber. That’s it. Because my business is a media business, that’s all I need to REALLY pay attention to most days.

But then, I like finding those stats for any business. If I ran restaurants, I’d be very attentive to $ per guest (average order) as a metric for my servers. I might be attentive to pounds of waste with my cooking staff. And for planning, I’d want to work on margins and attendance.

To me, there are a wealth of stats, but I only usually need a few to figure out the “hinges” of the business. If you’re liking the magazine, my other metrics fall into place without me needing to know the guts and the details. If I’m still trying to figure out ways to grow my numbers (and I am), I’ll have to see what you’re clicking and what you’re not, how you’re searching for me, and how you’re not, etc. But then, when it gets rolling, I’ll use higher level dashboard metrics than that.

What stats do you follow for your business? How much of what you run is numerical? What do you do to tweak those numbers? runs on the Genesis Framework

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  • Ash

    I look at bounce rates, average time per user on the site and number of page views.

    But I’m starting to realise why these are called vanity metrics and that I know nothing about my readers.

    I would love to learn how to find out about my readers

    • Chris Brogan

      That’s the hardest thing to do. Takes a lot of conversation, and more.

  • Ryan Biddulph

    I did a 180 Chris; comments and social shares. Engagement counts most to me these days. Page views and bounce rates, yep, important, but when I made a concerted effort to improve these metrics I noted a stark improvement in business. Thanks for the share!

    • Chris Brogan

      What do you do with them, I wonder.

  • Christopher S. Penn

    The stats are changing, too. We should do lunch sometime again soon :)

    • Chris Brogan

      We should indeed. : )

      • Brent Stromme

        Well, I guess I’ll begin analyzing my stats after you and Christopher Penn have had lunch. :-)

        • Ash



  • Tim Bonner

    I look at bounce rates too Chris but not with any great knowledge! Sometimes it can hit 80% on my blog but at the moment it’s sitting pretty at 60%.

    I tend to work on engagement too, like Ryan mentions. If I don’t need to rely on Google so much all the better and referral traffic is pretty darn great!

    • Chris Brogan

      My site is really in a bad way with bounce. Like 80.

      • Tim Bonner

        You surprise me Chris!

        I partially blame RSS readers.

        People see a new post, go read it, maybe comment and then go and find the next new post on someone else’s blog. Still, they’re also a pretty useful tool as well!

        It may be that we just have to accept that 60 to 80 is the typical bounce rate for a blog? I’ve nothing to back that up other than some research I did for a blog post a while back.

  • JesseNewhart

    As a former restaurant cook. The “pounds of waste” made me lol. Still, I get the point.

    • Chris Brogan

      Beats me. Is that a real metric? I made it up. : )

      • Chris Brogan

        But if you were chucking too much of my steak in the trash, I’d fire your butt.

        • JesseNewhart

          The concept is indeed a sound one. It was the ‘pounds’ that got me thinking of something like the cost difference between a pound of truffle oil vs a pound of Idaho spuds so pounds might not be the best things to measure by.

          Actually there is great deal of value/profit to be gained in the restaurant business by not only eliminating waste but also by re-purposing products. Using last night’s left over mash potatoes as a base for today’s soup or spinach potato cake special, for instance.

  • Vincent Nguyen

    The main stat I focus on are conversions. How many people are subscribing and where are they doing it at? Are the things I have to offer valuable enough for them to make such a commitment?

    • Chris Brogan

      Great things to think through, for sure. : )

  • Alex from Groove

    Thanks for this post, Chris. I love this topic. For Groove, the key metrics have changed and evolved throughout various stages of growing the business. At first, we focused primarily on in-app interaction metrics (bounce rate, time on site, etc…) to take the product from alpha to market-ready. Now as we grow, we’re looking more at metrics like CLV, user acquisition costs and landing page conversion rates (while still tracking the in-app metrics).

    I disagree, though, with the rampant dismissal of so-called “vanity” metrics. Those can be super important culturally — for a team, it’s an easy way to see growth and keep morale high, which is especially critical at startups. Sure, select the most important KPI’s and grow your business from them, but metrics like unique visitors and such still have value to a team.

    • Chris Brogan

      Interesting perspective, Alex. I like it, actually. It’s not that they’re worthless, you point out, but that they’re worth more as morale boosters than other functions. Great!

  • Able Business Credit

    Bounce rate is something I check quite frequently, but I feel that page views per visitor is a much more important metric. I find that the viewers that are engaged to several pages of my website often turn into leads/customers.

