Analytics: Pushing Readers’ Buttons 7


Last week I posted a saucy post with a photo of an attractivish bare-legged woman giving a presentation to a group of also-pantless colleagues. I included a title that used the word “sexy” and the popular tag “NSFW.” Friends dropped their jaws. Strangers lined up to get in…and guess what? People started stumbling the site so quickly in just under a minute that it blew a gasket on my host, as best I can tell thus far.

Here’s what I’ve noticed about this site, and about other blogs, in general: with all the great content out there, none of it makes a squat of difference without an audience. In short, people have to see your posts, like your site, the people on it, they way you do things, and the attitude you do it with. It doesn’t mean you have to “stoop” to anything “low-brow”, it just means looking at what gets a human being’s attention, and then pulling whatever triggers create the desired response. Context should generally still apply. And care in creating your title is the most important aspect of all.

In the end, there is just too much quality content covering identical topic areas to select on the basis of quality alone. Good content is not in shortage on the net. Engaging teasers and differentiating angles that lead to good content, on the other hand….now those are always at a premium around a virtual water-cooler. If the content is good, it’s going to get passed on.

Click to zoom in on the two traffic spikes.

As you can see to the right, on the day I ran my saucy little piece on June 28th, a spike in the traffic for that week occurred that proves my point about teasers being the first step. I stumbled the article myself on StumbleUpon, and then the title and the post image alone garnered another 30 stumbles within just seconds–and then POOF! The page broke and the stumbles stopped for some reason I wasn’t able to track in real time. Incidentally, the jump from stumbleupon, or some other gremlin on the backend, caused the post to cease to load correctly. I have no idea yet as to exactly why. I left the affected post intact as it was for the sake of today’s post.

On a previous Friday the week prior, as you can also see, Will Reichard posted his colorful piece about overcoming social media fears with the title “You May as Well Fear Phone Calls“. It had a significantly less(but still) cheeky post image, but it also had the impact of getting the blood pumping in an arguably more visceral way by spelling out a common fear among social media newbies. It’s the highest spike on the chart for the month, in fact, while my post was only the second highest (although more widely seen overall). My post got 30+ total stumbles (about 25 in approximately 30 seconds or less, as best I could tell). And while bounce-rates were slightly higher for that busier day’s new visits, subscriptions went up by approximately 30%! Will’s got considerably more retweets because it was more immediately RT-friendly (less wild and thus less anonymous). Both got superior overall statistics from returning and new visits. There is a lot to unpack here that only time will fully unravel, but this is useful data because the varying numbers are so disparate.

In reality the key ingredient to getting clicks is just to get the blood pumping by pushing the right buttons (you also have to get the post link seen, of course!). Once a writer makes that important connection (get seen-get clicked-engage), everything else becomes clearer. Once they’re on the other side of that click, making the visitor care about a post on a deep-level is about circulation of the blood within the post (engagement). Again, circulation of the blood, every bit as much as about circulation of the link on Twitter or a social bookmarking site, is key. After all, they found you in most cases via a a connection or a keyword search on a social site (on my June 28th post, that would have most likely been the tag “NSFW”, which as one colorful Mashable writer has noted, works all too easily. Thing is, the spicy nature of the teaser can translate into sharing the quality content within the post, which gives rise to the potential for a strong viral meme.

So what do we take away from this?

Analytics allow you to spot a spike and begin to isolate and identify likely causes. 

The addition of analytics and a watchful eye turns a blogger into a blogger who is also a marketer. And a talented blogger/marketer is someone who can see trends, as well as influence and even create one or two now and then. Knowing how to push the target viewer’s buttons is key to getting good content from the teens to the hundreds or thousands of views almost overnight–the “overnight success” you may have heard Chris Brogan and others talk about at various times. Who doesn’t want that for their site?

Stay tuned next week for the next spicy installment of this analytics series. Don’t worry, I’ll keep it simple and focused on the results. I may begin to intersperse these with my usual topical pieces that focus on social media strategy. You’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.

Photo credit


About Mark Brimm

Mark Brimm is President of 123interface.com, the Founder of Marcana.com, and runs a personal blog on social media, marketing and entrepreneurship at MarkBrimm.com. He also runs a blog on SEO & SEM at SEMinsider.com.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Analytics: Pushing Readers’ Buttons -- Topsy.com()

  • Great post, Mark, and it also shows the power of StumbleUpon–which as I understand drives fewer referrals than only Facebook. I've called it the “sleeper network” for this reason. It may be small, but people use the heck out of it. OK, headed off to Stumble this now. Thanks again!

  • Thanks, Will. I guess my point about StumbleUpon (and others) was that in many cases it may depend completely on the temperature of the teaser. Also, I've seen that strategy and tactics articles on marketing won't get play unless they're by a social media or marketing celebrity, whereas an interesting story has to evolve a bit in the teaser dimension.

  • Mark, you were clear but I wasn't. I was only adding to your points. You're
    completely right on this topic–you've got to have some “sizzle” to sell.
    It's an old human trait–we like a good story. We need a “hook.” And really,
    there aren't that many basic hooks when you get right down to it.

    Sorry–I just take it for granted that you're writing great posts but I
    didn't take the time to say that. It is a great one!

  • I think I may have misread a phrase, my bad. Your input makes perfect sense now. StumbleUpon as second only to Facebook in referrals. Need more iced coffee… You somehow gave me a great idea for a bookmarking post. Perhaps down the line, since I am due for another strategy post next week. Good points!. StumbleUpon is a sleeper network. If only BizSugar were as well used.

  • Images are key.

    When you lead with text that suggests powerful imagery, it generates curiosity.

    Pictures trigger the unconscious immediately. It takes seconds for text to fully penetrate the brain and to create an emotional impact. Text mainly functions to maintain arousal and to persuade the intellectual portions of the brain. In most cases, the text is there to make the reader feel more comfortable with a decision that they've already made.

  • I agree. There is a process that begins immediately with the teaser title and/or image (image usually takes precedence, for better or for worse). The text usually serves to solidify a latent impulse within the initial curiosity, even if challenging preconceptions.