John Wilpers, editor of the FIPP Innovation in Magazine Media 2015-2016 World Report offers advice for gathering, organising, analysing, interpreting, and acting on data:
• Collect the traditional measures (page views, unique visitors) because advertisers still like those
• Collect social share data (Facebook posts, shares, retweets, Pinterest pins, etc.) because they demonstrate some level of engagement and contact with non-subscribers/followers
• Collect the newest measures (total time reading, attention, etc.) because they might actually reflect impact and predict behaviour
• Collect the classics (conversions, subscriptions, etc.) because they demonstrate loyalty and commitment
After collecting the data, apply them as appropriate against your biggest challenges and goals (subscriptions, new products, interactions, conversions, return visits, etc.).
Interpret what the data says about your performance in each case and what the data suggests in terms of improvement. Develop an action plan including various tests of your hypotheses that can be proven or disproven by subsequent data.
And then do something with it, because most publishing companies don’t. Almost every publishing company collects and reports data, but too few outside of the mega-publishers have teams (or individuals) tasked with the responsibility to analyse, interpret, and make strategic recommendations based on data.
Wilpers concludes: “In fact, data analysis and interpretation should be the top action item on the agendas of every editorial and advertising meeting. The first order of business should be to examine progress against short-, medium- and long-range goals as indicated by the data, and discuss what the data suggests in terms of strategic and tactical pivots.”