    • Chris Brogan

      Quite agree that that’s a great stat. Nicer when I can influence folks. : )

  • jon_mitchell_jackson

    Chris- Over the past 5 years or so, have you re-focused on what metrics you review? Any major changes between your blog and new magazine? Anything surprise you with the mag metrics that you didn’t expect? I’m asking because I like this concept and may try to use it as a model for trial lawyer and/or communication tips (if that’s OK with you). BTW, how often is your mag coming out?

    • Chris Brogan

      I have to reconsider my metrics all the time. The question that goes with every shift is the same: what change do I need to see happen? What can I measure to see if it’s happening? :)

  • The JackB

    I boil down my stats to those that are of critical importance to me and exclude those that are based upon or satisfy vanity. Comments and shares don’t always generate financial return.

    • Chris Brogan

      Right. So what are your stats to point towards?

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  • Danny Brown

    Data is everything, and everything is data (or something). :)

    I took a good hard look at my analytics a month ago and the experience was scary. I knew I was letting things slip, but I was surprised at how bad I’d let things get:

    - Bounce rate over 80%
    - Visit duration just over one minute
    - Pages/visit averaging 1.4 per visit

    I took a good look at visitor behaviour around these stats (they’re the three I look to the most) and got the following data:

    - The incentive to check out other pages wasn’t prominent enough;
    - Certain “drivers of traffic” were doing anything but;
    - The content wasn’t conducive to long stays and participation.

    Clearly things had to change. So they did.

    - I changed to a design that had a sticky navigation menu, where the
    Page tabs would follow you all the way down the post. This increased
    additional page clicks;
    - I stopped using Triberr, the content curation / blogger platform;
    - I deliberately changed to longer form content, as opposed to the standard 300-600 word approach.

    Results were dramatic:

    - Pages per Visit rose from 1.40 to 2.23;
    - Average visit duration rose from 1.09 to 1.37;
    - Bounce rate dropped from 81.45% to 35.68%.

    Just goes to show what you can change with a little knowledge. :)

    Congrats on the magazine launch!

    • Chris Brogan

      Wow! Those are some amazing stats. Really cool to see that. : )

  • Rick Kranz

    Chris, if you’re using Google analytics to calculate bounce rate then you might be looking at the wrong information. They define bounce rate as “The percentage of visits that go only one page before exiting a site.” Many analytics people disagree with this definition of bounce rate, especially for blog or article sites. Time spent on site may be a better measurement for you.

    If I spend 2 minutes reading an article on your site and then another few minutes commenting and then leave Google will count that as 100% bounce. Yet I was completely engaged. For me I consider less than 30 seconds on a site a bounce.

    • Ryan King

      I run into the same problem when gauging target bounce rates, especially on blogs. Do you have a benchmark you use for bounce rate from your blog?

      • Rick Kranz

        Not really, I have learned to ignore bounce rate. In general I ignore all aggregate analytics. I am only interested in what specific individuals are doing on my website. So average rates do not concern me. For these type of analytics we use the HubSpot tool set.

        Our goal is to get individuals to convert into contacts by either joining our mailing list or downloading some premium content – eBooks, Webinar, etc. From that point on we track what each person is interested in an offer up content to match their interest. The key metrics we focus on are traffic, downloads, and requests for consultations.

        One aggregate metric we do look at is social shares of our blog posts.

        • Ryan King

          Thank Rick!

    • Chad Butler

      Interesting – I never realized that/thought of bounce rates that way, but it makes sense.

      So if I tweet out links to my twitter followers, and a person comes in and reads that one specific post, then a few days later comes in via a twitter link and reads that specific post, those are both counted as bounces? If that’s the case, then that truly is a useless metric since this person is following your posting “off-blog,” so-to-speak and is actually fully engaged.

    • http://marketing2040.blogspot.


    • Jessy Thames

      Would really go with the fact. I have been experiencing so and was quite puzzled. Hmm.. later recognized the similar with most of the websites.

      - IntegraCustomerSupport

  • JamesSeoChicago

    Working for an SEO Chicago creative agency, we typically SEM Rush, along with Google Analytics to track bounce rates, time spent on pages, and other relevant information. In the SEO realm, I try to track traffic stats for individual pages and then design content/optimization around them. ANy suggestions for better stats tools on the market for cheap (or free)?

  • http://marketing2040.blogspot.

    good topic

  • Vincent G

    I have bounce rate for about 62% but not able to draw more traffic on my website. Analytics is not helping much.

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  • Lucy Chen

    When you post to LinkedIn, do you post to groups?

    If not, it’d be good to give it another go. Make sure that you join the groups, groups for business, social media, entrepreneur etc., and share your post and link to the groups.