If you're not using Read Rate in your story statistics, you should. According to Marketing Land, the average adult spends just over 300 minutes a day with digital content. How many of those minutes are with your content? If your results read in the seconds per visit and not the minutes you may want to start examining your Read Rate.


What's Read Rate? It's this simple:

There are many tools to track the Average Read Time or the number of seconds a reader spends with any story. I recommend those that use cursory tracking methods which eliminate any time spent on other tabs, on other tasks, or with people generally out to lunch.  OneSpot and Contently* both offer great analytics tools that offer this service and much more.

*full disclosure this author has worked for both companies

When it comes to estimating read time, OneSpot can calculate that for you as well. However, a simple way to do this manually is to roughly assume the average adult reads at 275 wpm and add 12 seconds for each image. Digiday uses this logic and explains it here.  If you're lazy or don't trust your math there are simple calculators like Script Timer, Read-O-Meter, and WordPress has even developed a plug-in to help take all the work out.


Why Read Rate? It's an engagement metric that allows you to fly by the "what's working?" and dive more quickly into "why is this working?" and "what should I do next?" In examining the stories that people choose to spend their time with, relative to the length of the read, you can begin to answer questions like:

  • Which of my stories are dogs? Is it the content or does my content not pay off on my headline?
  • What length of story is ideal for my reader? Counter to our intuition often times the longer the story the better the Read Rate.
  • What themes are sticky and which are not? What should I do more of? What should I consider? What should I retire?


What to look for?  

Any story with a Read Rate of over 0.5 is outstanding. This means your average reader is consuming at least half of your content. Scroll rates can suggest this but often fall short of telling us whether or not we had the attention of our audience.

Stories with a Read Rate of under 0.2 should be rethought or retired. Before you do, look into your traffic sources. If it's popular amongst your employees their click, copy link, send/post behavior can reek havoc on your numbers. Good behavior, bad for your statistics.  If your story is being promoted, make sure those promoted posts are landing in front of the right eyeballs.  It could be time to call your media partner and inquire further about their audience is finding your content. Or it could be that your baby is in fact, ugly.

Anything with a Read Rate of over 0.75 should be examined because you've just hit a home run! This number is rare, rare, rare and a very positive indicator. Check your math before bragging to your boss.

Liked This Read? If you got something out of this story, we recommend you check out the following reads on content planning & strategy:

  1. The Me Meter- How Open Minded Is Your Content, No Really?
  2. The Road Not Bacon - How High Is Your Social Coefficient?
  3. The Lost Customer - Why Your Sales Funnel Is Clogged.