How To Increase Virality With Actionable Content Analytics

If you have been hoping to increase traffic via the content you create, it might surprise you to learn that your content analytics could hold the secrets to getting more website visitors. There’s valuable knowledge just waiting for you to take advantage of so that your posts have a higher probability of gaining traction and going viral. After all, isn’t that what everyone hopes for?

We all want our business to go viral and yield hundreds of potential new leads. Below, we’re sharing ideas you can use to garner more page views, and hopefully yield more income as a result.

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

  • Research and write a thoughtful post
  • Publish and share with your online networks and all over social media
  • Send it to your current email list and ask them for shares too
  • Sit back and hope for the best

This passive approach will help get you started, but actively tracking certain key content 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 virality metrics to pay attention to and taking the most effective actions, to implementing the actual code.

What Content Metrics Should I track?

Let’s start by looking at three meaningful virality 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 you can track in a content analytics dashboard. 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.

However, two additional content metrics that you may want to consider adding to your content analytics dashboard are:

  • Time on the site: This measures how long your readers were on the page. In fact, you can measure how long they stayed on your website in general as well.
  • Number of shares: It’s beneficial to learn how many times your content gets shared on social media and via email. If you find that most shares are on Twitter, for example, you’ll know that this is the social media platform you should focus most of your promotional efforts on. However, if more shares occur with Facebook or LinkedIn, you’ll focus on those platforms instead.

These virality metrics can also be measured with the Page Views and Page Scrolls events!

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, or it might not be relevant to the people who are visiting your website. When your read percentage is low, here are a few things you may want to do:

  • Find out where the visitors to your website are coming from. Take a look at this chart that was made with Keen’s end-user content analytics visualization library:
  • 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.
  • If visitors are finding your site via a search engine but you have a low read percentage, the problem could be the keywords you are showing up in search engine result pages (SERPs) for. It’s critical that your content features the specific keywords that your ideal reader would be looking for if you have any hope of going viral.
  • Determine which posts have the highest read percentage: This could also be a clue about the content you should be creating. The posts with the highest read percentage are the ones you should be promoting even more to drive traffic. You can also see if there is a new or different angle you can use to create similar content to the posts that have the highest read percentage as well.
  • Rewrite or update content with low read percentage: It may be beneficial to go back into older pieces of content and add new keywords, update the verbiage, and insert new headlines and subheadings for easier reading. It’s also a good idea to add or update images and graphics where appropriate so that your visitors aren’t met with large blocks of text that feel too overwhelming to consume.

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.

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.

Interestingly enough, the content that is already doing well gets favored by search engines and social media platforms. User intent is a big deal, especially for Google. Therefore, if Google sees that one of your pieces of content is getting a lot of clicks, shares, and that people are staying on the page for a significant amount of time, your website could actually get a boost in the SERPs! Organic traffic never hurt anyone, and it could help your posts to get the attention needed to yield untold amounts of leads and income.

The social media updates that are getting the most attention are more likely to show up in the news feeds of users too. Let’s say your content is getting shared on Facebook by several users. Facebook’s algorithm keeps track of this, and will actually reward you with more visibility. You can take further advantage of the attention by creating ads for your content which can lead to even more opportunities for virality. But, we’ll save that for another post.

While we’re on the subject of social media ads, however, we highly recommend taking a look at our post on Adtech Software. It’s a great read for software developers that want to help the end-users of their customers to get more bang for their advertising buck.

By the way – did you see what we just did there? We encouraged you to look at another post on our website. That’s a great strategy to keep visitors on your pages as well. Insert links to relevant and actionable content that will not only give them more information, but it could also help them learn more about what it is your company does. As your visitors begin to know, like, and trust you, they will be more likely to share your content. If you’re really lucky, this could translate into them becoming your customers or bringing you new leads too.

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)

Post 2 (~5% conversion)

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. You can also re-examine Post 2 to see what elements from it should be implemented in a rework/rewrite of Post 1. Who knows? A few simple tweaks here and there could help both posts become more viral.

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 content 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!

*This article was originally published February 2016 and was updated November 2019.