Statistics for online magazines: advanced

In the previous blog about statistics we discussed the basics of Google Analytics. Now I’d like to go a bit deeper into methods for measuring the effectiveness of your magazine. You can use segments to examine the behavioral differences between different groups of visitors. The exit rate and events metrics will give you an even more detailed insight into how your visitors read your magazine: where do they leave your magazine, where are they most active?

Analyse visitor groups with segments

The default data presented by Google Analytics gives you a general idea of your visitors’ activities. But just how interesting is it to know that your magazine’s average visit duration is four minutes and ten seconds? It’s much more interesting to know that one portion of your target audience spends more time reading your magazine than others. You can obtain these kinds of metrics by using segments to isolate groups of visitors and compare them to one another. By creating multiple segments, you’ll find differences in behavior and interests between various sub-groups. To get the right statistics for analysis, however, it is vital to set a clear goal for your magazine! Learn how you can define a super clear goal with even more concrete objectives.

What are segments?
Segments are groups of visitors: subsets of your magazine’s traffic. For example, you’ll be able to measure weather visitors coming from an email view more pages or visit your magazine for a longer period of time than those coming from a link on Facebook. Segments also enable you to distinguish between mobile, tablet and desktop visitors to your magazine, and analyse their behavior. Do smartphone users read as much of your magazine as those using larger devices?

Tip: Use UTM codes to keep track of where your visitors come from.

Default segments and custom segments
Analytics lets you choose from a number of default segments such as All Visits, New Visitors and Returning visitors. In addition to these segments, you can create custom segments based on demographics, devices and OS, behavior, date of first session and traffic sources.

Creating segments for each magazine
Have you listed multiple magazines under a single UA code in Analytics? Then all your visitor data will be amalgamated, and you will soon be unable to see the forest for the trees! You should create a segment for each magazine so that you can analyse each one separately.

  • On the Reporting page, click the Add segment > New segment button and then click on Conditions under Advanced.
  • Set the filter to Page and then exactly matches.
  • Enter the name of your /title/issue in the text box.

For example, you can create a segment for each edition of your online magazine with the following Page: /newsletter/October and for the next edition: Page: /newsletter/November. Then you can easily compare the statistics of your various editions!

What are the most important metrics?

Creating segments means you will generate a great deal of visitor data for each issue in Analytics. But which metrics are the most important? Our blog about the basics of Analytics looks at traffic sources, main content, mobile, visit duration, visit depths and conversions. But you can also go a step further by analysing exit rates and visitor actions (events).

Exit rate: where do visitors click away?
The exit rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your magazine on a specific page after having first visited multiple pages. This is different than the bounce rate: this is the percentage of visitors viewing only one page and then leaving your magazine. By monitoring the exit rate, you’ll see how well the various pages of your magazine perform. You can view the exit rate in Analytics at: Behaviour > Site Content > Exit Pages > Secondary dimension: Page title.

Exit Rate Analytics

For example, if you have a fixed issue rhythm, you can use the exit rate to look for trends among a number of different magazines. Logically, the exit rate will be higher on the last page, but you might discover that readers tend to click away from specific regular features or columns. If you notice a high exit rate on a page featuring a blog, then it is likely that your readers do not find the content of the blog to be interesting or relevant enough. But note: the context is also important. If one of your magazine’s pages refers to an offer or to your website’s contact page, then a high exit rate will be desirable!

Tip: check how your magazine reaches your readers by measuring engagement on content.

Measuring events: how do users use your magazine?
Events measure different actions carried out by the visitor: for example, how often a magazine is shared, how many times a video is viewed and how often an overlay is opened. You’ll find events in Analytics at Behaviour  > Events > Overview.

An event consists of three dimensions: event category, event action, and event label. An example of a category is videos, the action may be playing, and the label indicates the event’s context (e.g. which video is played, the URL of an outbound click, or which hotspot is opened). Have you added a UA code to your magazine? Then we automatically measure all sorts of additional events, providing you with even more data. That’s very convenient, because it requires no action on your part! We measure and record the following events:

Category Action Label
SCROLL DOWN, UP, CLICK Down or Up (click on nav. arrows), scroll percentage
NAVIGATIONBAR CLICK, CLOSE, PRINTPOPUP, MORE Button clicked in the navigation bar
DEVICE ROTATE, SWITCH SIZE The viewing orientation (portrait / landscape)
GALLERY CLICK What is clicked (next, previous, open, close)
GESTURE SWIPETOPAGE The swiped-to page
ITEM OPEN, CLOSE The slide that is opened
OVERLAY OPEN, CLOSE The overlay that is opened
OUTBOUND CLICK The link destination
PAGEINDEX CLICK The page that is clicked
HIGHLIGHTS CLICK The highlight that is clicked
HIGHLIGHTSMOBILE CLICK A highlight touched on a mobile device
NAVIGATIONBARPAGE OPEN, CLOSE Cascading items that are clicked in nav. bar (e.g. publishing details)
MOBILE-PAGEINDEX CLICK The page touched on a mobile device
EDITIONINDEX CLICK The edition that is clicked
SEARCH OPEN, CLOSE The search term entered
FORM SUBMIT SUCCESS, SUBMIT INVALID The form that is completed
SHAREMAIL SHARE The page that is shared
SHAREFACEBOOK SHARE The page that is shared
SHARELINKEDIN SHARE The page that is shared
SHAREGOOGLEPLUS SHARE The page that is shared
MEDIA PLAY, FINISHED The media file being played (SoundCloud)
MOBILE-EDITIONS CLICK The edition touched on a mobile device

Finally, custom dashboards

This blog covers how to get more out of Analytics: create custom segments to gain more insight into various groups of visitors and compare your various editions, and analyse the exit rate and events metrics to see where visitors leave your magazine or where they perform specific actions.

Here’s another tip to help you keep track of all this data: create custom dashboards (via Dashboards> New Dashboard). You may already be using the default ‘My dashboard’ view, but you can also create additional dashboards and customize them to your heart’s content. There are twelve widgets available providing you with all sorts of dimensions and metrics. Why not try a dashboard with statistics about your visitors or real time data. This will give you all the metrics that are relevant to you at a glance.

Do you use other methods for generating statistics? Or would you like us to help you analyse your magazine? Let me know by sending an email to or call me on +31 (0)20 303 2822.

Want to start right away? Register for a 7-day free trial and discover the endless possibilities our tool has to offer.

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