The Big Content Real-Time Dashboard Template

Screencap of active visitors Analytics

Rebecca Bridge Sep 6 2013

Screencap of Real Time Content Dashboard

You’ve heard the saying “content is king!” so many times by now that it’s become a joke. A joke that isn’t funny and doesn’t even accurately depict the real role of content. Content is what your visitors see when they come to your site. It’s how you engage with them. It is the key to building long-term authority for the sites you work on. It’s what they remember about you. Content isn’t king. It doesn’t rule over other elements of the site. Content is the whole darn kingdom.

Okay, that’s great, content is a fiefdom, Rebecca, but what’s your point? My point is that if we need to take all of the content we create seriously, that means measuring the data, learning from what we’ve done, and tweaking and making improvements for future content projects. To that end, my co-worker, the Google Analytics Whisperer Michael Wiegand, and I designed this Big Content Real-Time Dashboard to help you do just that for your 10% content. And we’re giving you the template. For free. Download it here. (If you don’t know how to install a dashboard template, hold off on downloading it until you’ve reviewed the how-to at the end of this post.)

Hang on. 10% content? What’s that?!? There’s a great post about it here so I won’t go into too many details, but basically, 10% content is what we Portentites call the bigger, riskier pieces of content that can help draw attention to your brand, improve your reputation, and add lasting value to your site. Here at Portent, we’re increasingly focusing on producing some really awesome 10% content for our clients and we wanted an easy way to measure our success – or failure – starting right at the moment we begin our outreach campaign and through the lifecycle of the content piece. So we created a comprehensive dashboard.

Big Content Real-Time Dashboard

You’ll find help on how to install and set-up your dashboard at the bottom of this post. But first, let’s take a closer look at the elements – what Google Analytics (GA) calls “widgets” – that make up this Big Content dashboard masterpiece and why they are important things to record and track.

Active vs. Static

Screencap of Real Time Content Dashboard Static Boxes

There are both active and static elements to the dashboard.

The active ones are real-time and will change by the second. The static elements are dependent on the date range you have set. The real-time measurements will be important to monitor during your campaign to get an idea about how well your outreach is working. For example, if your active visitors on-site suddenly falls from 100 to 0, it might be time for a new tweet or Facebook post to get the content back in front of potential consumers.

The static elements will be important to measure over the lifecycle of the content piece. These metrics will give you an idea of how your content performs in relation to all of the other content on your site. You’ll be able to use the insight you gather to make improvements and tweaks for your next big piece of content. You can also use it to prove the value of the content to decision makers within your organization or your clients’ companies. You know what happens when they start to see the impact of big content? You get to do more. Booyah!

Goal Completions

Goal Completions screencap

Front and center on the Real-Time Dashboard is a widget that shows your goal completions. By default the dashboard has all goal completions set. That means that any goals you’ve set site-wide will be measured on the specific piece of content this dashboard is measuring. We’ve put it first on the dashboard interface because it can have the most impact on proving the value of the big content you’ve produced.

Depending on the objective of your piece of content, you might want to only measure for a project-specific goal, though, especially if you’re working to improve brand awareness rather than get conversions. In that case, you’ll want to make Engaged Visitors your goal, which means you’ll have to create a goal just for this piece of content. Here’s how you can do that:

Setting Goals

An engaged visitor is a visitor who spends more time than average on the site. To determine what that means, you have to first find how long your average visitor spends on the site as a baseline measurement.  Check out the Audience > Overview report. The Avg. Visit Duration is the metric that gives you the site-wide measurement.

Real Time Content Dashboard Screencap Overview box

Next, you’ll need to create your new goal. In order to do this, visit the Admin > View Goals section and click “Create Goal”:

Chart of YouTube extract

Goal Description screencap

Choose anywhere from 2x – 10x your average visit duration for the goal setting, depending on what you believe will represent a truly engaged visitor:

Goal Details screencap

Active Visitors

Screencap of active visitors

The next real-time widget is your Active Visitors which shows you how many visitors are currently on your site. As I stated before, measuring this regularly can give you a good idea of when you might need to refresh your outreach efforts. It will also help you monitor how much traffic you’re getting from each outreach element and inform you of the best places to expend more time, energy, and resources.

Active Visitors by Source

Active Visitors by Source screencap

Next up, you’ll find another real-time widget, the Active Visitors by Source widget. Keeping your eye on this metric will help you understand where your current traffic is coming from. Understanding this will help you make on-the-fly tweaks to your outreach strategy as you determine what’s working and what isn’t.

Active Visitors by New vs. Returning

Active visitors new vs returning screencap

The New vs. Returning widget will give you a real-time look at what kind of consumer is currently active on your piece of content. If there are lots of new visitors, you know that your outreach is working to effectively drive traffic to the site. A lot of returning visitors, on the other hand, can be indicative that your piece of content is acquiring “content evangelists” – essentially that your content is engaging enough to draw people back to the site.

Active Visitors by Location

Active visitors by location screencap

The Active Visitors by Location is another real-time widget that can help boost your content campaign. Keeping an eye on this data can help you understand the regional appeal of your content, where people are consuming it, and help give you some ideas to shift your outreach resources.

