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Chapter
9

Track your Substack metrics

When you start a Substack, you get both an email list and a website. That means you have twice as many ways to reach people, but also twice the numbers to look at. Substack provides data analytics tools to help you understand where your traffic (and viewers) are coming from, how many people are reading your newsletter, and the user-specific activity of each subscriber. In this step, you’ll learn how to monitor your metrics using Substack’s built-in data analytics tools.

To see how many people have viewed your Substack newsletter, click on the “Stats” button in the upper right hand corner of the page. The first image on the page is a graph displaying your website visitors—here are mine, from November 2022 to February 2023:

Below the graph is a chart which tracks the sources of your web traffic, and perhaps most importantly, breaks down whether those visitors signed up for your newsletter, and if so, whether they became a free or paid subscriber. Again, here are mine — yours will inevitably look different.

This is a valuable feature. Substack’s data analytics are a bit more sparse than other platforms, such as Medium. But Substack’s data analytics includes conversion rates, which from a content creator’s perspective, is of the utmost importance. If you want to see the activity of an individual subscriber (free or paid), click on the “Subscribers” button in the upper right hand corner of the page.

If you scroll down the page, you’ll see a list of your email subscribers. If you click on a specific email, you can see the detailed activity of each subscriber.

Substack’s subscriber-specific analytics provide enormous insight into the patterns of your subscribers. You can use this data to:

  • Determine what posts lead to a higher subscriber sign-up rate.

  • See whether a specific user opened your latest email.

  • Establish the proper ratio of free to paid content in order to optimize paying subscribers.

You can also view traditional stats associated with each email you send. These metrics include:

  • Total views

  • Email recipients (how many people received your email).

  • Open rate (what percentage of those recipients opened your email).

  • How many people subscribed to your newsletter after reading a post

  • Click rate (Percentage of people who read an email and clicked on any link).

  • Top links among the links that were clicked (subset of click rate)

After publishing your first newsletter, check several metrics for your newsletter: The sources of your web traffic, the total views, and the top links that were clicked in your newsletter. Make a plan to check in on these stats weekly. Maybe you put a hold on your calendar for every Friday afternoon. Figure out what will work for you and make it recurring, so you continue to check in and see what’s working and what’s not.

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