What do Google Analytics and print newspapers have in common? They’re both one day out of date when you read them. I’ve been using Chartbeat for over a month now to track performance of my blog and I find myself looking at Google Analytics much less these days.
In fact, I’m surprised by how antiquated Google Analytics feels.
Chartbeat is a relatively young company and product. I’m not a shareholder and I’m not even actively looking at making an investment. I’m only writing about the product because I’m passionate about it. Basically, it rocks!
Let’s start with what I like most about the product. That’s easy, it’s real time. You can log in at any time and see a realtime indication of how much traffic is on your website, where that traffic is coming from, what stories people are reading and how many people are active vs. inactive. I’m sure in the future they’ll add a whole lot more. But it provides a great cockpit for performance.
I was recently over at the Mahalo offices in Santa Monica and I noticed that they had a great big screen TV with Chartbeat displaying their traffic data. I
asked Tyler Crowley how they used it. He told me that it has become an essential tool to their business. Their staff can see in real time what’s performing and when a story starts becoming hot they can find out the root causes of what’s driving the traffic. For Mahalo this often means making modifications to the story in real time both to update any facts and to improve SEO on a story that is already becoming popular.
Here are some great features with screen shots:
As you’re logged in the right-hand side of the screen scrolls with each new page view on your website. It shows you which story the person is reading, when the clicked on it, where the traffic came from and where the user is located. For example, in the screen shot my my recent visitor found my website by searching on the term “Jason Calacanis” and is located in Tennessee in the US.
The next user down is from India and came to me from India. The next users after that is reading a blog post that I wrote nearly 9 months ago. It’s fun when a story is blowing up to see the right hand side of your screen light up like a pinball machine. It’s addictive.
The middle part of Chartbeat shows the pages that are being read at the moment.
It’s Sunday night as I’m grabbing these screen shots and I haven’t written a post since Saturday morning so traffic is a bit light. But I can always see the correlation between writing a blog or publishing on a social network and traffic. Just to show you an example I’m about to Tweet out an old story and even though it’s a Sunday night at 9pm PT (midnight ET and middle of the night in Europe) I should be able to notice a little bump in traffic. Let’s see.
Both Fred Wilson and Chris Dixon recently wrote blog posts about how the narrative is more important than presenting numbers in your first VC meeting. I tend to agree with them but I think that numbers are important in VC meetings. Most VC’s still expect them and it seems to me to be prepared for what most people are going to ask. I’ll respond to that post another day but for now I just wanted to link back to an old post I had written on the topic to show you how you might actually view Chartbeat post some sort of marketing effort (newsletter, Twitter, Facebook, SEO refresh, whatever). Below are my numbers about 3 minutes after I Tweeted.
It’s now 20 minutes later and there are still 64 people active on my blog. I can now see that some of the people who read my “business plan” post stuck around to read other posts and I can see what they’re reading. Another part of Charbeat that I monitor is traffic sources as shown below. Here you can see that some of my traffic right now is coming from HackerNews (news.ycombinator.com). On occasion I’ll see this number at 200 and know that a post that I did is “blowing up” over there.
Or I might notice 50 incoming links from PEHub (one of my favorite websites and a daily read for me), which is usually my first indication that they’ve covered me that day. On the left nav they cover “minutes on page” and “reading/writing.” This latter section is never accurate – I don’t understand why they have it. I’ve never noticed any correlation between that and reality.
Like most analytics tools I can get my geo map from Chartbeat. I find this addictive. You can scroll around the map and you can see an actually count by location. If I’m up early it’s fun to see this lit up on the East Coast and then by 7.30am PST it’s lit up on California.
Finally, as with any great tool these days it can pull in information about who is talking about my blog in the social networks – mostly Twitter. You’ll see the shot below. It’s a great way to quickly scan whether people are sending out Tweets covering your blog.
Oh, and know I can head over to Google Analytics to see … how I performed yesterday. Yawn.
I’m flipping back to Chartbeat. It’s an hour since I first started this post and I’m still holding strong at North of 60 readers. Oh, and now that I’m hitting publish on this you can imagine I’m enjoying watching my Chartbeat conversions come in.
And final example just for anybody interested / still reading. You can see the Chartbeat report from this AM now that the story has been published. I noticed that traffic is coming in from HackerNews (news.ycombinator.com) so I flipped over there and saw the story on the front page.