AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

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Susan Kistler on Tracking aea365 Growth

I’m Susan Kistler, the American Evaluation Association’s Executive Director, and I post each Saturday to aea365. On January 1, 2010, we started aea365 with three subscribers – myself, John LaVelle our intrepid intern responsible for overseeing aea365 startup, and a relative who shall remain unnamed but wanted to support our efforts.

In the first few months, John worked diligently on two fronts. First, he encouraged authors to contribute to aea365, knowing that the readership was low and the forum untested. I strongly encourage you to check out the aea365 archive to read some of the earliest contributions (as well as over 700 others). Second, he worked with a number of people to reach out to AEA members and nonmembers alike to encourage people to subscribe – to receive a tip-a-day right in their email boxes. And subscribe you did. Approximately a year ago, in January of 2011, I reported that by December of 2010, 1,560 people viewed aea365 via email or RSS each day. The rise in subscriptions has continued steadily in our second year.


Lesson Learned: We use Feedburner to track subscribership. This May 2010 post will tell you more about it if you haven’t heard of Feedburner. The chart above shows our subscribership growth from aea365’s start in January of 2010 through to the end of 2011 when we recorded 2821 aea365 subscribers on an average day.

Hot Tip: Share you [blog] data. We’re sharing here so that association colleagues may have a case example of a blog’s growth trajectory, so that our potential authors will gain an understanding of the likely size of the readership, so that we are transparent regarding aea365’s readership, and finally as an entrée to saying ‘thank you.’ Thank you to every single subscriber, for taking the time to read and learn and share (lots of posts are passed along!). And a double thank you to all of our writers, over 500 to date, who have contributed their knowledge and expertise to aea365.

Get Involved: If you are an email-based subscriber, who joined on or before December 31 of 2011, you’ll be receiving a very short survey (I promise – 5 minutes max!), asking you about how often you read aea365 and how, if at all, you have used aea365 content. For one example, stay tuned for Monday’s post from Sheila Robinson Kohn and Kankana Mukhopadhyay talking about how they have used aea365 as a teaching tool.

And, if you have an example that you would like to share with the world, consider posting it in the comments or sending me a note at regarding possibly submitting it as an aea365 contribution.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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I’m Susan Kistler, the American Evaluation Association’s Executive Director, and I contribute each Saturday’s aea365 post. The start of the year seemed like a good time to look reflectively at 2010 monitoring data for aea365.

Lesson Learned – Compile information from multiple sources: Back in May, I wrote about monitoring blog use using Feedburner and Google Analytics. What we realized is that we needed to compile the resulting data from both sources into a single place in order to examine the available information and report via a single chart. The chart below shows the subscribers (from Feedburner) and pageviews (from Google Analtyics).

Lessons Learned – Consider an average day: We wanted to gain an understanding of how people received aea365 content and how that changed over time. There were lots of day-to-day fluctuations due to the day of the week and promotional pushes, so we took a daily average for each month in order to understand the overall trend in a concrete way.

Looking across both sources of data illuminated the picture. At the close of January 2010, on an average day 148 people received aea365 by email or RSS, there were 61 visits to the aea365 homepage, and 101 internal pageviews. By the end of December 2010, on an average day 1,560 people received aea365 via email or RSS, there were 47 visits to the aea365 homepage, and 238 internal pageviews.

Our outreach efforts for aea365 direct readers (a) back to specific posts and not to the site’s homepage, and (b) to subscribe. The data and chart reflect this via the overall growth in subscribers and the more than doubling of the internal page views, yet with the unique homepage views remaining low and varying up and down from month to month.

Hot Tip – Cleaning up a chart: Yesterday, I listened in on the trial-run of Steve Fleming’s AEA Coffee Break Webinar (CBW) on Evaluating Data Visualizations. Building on his November 30 aea365 post, and using a concrete example, Steve walked through how to apply key design concepts from Edward Tufte and Stephen Few to make clear graphics that emphasize the data story. Using Steve’s design guidance and kuler to identify particular colors, I went from the default design below to the one you see above.

Steve will be giving the Data Visualization webinar on Thursday, January 20, from 2:00 – 2:20 Eastern. If you are an AEA member, it’s free to attend (register here). If you are not a member, you can join AEA or purchase a one-year CBW pass to the 30+ coffee break webinars for $80 ($30 for full-time students). The pass includes a one-year AEA membership and free access to the recorded CBWs from 2010.

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