Scott Hanselman put out an interesting post today about measuring blog traffic. This has been a topic that has interested me for awhile. FeedBurner provides a lot of great information that I couldn't have gotten otherwise, but there are some critical pieces of information missing (or perhaps I just haven't completely figured out how to read the stats yet).
It is a well known fact in retail that it costs more to get new customers than keeping the ones you have. However, it is also known that no matter what you do, you will lose customers. People move, die, find something else, etc. A key indicator about the health of the business is the rate at which you are losing customers. A dramatic change in that can be a major indication that something is going either right or wrong in your business.
I am not in retail, but it seems the same holds true for blogs as well. Although I may not pay for marketing, it does take work to try to attract subscribers. I read blogs about blogging, I try to write interesting articles, I try to participate in community forums, etc. I haven't been hugely successful with my blog, and likely never will be, but it does take a lot of effort to try to increase my subscriber count anyway. It would be great if FeedBurner was able to provide me with information about how many new subscribers I have vs how many subscribers I lose.
So, here is my proposal for what kind of information I would like to see for my subscriber stats:
- A subscriber is a person who has subscribed to a blog feed and continues to get updates. The updates could be every 5 minutes or every other week.
- A new subscriber is (obviously) one that has never requested the feed before.
- A lost subscriber is one that has not requested an update in over 2 weeks (or some configurable amount).
- A regained subscriber is one that requests your feed after not having received updates in over 2 weeks (or some configurable amount).
- Each of these stats should be displayed prominently with drill-downs to help see what is going on.
Of course, I suspect I'm being a bit naive in what kind of information can be provided. Scott mentions a couple things that would prevent FeedBurner from being able to record this information, such as NewsGator retrieving the feed once and then delivering it to all subscribers (I don't think FeedBurner can know who the subscribers are in this situation).