Michelle Bellettiere

Senior Manager, Digital Analytics

Michelle Bellettiere is the Senior Manager of Digital Analytics at Digital Services and works closely with stations to help them use available analytics tools to guide their digital strategy.  She has worked in analytics for various e-commerce and content sites.

Ways to Connect

Over the past few years we've used our station analytics data to learn a lot about our digital audience. Recently we've been looking at the characteristics and behavior of our users over a longer timeframe through a Google tool called BigQuery. We call this endeavor our Digital Conversion Study and have previously publish our insights about donors and our insights about repeat users.

In July, the Station Analytics team started an on-going investigation into the long-term site interaction trends that correlate with higher levels of site engagement and donation. Recently we shifted our focus from donors to repeat users of our sites with the goal of better understanding our loyal audience. Here's what we were able to learn about visitors who come to our sites more than once. 

In July, the Station Analytics team started an on-going investigation into the long-term site interaction trends that correlate with higher levels of site engagement and donation. This project uses Google’s BigQuery tool to load granular Google Analytics data starting from April of 2014 and building into the future. This tool allows us to analyze user data across longer periods of time than what is currently available in the Google Analytics interface and to perform more complicated custom calculations.

On the December Station Analytics Insights call we talked about our recent upgrade to the newest version of Google Analytics, Universal Analytics.  One of the key benefits of the transition was the ability to store additional data in Custom Dimensions.  Custom dimensions are used to collect and analyze data that isn’t automatically tracked by Google Analytics and they replace Custom Variables that were used in the previous version of the tracking code. This new information will allow us to answer lots of interesting questions - on the webinar we walked through the following examples:

One of the many helpful customizations in the Station Analytics System is the collection of public media specific meta data.  In addition to the default page data, additional information is tracked and stored in Custom Dimensions which can easily be added to standard or custom Google Analytics reports. This post will explain how to add the necessary information to your website so that it can easily be tracked by Google Analytics.

We’re pleased to announce that the Sources Dashboard is now available in the Station Analytics System (SAS)!

The dashboard will provide stations the opportunity to compare traffic trends in channels like direct, search, referrals, email and social, and view what those trends look like compared to the average station.

In January, we shared some initial data on improvements for Core Publisher stations that had moved to the responsive theme.  Those improvements included better tracking, improved search performance, and increased reading. Recently, we looked at data for the set of stations that moved to responsive in February 2015.  These stations saw similar improvements, including increases in story reading.   

Recently, the station analytics team was asked to help solve a debate in a local newsroom. This station was trying to decide if it would be  beneficial to supplement its strong local coverage with some national news from the NPR API. Since we have data about web performance for over 200 stations, we were glad to offer some insight. We started by looking at a group of 25 stations with strong digital newsrooms and monthly users between 50k and 300k. We found that, in these stations, local news drove higher engagement and encouraged users to come back.

The Core Publisher development team has been working hard to introduce a fully functioned responsive web theme. Over the past few months a handful of sites have moved to this new theme which provides a cleaner look and allows a consistent experience across devices. While we can't share sites confidential details, we can point to a few positive trends that we have seen post launch.

Lately lots of people have been emailing me links to articles about a phenomena called "dark social." This is interesting because "dark social" is the phrase coined to describe what was originally thought to be impact of the social sharing of links directly between individuals through email and chat.  Back in 2012, Alexis Madrigal wrote an article about a concerning trend that he was seeing on theatlantic.com.

On this month’s webinar we discussed an interesting new feature in Google Analytics. Google Analytics is currently in the process of rolling out new Benchmarking reports. While our team has not yet worked with these extensively, we find it an interesting options for stations who are interested in comparing their performance with sites outside of public media. 

On August Station Analytics insights webinar we talked about data that was collected using custom variables in Google Analytics.  If you missed that webinar you can view the video. For Core Publisher stations the digital services developers handled the set up, but if you are not using Core Publisher here is how you can start tracking additional data about your site.

Mobile traffic has once again hit a new peak for our station sites and we eagerly anticipate the time when more of our traffic will come from mobile and from tablet than from desktop devices. All this growth can lead us to want to know more about our mobile users - who are they, what are they doing, are we helping them find what they are looking for?

Limitations of Segments in Google Analytics

Last month we launched our project to understand the public media audience lifecycle by using better segmentation. This month we are looking into one of those segments to gain insight into whether our new users are returning to become loyal users. The key to growing our digital audience is attracting new users to our sites.

NPR member stations are successfully using a web first approach to digital news that is rapidly capturing new online audience. We have watched our social media traffic grow and are consistently improving our reach through new tools, platforms and partnerships, but to fulfill our long-term goals we'll need to encourage deeper engagement and direct relationships between stations and their new audience.  

In late 2013 Google Analytics added demographic information to its capabilities, allowing reports to be viewed and segmented by user characteristics like age and gender.  This information comes through the use of Google's ad network tagging and it determined using a combination of estimates based online behavioral data or Google+ information when it is available.  The results can be informative but are also limited.  

Ever have one of those days when the next big thing has just launched and everyone is waiting for the good news, but instead of spiking, Google Analytics seems to suddenly have flat-lined? Before you have a coronary there are few things to keep in mind.

There's nothing like hyperbole to get someone's attention.  Oh boy, did Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile get people's attention when he said "what you think you know about the web is wrong"- but let's all take a breath before we start throwing out our Google Analytics data.

The Station Analytics System adds a number of benefits over the standard Google Analytics tag. One of these is the creation of a number of custom variables design to track common elements of articles.  You can now summarize pageviews and visits by Author, Keywords, Source Organization or Program. In this video you can learn how to create custom reports that use these customized fields to track station specific data.  If you don't have time for the video you can download templates for some of the custom variables from the table below.

If you weren't able to join our live training webinar on February 6th, 2014 you can now watch the video or download the slides on nprstations.org.  The session included an overview of segmentation and examples of how to build visit and user segments for a few key site activities.

Here a few suggestions to get you started by building segments around or two most important activities: listening and reading.