Those of you who follow both myself and the eNitiate brand online will know that this is our 11th year and 1st month in the digital marketing and communications business.
We call this new year the #12thGear. Appropriate. Isn’t it?
As our homepage says, we have been around. On this note, we came into the market when Facebook had (only) 100 million active users, and this social network behemoth has grown 20-fold since then.
Don’t ask me if we have matched Facebook’s crazy growth – I won’t answer the question. Period .
Back to this post. As part of the reviews and previews to do with our anniversary, I have been looking at eNitiate’s Web stats and I thought I must share some of the interesting insights, with the main objective of demonstrating that the amount of available online data can be harnessed by any business that is serious about growing its online presence.
Her are the top 7 insights from the findings of our analysis of our latest Web stats.
1. Analysis of eNitiate Web stats has been yet another reminder of how focused brands must be in the selection of online performance indicators
Google Analytics, one of the two Web data analytics platforms used for this blog, has 4 metric groups – Audience | Acquisition | Behaviour | Conversions. There is a minimum of 29 metrics under the 4 groups combined, including visitors (also called users), sessions (visits), page views, time spent on the site, traffic sources, devices, user flows, top 10 pages, goal conversions, etc. No one company can track all these metrics at all times.
NOTE: I am aware that Google Analytics uses slightly different jargon for the words “groups” and the “metrics” that I chose to use. But, I do not want to confuse the targeted reader with the jargon, so I shall stick with my terms. I love the double meaning of this last phrase.
The best way to choose website metrics that matter the most must be determined by 3 questions:
A. What type of business is this? An ecommerce business will most likely use different metrics to a consulting business that does not sell anything online.
B. Where in the digital analytics maturity model is your business? Without going technical on you, metrics of a business that is only starting with online analytics are most likely different to the one that has been using analytics for a longer period. You can overlay to this the level of capacitation of this function by a business.
C. What are the online objectives of your business? This cannot be over-emphasized, given that there is a tendency by some companies to use a Website mainly as an online address, and/or for “dipping a toe and seeing where it takes us”.
A Website is a brand’s key online content anchor, its role in the communications value chain must not be teated lightly.
So what is the maximum number Web metrics I recommend for tracking at a time? 5. Otherwise you run the risk of analysis paralysis.
At eNitiate we track the following 5 Web metrics, based on the 3 questions above:
- Top 10 pages most visited. Blogging is a major part of brand development. Thus, we want to know whether our efforts are bearing fruit. For this purpose, we measure the extent to which blogs feature in our Website’s top 10 pages. We also measure which blogs these are, for insights on content that counts.
- Time on site. Linked directly to the metric above, we know that an adult reads 200-250 words per minute on average. And we know that our average blog is 560 words long, which will take up to 3 minutes to complete reading. This is the reason why we keep tabs on this metric.
By the way, this blog is over 2 800 words long – I am big on long form, clearly.
- Number of page views per user. We use this metric to measure the quality of our content. We know that sticky content on a landing page increases the chance that a reader will be encouraged to read at least one more page.
- Devices used to access our Website. As an example, we know that access through mobile devices has 2 unique characteristics when compared to desktop: a) short durations and b) associated high bounce rates.
As I shall explain later, this has direct impact on site design and content layout. This metric has had a major bearing on our efforts to prioritise ensuring that our Website ticks the mobile-first box.
The reason for this will become obvious when I get to Section 6 in the blog.
- Traffic from social media. We have increased our social media activity for driving traffic to our site. We want to know if this is working.
I shall share interesting insights about the performance of this metric in Sections 4 and 5.
We review our selected set of Website metrics for relevance and effectiveness on an ongoing basis. Some have not changed since we started the online brand building journey in 2009, while others have been substituted in line with annual objectives and changing key insights.
2. Analysis of eNitiate Web stats drove home the need for comparative analysis
In addition to Google analytics, we use Jetpack for our Website analysis. We find that the two platforms complement each other, and this enriches the resultant key insights.
Jetpack, a WordPress plugin, allows us to go back 6 years (to 2014), so we can compare performance of relevant Web metrics over a longer period of time. When it comes to data, the longer to period of analysis the better.
Bear in mind how we measure the performance of our Website, as indicated by the selected 5 metrics in Section 1 above.
As an example, here is a graph that shows the number of blogs we published per annum, over the 6 years to date.
