Web Traffic Analysis
If you are driving traffic to a website, you probably use Google Analytics (or something similar). I won’t go into explaining how to set this up. I will just explain what you need to look at now and how to use any web traffic software to analyze your results.
So, let’s look at the data. Here is what you should be looking for:
You’re starting with driving traffic. All the advanced analytics stuff that many people are often talking about doesn’t make much sense for you right now. What you want to look at are two things:
1. What is your “normal” traffic.
This is important: How can you expect to see more traffic, when you don’t know what you are looking for. Don’t go looking for “viral traffic spikes”, that is not what you are after. You are after a constant and decent increase in social traffic. Something you can build upon. So the first step is to determine your base traffic. Know what you are increasing from. How many visitors do you currently get per day. Or per hour, depending on how much traffic you currently get.
2. And how much of that is social traffic.
Here is what to do now: Look at all your traffic. Now, find out which part of the traffic is coming from social sources. Google Analytics let’s you do this via
>“Acquisition” > “Social” > “Overview”
On this view, you can now also select different social networks and see the traffic coming from them.
To analyze whether you are getting results, examine both of these metrics once every day. Don’t be frustrated if results don’t come as quickly as you think they should. You are after a constant social traffic increase, not spikes.
(Sidenote: Traffic spikes from posts turning viral are nothing bad. Enjoy them when you have them. But there are very few occasions when they can be planned. They are in most cases not a strategy – usually it is just plain luck.)
Here you have it. If both metrics grow, you are doing something right. Continue to grow and optimize and you are getting somewhere.
Analyze in real-time: Run quick traffic experiments
There is another section of Google Analytics that you should look at. That is the real time view. It shows you if you are getting clicks and where they are coming from right now.
This allows you to do quick experiments. Try the following:
- Tweet an article of yours, using the original title as a tweet
- Look whether the article is getting clicks
- Repeat the same steps at a later time, but this time use a different title in your tweet
- Compare results
This process is not a completely scientific approach, as there are many factors that might have a bad influence on your results. But in the long run, it will allow you to gain an overview over which post titles work and which don’t. This is also important for the next section which will talk about the importance of titles.
Optimization Part 1: Learn the art of creating headlines
Creating catchy headlines is not part of content creation itself. Whenever I write a new article, I don’t have a final title for it before I finished the post.
When I finish a post, I usually send the post (including a working title) around the office for review. After I get feedback on the article, I say: “Let’s brainstorm titles.”
And basically we all start brainstorming catchy titles that fit the post in our skype group chat.
We usually end up with 5 to 10 alternatives. We select one first, publish the article with it and run a few tests on Twitter, seeing whether we achieve results. If we find, that a different headline works better, we change the headline.
There is absolutely no way to identify which headlines draw traffic and which get ignored before they have been seen by an audience. Sometimes changing one word can turn a post from a looser to a winner. This is another reason why Twitter is so important: On Twitter you can test your headlines before publishing the post on other networks.
I could tell you about which types of headlines work and which don’t, but I will not. Because this is highly dependent on your niche, and it also does change over time. Instead, here is what you should do:
- Look at your niche (blogs, influencers, etc.)
- Examine the existing headlines and use similar ones
- Get a feeling for what works and what doesn’t
- Optimize from there
You should also open “viral media sites” like BuzzFeed or Upworthy often. These sites build most of their traffic on optimizing headlines, and they know exactly what types of headlines currently run well and which don’t. These are good places to get ideas from.
Optimization Part 2: What else can you optimize?
A large part of optimization will be focused on headlines. But there are other things you can optimize:
1. Best times to tweet/post:
Facebook has a feature in the Fanpage insights where they show you at which times the most followers are online. Make sure to have a post at this time every day.
The same feature is available for Twitter, but not as easy. You need to use a third party tool for this. A few tools offer this functionality (i.e. SEMRUSH).
2. Add images to tweets, provide the right image sizes for Facebook and other social networks
Each social network has its own preferred image sizes. And to make it more complicated, they are changing from time to time. So go ahead and Google the current preferred sizes for the ones you are using. If you use Canva to create images – it has most of them as predefined sizes available.
Twitter is slightly special in that regard. You have to attach an image manually before being able to post a tweet with an image. You also should not use an image on every single tweet, as it makes your feed look funny – instead, use the occasional image to make your stream more interesting and focus the attention on certain tweets.
3. Test everything
Everything on social media can always be improved. I can only give hints to what worked for me. But you will need your own tests. When cat pictures got popular on Facebook, people started testing cats versus dogs (cats won).
So go ahead – make assumptions, test them, monitor traffic, come up with conclusions. Make new assumptions, rerun.
Ok, until now I only gave you more to do. Now starts the part that will make this easier again: Automation.
Automation tools and how to use them
There are many social media automation tools, and a lot of them can be very valuable for any social media strategy. In fact, there are far to many social media automation tools to list them all here. Let me instead give you a list of things that you can automate:
- Direct Messages and Tweets mentioning other Twitter users
- Queues of social media posts – for about any network
- Content Curation – there are tools that will allow you to get more and better content for any network – content that is likely to bring value to your followers and fans
- Tools that automate your cross promotion activities
- And many more…
The most important thing to keep in mind with marketing automation should be that the value that you bring to your followers, fans and subscribers should always be your main focus. Whenever you automate something – ask yourself if you are simply trying to send more messages in a shorter time or whether you are trying to bring value to your followers.