There are tons of social networks out there and only so many that you can focus (quality) time and effort on. One of the most common questions I see asked is “what social networks should I focus on?” and the answer is always, “focus on the networks that work for you and your demographic.”
But the truth is that most bloggers have no idea how to measure “what works” when it comes to social media. Most times, they'll base their efforts off traffic, without taking into account whether or not that traffic drives revenue.
For bloggers, “revenue” can be difficult to measure on a granular level. They are usually monetizing via affiliate links, ad sales and AdSense and other methods not as easily tracked as if you were selling products.
So how do you know where to focus?
Well, if you followed my advice a few months back and integrated your AdSense into your Google Analytics account, you now have enough data available to draw some conclusions with. If you don't currently have your AdSense hooked into your analytics, stop what you're doing and do it right now. Then bookmark this post and come back to it in a month or two to run the research below.
What kind of “revenue” can we track?
There are tons and tons of different “success metrics” we can track. But in this post, I'll be sticking to two of the most common ones for bloggers (in the coming weeks, we'll be discussing how to track and increase other types of revenue). Below I'll cover how to:
- Find out which social networks drive you the most AdSense revenue
- Find out which social networks drive you the most email list sign ups
How to find out which social networks generate the most AdSense revenue
Once again, you have to connect AdSense and Google Analytics to be able to see this data. And keep in mind that connecting AdSense and Analytics will not give you data retroactively. It will only show your AdSense data in Analytics moving forward.
Assuming you have them integrated and have for a while now, open Google Analytics, click the website you'd like to see information for and navigate to the “Behavior” tab in the left sidebar. Then click on AdSense > AdSense Referrers. This report will show you which referrers make you the most in AdSense revenue. However, this is not social only – it will also include referrals from other sites, etc. If you're very social, you'll probably be able to get a quick overview of which networks drive traffic without driving AdSense revenue and which ones do. You should allocate your time accordingly.
If you get a lot of referral traffic, this generic Referrers view can get a little overwhelming. However, there is a way to get a much cleaner view.
Creating a custom “AdSense Revenue by Social Network” report
- Go to Behavior in the right sidebar and Click on AdSense > AdSense pages. Doing this will open up a report that will show you which pages on your site are generating AdSense revenue.
- To the top left of this report, you will see a link that says “Customize.” Click it, and another screen will pop up.
- Change the report title to “AdSense Revenue By Social Network.”
- Leave everything under Metric Groups > AdSense alone.
- Under Dimension Drilldowns, you will see two green boxes that say “Page” – leave those alone.
- Click on the faded green box in that section that says “Add Dimension.” A drop down will appear.
- Type in “Social Network” and choose the green “Social Network” box that appears.
- Now you'll have a darker green “Social Network” box on the bottom of the list. Drag that box to the top of the list of green buttons, above the two “Page” boxes.
- Click save.
You have just created a custom report in Analytics that will show you your AdSense revenue broken down by social network. Now we have a nice and neat list of all our AdSense revenue (and eCPM, Impressions, etc.) broken down by social network.
(not set) is all the AdSense revenue not generated as a result of a referral from a social network. Clicking on the name of any network in this list will show you the specific pages generating the revenue from these networks. If AdSense is your primary revenue stream, then you now have actual data showing you which social networks will provide the most bang for your buck.
How to find out which social networks drive the most confirmed (double opted in) email list sign ups
An email list is one of your most valuable assets as a blogger. To find out what is driving you the most sign ups, you'll need to be tracking (confirmed) email list sign ups as goals in Google Analytics. I use Aweber because it's awesome. Their instructions for tracking confirmed list subscriptions can be found here. Aside from how to set up a custom thank you page, the instructions should be the same no matter which service you use. (If you don't have a mailing list – stop reading – Go to Aweber right now, sign up and get a sign-up box on your site. Go. I'll wait.)
Once you've been tracking goals for a bit, login to Google Analytics, click the website you want to see data for and click on the “Conversions” tab in the left sidebar. Then click on “Goals” > “Overview.”
On this main screen, you'll see some basic stats about your Goals. Near the bottom of this report, you'll see a “Source/Medium” tab on the left. Click it, and you'll see a general list of which sites drive you list sign ups.
To see a nice and neat list of Goal Conversions and Goal Conversion Rates grouped by social network, you'll need to create a custom report.
Creating a custom “Goal Conversions by Social Network” report
- Click “Customizations” in the top navigation bar
- Click on “New Custom Report.”
- I named this report “Goal Conversions by Social Network.”
- Add the “completions” and “conversion rate” for the goal you want to track under Metrics.
- Under Dimension Drilldowns, add “Social Network” as a dimension.
- Under “Social Network” add “Page” as a dimension.
- Save the report.
Now we have a clear list of newsletter sign up completions by social network and the conversion rate for each social network as well. (not set) is all the goal completions not generated as a result of a referral from a social network.
You can also click on any of the social networks listed to see which pages specifically generated the email sign ups.
Barely skimming the surface
There are tons of metrics and dimensions to play with adding to these basic reports, but I wanted to make this tutorial easy enough for even the beginner blogger to follow. Even in their basic form, these reports can give us a clear list of where we should be spending our social time if increasing newsletter subscriptions is a primary goal. If you have any dimensions you think would create actionable insights in these reports, feel free to drop them in the comments below.
I'll be offering up some bonus tips on this topic in this week's Sound Bites, so make sure to subscribe, so you don’t miss out.
You might also want to check out these posts:
- Integrating AdSense into Google Analytics (& why you need to do it right now)
- How to get actionable data from the new Google AdSense reporting interface
- How using AdSense Channels can help increase your AdSense revenue