As the Jetpack graph above shows, we have been blogging consistently over 6-year period.
Reasons for the declining number of published blogs? There are three:
- Our blogging activity is increasingly driven by quality of content and less by the quantity. We take more time to put together blog content, which has overtime become more long-form. This is a sign of our levels of expertise in this craft, given that we have been doing it for a decade.
- In addition, we have been marketing our published blogs more aggressively on social media.
The lesser we blog, the more time we have to market the published blogs. As the findings in Section 4 will show, we have done well thus far. But Section 5 shows we can do even better.
- We have also spent enormous amount of time upping our SEO score to ensure that our content can be discovered by Uncle Google, and eventually be found by Internet searchers.
How do I prove that we have improved quality of blog content we have been publishing in later years?
Here below is a basic Google Spreadsheet that has the top 20 eNitiate Website pages by views EVER, which were extracted from Jetpack.
- Half of the top 20 most viewed pages on the eNitiate Website EVER are blogs (denoted by “Y” in the Blogs column).
- Two blogs that were published this year are already in the top 20! These are ranked 10th and 18th in the list.
My bet is that “O jewa ke eng” still has fuel to pack up additional views for a few more months still. Click on the link and check search out the hashtag – #Ojewakeng on Twitter to see what I mean.
- 2015 and 2014 had the highest and second highest number of published blogs respectively (see the graph above in this section), but there are only 2 blogs each from these years in the Top 20 list.
So, despite the length of time and number of blogs, there is no clear correlation between this and the showing by these 2 years in the Top 20 Most Viewed Pages table.
The findings above back my statement that quality of published content has increased over time. Yes, we have also spent time marketing the latest blogs and improving SEO.
However, empirical stats show bad content will not fly just because it is being promoted.
The contribution of Website traffic from organic searches in Section 4 is clear proof that we publish content that is of value to the online community.
Our ability to use various forms of comparative data, from platforms to periods to metrics, allow us to extract rich insights from our analysed findings.
3. eNitiate Web stats show blogging is good for the brand's online presence
Blogging takes time and effort. This is the reason why many companies do not venture into this craft, we suspect.
We are happy we have kept up the pace, because we have tangible proof that this type of activity is good for the brand. What’s more, the length of time has given us invaluable experience.
And there is still a lot of room as we keep raising our own standards of published quality content.
The eNitiaters recently tweeted the top 10 most viewed pages on the Website in the last 30 days to 12 November 2019, somewhat tongue in cheek. We are serious about our business, but we also tone it down a notch when we need to.
Wondering if blogging is good for development of your digital brand?— eNitiate Integrated Solutions (@The_eNitiaters) November 11, 2019
1. Of our top 10 most viewed Web pages in the last 30 days, 8 are blogs.
2. See where blogs about @ShoMadjozi and @akreana_ rank 👇🏾?
Here's our most popular blog: https://t.co/xR5GJ4XvEK#12thGear pic.twitter.com/NJ9HPSAlTW
Publishing of the tweet above was inspired by the recent news that the South African-born artist called Sho Madjozi had a surprise meeting with her crush – John Cena – on Kelly Clarkson’s tv show in the US.
Our published blog that was the second most view page on the eNitiate Website as per the published tweet above, is about Madjozi’s Youtube video views of one of her latest songs called… ‘John Cena’.
Note that the page at the 4th spot in the Top 10 table above – “O jewa ke eng?” is also in the top 20 most viewed pages EVER (captured in a table in Section 2).
When blogs are about topical but still relevant issues that have longevity, this assists in leveraging the content over a. longer period. Granted, we will not always know upfront whether a topic has the longevity characteristics.
However, the more we experiment with the various topics, the more we gain a sense for those that will most likely work. Wisdom truly comes with time.
4. eNitiate Web stats show social media marketing efforts paid off
Google Analytics’ traffic sources comparison over the last 2 years shows that contribution of social media to eNitiate’s Website traffic has more than quadrupled, from 5% in 2018.
Let’s put this into context. Here are the 2019 growths of eNitiate Website’s top 4 traffic sources, compared to 2018.
- As the growth graph above clearly shows, overall visitor (user) traffic doubled in 2019.
- More noticeably, the strong growth came from social media traffic, and we are highly pleased that our focused marketing efforts in promoting the blogs on this channel worked.
