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Common KPIs For Online Community Forums

5 minute read

September 22, 2020

The KPIs that you choose to measure in your community will (and should!) vary depending on the type of community that you have. You can't simply look to other communities and mimic their KPIs since KPIs should be selected carefully based on your community goals, your organizational goals and support your members interests.

Nevertheless, there are a number of common KPIs that many communities use as a basis to measure the value and impact of their communities. You can draw from the list provided in this blog to use as a starting point when setting the KPIs that are right for your community. To learn more about how to properly plan and set KPIs that are a right fit for your community, be sure to check out Community Basics Part 2: The ABCs of KPIs

According to the Community Industry Report, 2020, by CMX, the most common metric is monthly active users. Additionally, CMX reveals engagement metrics are also very common.

Indeed, statistics show that engagement is the biggest challenge organizations face, so it doesn't seem surprising that metrics that focus on engagement are extremely common. But only focusing on engagement should be avoided; engagement data doesn't necessarily explain or show the community's impact on the organization's strategic goals. In fact, a study by MIT Sloan Management Review found that only about 1,000 of the 3,200 executives surveyed believed that what they measured matched their organization's strategic objectives.

Community KPIs

While measuring engagement is certainly important and can help inform community strategy, failing to collect KPI data on things that are connected to your organizational goals or strategic objectives means that you won't be able to show the value of your community. For example, if your data shows that you have a positive number of net new members, and that more of your community articles are being read, well, that's fantastic! The problem is, this doesn't show the impact that it's actually having on any of your goals or departmental priorities. When you can't prove business value, you're less likely to get additional funding or secure enough internal interest to make your community a true success.

Common Community KPIs

Again, be sure that you use these common community KPIs as a baseline for your own planning process; in short, don't grab and go. You want to make sure that the KPIs that you settle with are actually right for your community, and this process requires careful assessment and planning.

Without further ado, here's our list of common community KPIs:

  • Page views: This is the number of pageviews that your community has. This will help you determine the most popular pages and what type of content generates the most attention .Knowing the most popular pages you have in your community can provide you with a good sense of what your members are looking for and what they're interested in.

  • Time on page: This is the amount of time that is spent on each of your community pages. Long amounts of time on a page could indicate that the content is being read, while short page time indicates that your members aren't interested in that content and the title could have been misleading.

  • Number of discussions: This is the number of discussion topics that have been created. This indicates how engaged your members are and which type of topics capture the most attention.

  • Number of comments: This is the number of replies to discussion topics, and it provides a good picture of how engaged users are in regards to specific topics.

  • Registrations: This is the number of new users registering to become members. This metric reflects the intrigue of your community on surface level, which indicates that members think your community has something to offer them. 

  • Number of sessions: This is the number of total sessions to the community, which identifies how much traffic is coming to your community. A higher number here could indicate that your community is easy to find (good SEO) and a desirable spot to be.

  • Number of returning sessions: This is the number of returning sessions to the community and helps you determine whether members are compelled to return after their first visit. A high number could indicate that your community is doing well and your members are getting value from your community.

  • Posts/ sessions: This is the total number of posts (comments and discussions) per session. This will show you how much content is created per session, and by whom. These types of stats can easily help you identify your top contributors and the most popular content they create.

  • Registrations/ new sessions: This is the number of people who sign up to become a member from new sessions. A high conversion rate indicates that your community is desirable and that your members feel there is something to gain by joining. 

  • Comments/ discussions: This is the numbers of comments to discussions and will help determine the community participation levels. This will allow you to track if members are starting discussions, and which discussion types are more likely to generate interest and engagement.

  • Sessions by device type: This is the number of sessions by device type, such as desktop, mobile and tablet. This will allow you to track the most popular devices, and further determine if the experience is seamless across all devices based on comparing this to page time.

  • Sessions by source: This is the number of sessions by source, which helps indicate where viewers are coming from. A large organic percent of sessions means that your SEO is effective.  

  • Pageviews/ category: This is the number of pageviews per category, and this can help you determine which category is most popular, and by whom.

  • Questions answered: This is how many questions are answered, and answered correctly. This is a metric to watch carefully if you have a support community as it provides a good indicator of how effective your community is at providing responses and deflecting tickets.

  • Response time: This is the amount of time it takes to get a response to a question. Shorter response times are not only good for your members, but good for your community since it means that members are engaged and ready to help.

  • Customers who view pages then contact support: This is the number of people who view your community support and then contact support, indicating that they did not find the answers they were looking for. It ultimately shows how effective your content is. 

  • Support tickets submitted: This is the number of support tickets that are being submitted. If your community is effective, you should see this number decrease over time. 

It's always good to be aware of common community KPIs when you yourself are looking to create the most impactful ones for your community. Be sure to consider these metrics when having discussions with your internal stakeholders, you can decide if some of these are right for you.

Be sure to check out our eBook, The Official Handbook of Community KPIs for Online Community Forums and Community Managers, to learn more.

Community KPIs2

Community

Sarah Robinson-Yu

Written by Sarah Robinson-Yu

Sarah is the Content Marketing Specialist at Vanilla Forums. Prior to Vanilla, Sarah worked in the public sector where she led and coordinated the strategic framework and operational policy development of business processes.

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