The Read Ratio Is the Key to Convert Viewers to Fans

I analyzed seven factors that affected my Medium stats and published my findings in a series of blog posts. I thought yesterday’s post would be the last one in this series. I planned to wait for another 100 posts to collect new data and make a similar analysis.

I was wrong. My study of the stats was incomplete. I only analyzed the views and fans. I ignored the reads. I tried to rationalize that decision while writing yesterday’s post. I couldn’t.

There was no rational reason to ignore the reads. On the contrary, the reads were slightly more correlated to the fans than the views. The correlation between the views and fans is 91.9% and the correlation between the reads and fans is 92.4%.

Fig. 1. Fans vs. Views

You can see this difference, if you look carefully at the scatter graphs in Fig. 1 and 2. The points in Fig. 2 are slightly “tighter” than the points in Fig. 1. That means we better pay attention to the read stats as well.

Fig. 2. Fans vs. Reads

The reads act like a bridge between the views and fans.

Analyzing the Read Stats

This time, I don’t want to randomly dive into the analysis like I did with the views and fans. I want to make a structured analysis based on the results from the previous study.

I’ll come up with a set of hypotheses to test with the data. While doing these tests, I might come across hypotheses that I haven’t thought about. I’ll report them too.

Here’s an overview of the factors that I’ll analyze.

Publication the Post Is Published In

This is an interesting factor. My posts get 10 times more views when they are published in the Startup publication. However, that 10X factor doesn’t translate to fans. My posts get four times more fans in the Startup publication.

The readers of the Startup publication have higher expectations from a post. I will analyze those expectations. I will work on increasing the reads to views and fans to views ratios of my posts in the Startup publication.

The Title of the Post

The title of the post plays a great role in pulling in readers. My initial studies show that it also plays a role in the read ratio.

If the title charges the reader emotionally, the read ratio seems to be higher. However, this emotional charge is a double edged sword.

The reader could hate your argument and read your post to see how wrong you are. Or they could love your argument and read it to maximize their positive experience. You can see this in the number of fans.

Unfortunately, there are no reaction buttons like Facebook on Medium. An angry face or a heart say much more than the number of claps. That’s a downside of Medium, but that’s the subject of a different post.

Post Length

I read claims about a strong correlation between post length and read ratio. Based on my conclusions from the fans to views ratio, I don’t think that would be the case. I don’t have any evidence at this moment. This will be one of the hypotheses that I’ll test with the data.

Readability of a Post

I believe this will be one of the top two factors that affect the read ratio. The other one is the emotional charge of the post.

My initial observations point out that increasing the readability of web copy is harder than I thought. More on that in the future posts.

Day of the Week and Tags of the Posts

Honestly, I have no idea whether the day of the week or tags play a role in the reads to views ratio. That’s a good thing. Starting an analysis with an open mind is always better than starting with a set of beliefs.

The Right Mindset to Approach Research

Even though I have some beliefs about the impact of some of these factors, I don’t do this analysis to prove myself right.

I’d rather be wrong, learn something, and improve my stats than prove myself right.

The Pitfall of Optimizing Your Stats

There’s a pitfall when analyzing and optimizing your Medium stats. You can end up overoptimizing a stat or two.

These stats are important and they add value to a content marketing business. They need to be seen in that context.

It is possible to overoptimize a parameter at the cost of others. For example, I can write an irritating piece and increase the read ratio. However, that high read ratio won’t translate to fans, followers, and email newsletter subscribers.

Conclusion

The read ratio turned out to be more important than I initially thought. That means I’m going to analyze the impact of different factors on the read ratio.

I believe the emotional charge and the readability of a post would have the highest impact on the read ratio. I’m especially curious about how I can improve the readability.

I believe there are a lot of lessons to be learned in the readability of web copy. Those lessons have probably a high impact on the bottom line of a content marketing business. For that reason, I’m going to analyze the readability next. I’ll publish my lessons here.

Your Turn

  • What do you think about the importance of the read ratio of a post?
  • What are the factors that impact the read ratio? Did I miss a factor here?
  • Do you have any suggestions for this analysis?
  • Is there any factor that you want me to look at when analyzing the read ratio stats?
Burak Bilgin
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.