Social media traffic is made up of several networks. In line with the principle of comparative analysis, we scratched the surface further for a deeper understanding of the performance of the key networks.
5. A drill-down of social media stats shows traffic from LinkedIn is of the highest quality
A further breakdown of social media stats for the eNitiate Website indicates that Facebook, the largest contributor to this channel’s traffic, does not deliver the best quality of users. Let me use a basic Google Spreadsheet to make the point.
The cells in green denote best social network performer for the given column.
- Facebook is the main source of social traffic. However, this network is not a top performer for many of our key focus metrics – Pages/Visit and Time on Site.
- LinkedIn’s performance is in line with the 2 of our key focus metrics, as mentioned in the finding above.
- We love to get throngs of visitors onto our site. However, we are more interested in the right profile of visitors ahead of just numbers. LinkedIn trumps Facebook in this regard.
- While common sense is that LinkedIn’s traffic should provide the highest quality of the top 3 social networks for the type of blog content we publish on the eNitiate Website, it is always great to use hard indisputable stats to prove this.
- Clearly then, LinkedIn has to receive the most attention directed at the social media channel going forward.
6. eNitiate Web stats show there has been a marked increase in access by mobile phones
2018 contributions to eNitiate Website visits by Desktop and Mobile were 78% and 20% respectively. See what the contributions are in 2019 in the Google Spreadsheet below.
The cells in green denote best device performer for the given column.
- Traffic from mobile phones grew phenomenally in 2019. However, the stats also show that this growth is going to have direct impact on eNitiate Website’s Pages per Visit, and Time Spent on the Site averages, as captured in the table above.
These are two of the 5 metrics we use to gauge eNitiate’s online performance.
This illustrates the mention I made in Section 1 that we assess and readjust expectations and sometime even substitute metrics as learn more about the changing traffic dynamics on the eNitiate Website.
- We know from experience that mainstream social networks are accessed mainly on mobile devices. The finding above is partly explained by the quadrupling of social media’s contribution to the site’s traffic (see Section 4).
- Our site design, which we are already reviewing, currently falls short of being 100% mobile-first.
- We are also addressing site upload speeds that are currently unsatisfactory, as informed by the high mobile bounce rates.
- We have to constantly assess whether our blog content layout is mobile-first. Some of the changes we already effected include increasing font size for better legibility on small screens, and are now ensure the width of images we use in our blogs fits properly within the small screen as well.
7. eNitiate's Web stats show that the brand has a global online presence
Being a Pan-African company, geography of visitors to our Website has always been one of our key metrics.
If at the least, the geography metric has been a constant reminder that our blog content has to be written with the global audience in mind, as the reach for our blogs goes far beyond the “local market”.
Here below is a Jetpack table that plots the Top 10 Countries by Views for 3 periods – This Year to Date, This Month (to 17 November 2019), and Last Week (11-17 November).
Cumulatively, the Top 10 Countries contribute 87%, 91% and 94% respectively to each of the 3 periods’ views.
3 quick navigational points:
- Any country that has appeared in the Top 10 for any of the 3 periods under review is shown in the table.
- Where you see “N/A”, it is because the country in question does not feature in the top 10 for that particular period. As an example, Ireland is in the 5th spot for “This Year”, but does not feature in the top 10 rankings for “This Month” and “Last Week”.
- Colour coding is ranking based. Thus, DARK GREEN denotes top spot, while LIGHT GREEN denotes second spot, and so on. As an example, South Africa was in the top spot for “This Year”, and in second spot for the other two periods.
Thus, the cell colours are in line with the relevant Period ranking colour codes.
You will also notice that United Kingdom has the same DARK BLUE colour across the 3 periods, because its ranking is the same for all of them.
- The top 3 countries have stayed in this range for the 3 periods under review, with South Africa and the US trading places between the top 2 spots over the 3 periods.
- The UK has maintained the same ranking all throughout.
- India and Nigeria are the only other countries that appear in the Top 10 rankings across all the 3 periods.
- Besides South Africa and Nigeria, the 3 other African countries that have appeared in the top 10 at least once are Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. All the 5 African countries appear in Last Week’s top 10.
We blog to an international audience. Thus, our content must always be developed with this in mind, especially in cases where we use local lingo.
Lokhu kubalulekile – an isiZulu phrase loosely translated as “This is an important point to remember”.