Pageviews in the Last 30 Minutes

Pageviews in the last 30 minutes screencap

The final real-time widget is the Pageviews in the Last 30 minutes graph. This gives you a look at how your content is performing within a fairly short window. It’s helpful if you can’t monitor the dashboard 24/7 to at least get a 30-minute window into the not-so-distant past. By comparing this chart to your outreach efforts, you can glean some pretty valuable information on how each element of your outreach plan is working. For example, if you know that someone influential has tweeted about your content, you can keep an eye on your pageviews to get an understanding about just how much impact a single tweet from an influencer really can have. If it’s a lot, you can configure future outreach plans to have more social outreach and less email.

Pageviews

Pageviews screencap

This is a static measurement and will give you an idea about how many people visited your piece of content over a specific amount of time. It’s a valuable metric for determining the overall appeal of a piece of content throughout its lifecycle.

Uniques

Unique page views screencap

This will measure the number of unique visitors your big content garners over a specific time period and is useful for determining the overall reach of the content. Essentially, it allows you to know how many unique pairs of eyes landed on your big content.

Uniques by Source and Visitor Type

Uniques by Source and Visitor Type screencap

Next, the static Uniques by Source and Visitor Type graph is a simple way to determine how many unique visitors your piece of content drew over a specified amount of time and from which sources. This metric can be vital in understanding what outreach worked, who your content appealed to, and how you can tailor future content campaigns for maximum effectiveness and success. The blue and green in each bar is the New vs. Returning breakdown we discussed earlier.

Avg. Time on Page, Bounce Rate, and Exit Rate

Page metrics screencap

Finally, you have static widgets Avg. Time on Page, Bounce Rate, and Exit Rate. Keeping an eye on these over the lifecycle of your big content can help you understand how site visitors responded to the content in comparison to all other content on the page. Are they staying on the site longer? Are they continuing on to other content? Did they just stop by for that piece and then leave? The better you understand how the public interacted with your big content, the more you can do to tailor it to your reader the next time you create a piece.

Installing and Configuring the Dashboard

Installation

Installing this dashboard is a fairly straightforward process. Simply open up your GA page and then cut and paste the following link into your browser’s location bar—aka the spot where URLs usually go: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1068218

You will be prompted to add it to a profile. Add it to the profile where you’ll be staging your big content.

Configuration

Since this is meant to be used for a single piece of content, all the widgets in the dashboard will need to be configured to the page on your site you want to measure.

In this case, I’m measuring our Title Maker.

Make sure you set every widget in the dashboard to only show the page exactly matching your URL:

final screencap

tags : dashboardsgoogle analytics

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9 Comments

  1. Great information Rebecca, thanks. I will use this to set up my Google Analytics account and make it useful at last.

    I have to say that the quality of posts coming out of portent at the moment is amazing! Every one is teaching me loads. This is the only site that I have on email subscription that I bother to check instantly – thanks for the hard work.

    • Rebecca Bridge

      Rebecca Bridge

      Thanks, Ian 2.0 (sorry, Ian is already taken here at Portent ;) I’ve been really proud of a lot of the work people here are doing, it’s really nice to hear that people are noticing it.

  2. Thank you very much Rebecca, a really useful resource. I love how more and more people are taking real-time dashboards seriously.

    • Rebecca Bridge

      Rebecca Bridge

      It’s amazing how simple they can make monitoring your efforts with both short-and long-term goals. Of course, you have to be careful about the conclusions you draw with real time analytics, but they can be quite helpful. Thanks, Christopher!

  3. Jeff

    Thanks for the post! Analytics is one of those things that everyone knows about they just don’t know how to turn it to their advantage. They’re so helpful in determining the success of a site and it’s value.

  4. Great stuff. I’m going to share it on AAF Seattle’s LinkedIn page http://j.mp/AAFSeattleLinkedIn.

    Where were you when I was looking for content strategists to be panelists for our next Speaker Series event, “Content Is Your Brand?”

    If you’re interested (Digital Kitchen CEO Bill Fritsch will be moderating) you can find more info here: http://aafcontent.eventbrite.com

    • Rebecca Bridge

      Rebecca Bridge

      Wow, that looks like a really great panel! Thanks for the support. Generating new ideas regarding how to make the qualitative quantitative has been both a challenge and a rewarding experience. And also helping people understand that content isn’t just the icing on the cake, it IS the cake. Thanks, Luis!

  5. This is a great dashboard. However, the dashboard template that I downloaded from the link in your post has a filter for a page in it. I only found that after debugging for a while, because all my stats were 0. You should remove the filters from the dashboard. You can find the updated template (without the content filters) at https://www.google.com/analytics/web/template?uid=WoMVwudCRmOTxpTFrOpR9Q

    • Rebecca Bridge

      Rebecca Bridge

      Hey, Virendra, thanks! Yes, we left the filter as a placeholder meant to be replaced by *your* content URL. If we remove the filter in the template, then it takes stats from the whole site, which isn’t the point of this particular dashboard, but thanks for offering up an easy work around for readers!

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