The single most intriguing KPI running a blog is: “# RSS Subscribers” – and most of us, get our daily fix through FeedBurner or a similar service. BUT there is typically a disconnect between this essential blog KPI and the remaining KPI’s, which usually are tracked by ones preferred Analytics Tool such as IndexTools, WebTrends or Google Analytics.
A typical reporting on the # RSS Subscribers – KPI looks like this:
However; there is very little opportunity to do analysis on this KPI, given the environment where we get it from — and the limited data that it can be paired with — thus we end up looking at the reporting only. Therefore, it is important to move this KPI into ones standard web analytics tool and there is a quick and dirty Web Analytics HACK to do so :-)
Set up an Action (Goal) for you to track the # RSS subscribers. This is how it is presented under your IndexTools action settings:
Customize the noscript pixel part of your tracking code – so that the previous created custom action is recorded. The syntax is as follows in e.g. IndexTools:
a = the project that you want the collected data to be stored in
x = the action you want to set
In RSS 2.0 you would include the above URL as an image as part of your channel definition or in ATOM you would include the above URL as part of your atom:logo definition. If you like me, run a service like FeedBurner, there is no need to fiddle around with the above RSS or ATOM syntax, you simply specify a “Feed Image” for your FeedBurner Feed. This is where to paste the above URL in FeedBurner:
That is it! – you now have a “real-time” # RSS subscribers metric available in your Analytics tool.
NOW! the bigger question; Without even describing how to actually define and conclude on what a RSS subscriber is – I take for granted that the delivered subscriber number from FeedBurner is somehow a de-facto standard and trusted. That said; comparing the number of subscribers as delivered from FeedBurner with that collected through the IMG tag; we get the following result (for this blog):
By adding a linear trending on the dataset we will get and even better idea on whether we can use the IMG tag for any serious analysis.
So the conclusion is — and this is based on a 14 day short data sample, and I might change my mind — That I believe it is very reasonable to use this quick hack to start doing some RSS subscriber analysis! – As in e.g. where are my readers located?
Another great article on the Subject (Webtrends example included) is:
Web Analytics and Feeds #1: Feedburner (by: Eric Butler)