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Strategic insights
Identifying Your Real Readers, Not Just Traffic

When it comes to web analytics, we have no idea how many people actually read an article, nor how many of our visitors consider themselves to be readers.

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Written by on August 16, 2011

Here is a simple question. How many readers do you have? Real readers? Not unique visitors or other misleading statistics.

Several newspapers have studied how many of their readers who are willing to pay for news. the result was that about 5% say they would. But when you look at what actually happens online we are not reaching 5%:

  • 0.68% has subscribed to New York Times
  • 1.9% has subscribed to the Financial Times
  • GigaOm Pro is around 0.4%
  • The Times is around 0.5%.
  • ...and I am seeing the same with Baekdal Plus.

That is nowhere near 5%.

Part of the problem is probably the way the surveys were made. The newspapers would call people and ask, "are you a reader of New York Times?" and if people said yes they would ask, "would pay for online news?"

They are only asking the people who consider themselves to be readers. If you just picked a copy of the New York Times while waiting for the train, you don't consider yourself a reader. A reader is someone who reads the paper on a regular basis.

The 5% is probably right. The question is just ...5% of what?

When it comes to web analytics, we have no idea how many people actually read an article--nor how many of our visitors consider themselves to be readers.

Real readers are a combination of several things. It is a person who sees several articles, read the articles (as opposed to just clicking on them), comes back often and is not referred from another site.

Let's analyze these one by one.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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