5 Ratios All Online Publishers Must Measure

Acting on the results of these five online publishing metrics will boost SEO, email conversion rates, and email revenue

We often see publishers unsure of which metrics they should measure for online publishing success. Or more likely, they know which metrics are important, but they aren’t sure how to improve them. Or even more common, they aren’t sure how their numbers compare to other online publishers.

As long as the numbers are going up (or down, depending) you’re doing well. While there are plenty of metrics to pay attention to, we’ve found that acting on the results of these metrics can make all the difference in your online publishing business. Here are 5 ratios all online publishers must measure:

  1. Google Visibility Index
  2. Site-wide email conversion rate
  3. Revenue per M (RPM) emails sent
  4. Revenue per M (RPM) impressions
  5. Email opt-out rate

These key metrics create a dashboard that tells the publisher how fast the website is growing and how that growth is being powered by the website team’s efforts.

1. Google Visibility Index

The question: Where am I in Google? Am I a wallflower, or am I one of Google’s key players?

Your Google Visibility index tells you where you rank on your most popular keywords. To calculate this ratio, you must know the keywords you’re looking to rank on. Using this metric, you can either define a successful page that is ranking well, or beef up pages that are not.

The ratio: Your Google Visibility Index metric is your estimated search impressions divided by total searches for a given keyword universe at a point in time.

2. Site-wide email conversion rate

The question: How many casual visitors to my site am I converting into email subscribers?

Any website analytics tool can measure your unique monthly visitors, but projecting optimal email conversion rate (ECR) requires a calculation.

Most publishers we’ve studied are only implementing one basic email capture on their site. Thus, they are only seeing a 0.1 to 0.2% web-to-email conversion rate.

Using the six types of conversion architecture, you will get the highest ECR.  These conversion architecture page elements are called OFIEs, OFINs, floater order forms, display ads, text ads, and simple text links. If you are using all six, you could be seeing a conversion rate as high as 12%.

If you can double your ECR, you will double the size of your subscriber file over five years (or any fixed period).

The ratio: To get your site-wide email conversion rate, divide the total number of new email subscribers you acquired via your website in one month by the total number of unique visitors you received in that month—5% is a good number.

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3. Revenue per M (RPM) emails sent

The question: How much money do I make every time I send out an email?

Many publishers use email circulation as a primary metric for measuring their online success. We’ve seen revenue per email subscriber vary from $10 per year for B2C publishers to as high as $80 per year for B2B publishers.

Depending on your contact frequency, you can severely limit (or improve) your revenue per thousand emails sent.

The ratio:
To get your revenue per M emails sent, the ratio is email revenue divided by emails sent, often in a single effort. Then, multiply that number by 1000.

4. Revenue per M (RPM) impressions

The question: For every thousand impressions I get on my website, how much money am I making?

Your revenue per thousand impressions is a very critical metric, especially if you’re ad-driven. This metric can pinpoint productive or unproductive website design changes and can indicate how well your site converts casual visitors into paying customers.

The ratio: To get your revenue per M impressions, divide your website revenue by your number of unique visitors, for a specific period of time. Then, multiply that number by 1000.

5. Email opt-out rate

The question: Am I serving my email audience? What causes them to opt-out?

As publishers, we focus on our email list moreso than possibly any other online business. Content is our specialty, and this is why we depend on email to keep our readers engaged and actively involved in our business.  This is also why it’s very important to track our opt-out rate, to effectively watch what our users respond to—and to change, when necessary.

The ratio: To get your email opt-out rate metric—both voluntary and bounced—divide your number of opt-outs by the average number of email subscribers for a given period.

Management by exception

We’re big fans of what we call “Management by Exception”, which means regularly reviewing a standard set of daily, weekly, or monthly metric reports, looking to see if something is above average, way above average, or way below average.

The idea is to manage for the things that are coming out differently than they have in the past or than you thought they would. These five metrics above will help alert you to any problems or opportunities you may have in your online business.


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