[Updated December 31, 2021]
Part of being more data savvy is being able to put things in context. You have a number, is it good, bad? How does it compare to other organizations like yours (or slightly bigger ones)?
That’s why having shared data sets is so important and helps put your number in context. In addition, you want to see what is happening in the market you play in: your area, your audience type, your type of content, your subscription offer ---again having accessible data where you can compare is really useful. There are a few good examples of this which include:
Google News Initiative Consumer Insights A very useful way to measure engagement of your users and see a basic segmentation, using Google Analytics. Engagement is a key driver in willingness to subscribe and this tool categorizes users into segments of low, medium and high basically. Useful in that it is free and shows how to compare yourself to others and determine if your use base is at the right point for more pointed subscription offers.
Northwestern Medill Subscriber Engagement Index A new tool from Medill and the smart people at Mather Economics that tracks which aspects of a news outlet’s coverage induce subscribers to stick around. Forty-four news outlets are now participating, with a total of 100 expected by early next year
Campaign Monitor They publish benchmark data from multiple sources on email effectiveness, but they also have a tool that lets you compare your outgoing email data to their norms, so your email KPI’s could be matched up and compared to others including by different industries/topic areas. So there is a general “Publishers" category but also a “Restaurant & Food" if you had a food newsletter that needed comparison on the topic.
Local News Topics and Ease of Access US research that shows how audiences value different local news topics and if important every day vs nice to have. Data from 2018.
Local News Consumption By Region allows you to search by a region and see the local news consumption specifics in that region
MailerLite Email Stats Benchmarks is a summary of stats (open rate, CTR rate, bounce rate) to help you see what email campaigns do on average (in North America). They looked at data from 788K campaigns sent in 2021 by 35K accounts. For example, they saw average open rates across all industries (27.91% compared to 25.35% in 2020), but a slightly lower average click rate, which was 3.82% in 2020. You can compare these numbers by content types. One insight: data shows that "transit / transport" content was very popular and could be resurgent as Covid wanes and commuting resumes; take note publishers considering newsletters.
Google RealTime Content Insights Trending articles and videos (YouTube) to see what types of content are getting people’s attention, can be localized
(Meta) CrowdTangle A public insights tool to evaluate underperforming and over-performing posts on Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and last 7 days of Twitter, compare coverage with that of other local publications
FIPP Global Digital Subscription Snapshot Reports A global study on subscription rates done quarterly ($39 month, $400 a year)
American Press Institute's "What Makes People Subscribe" Report which focuses on the pre-subscription path, the habits they show and the journey they take to paying for content, with lots of figures and stats from a national study conducted in 2018.
[ Note: If you know of other good data sources that are practical and free, please let us know as we would like to hear about them (email us). ]