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David Jackson
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I'm founder and Chairman of Seeking Alpha. I started Seeking Alpha after working for five years as a technology research analyst for Morgan Stanley in New York. Seeking Alpha is now the dominant crowdsourced equity research platform, with thousands of contributors and millions of monthly... More
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  • Upgrading Our Daily Email

    When Seeking Alpha was in its early days, we published about 25 to 30 articles per day. So it made sense to offer our readers a "Daily Dispatch" email, containing links to all the articles arranged by theme and sector.

    But despite our high article rejection rate, we now publish 200 to 250 articles per day excluding conference call transcripts. As a result, the Daily Dispatch email became too long, and the click through rate of any but the top articles was low. This matters, because there are about 150,000 subscribers to that email alone.

    So we've redesigned the Daily Dispatch email. It now features Wall Street Breakfast, our daily news summary, the two most popular articles from the last day, and the top two Editors' Picks.

    We've ensured that there is backward compatibility for those who liked the longer list. First, there's a link at the bottom of the email to "View all of today's articles by sector at Stocks & Sectors", which covers most of the content of the old email. Second, you can get the entire content of the old emails by subscribing to the collection of emails on the email alerts dashboard. The old email was Stocks & Sectors + Macro View + Investing Ideas + ETF Daily, all of which are available separately. The downside is that you now have to subscribe to 4 emails to get the same as the massive old Daily Dispatch; the upside is that they are easier to navigate and less cumbersome.

    We've learned that whenever we make changes, some of our readers always prefer the way things used to be, and they are often the most vocal. So we listen carefully to feedback, but also track the impact of changes in the usage stats, in this case the open rate and click through rate of the emails. We hope our readers will like the changes.

    As the number of articles we publish continues to rise, personalization becomes more important. We're seeing steep increases in the number of our readers setting up portfolios and following authors they like. On the email side, that's reflected in a rise in subscriptions to the daily email alert featuring articles on the stocks in your portfolio and articles by the authors you follow. You can set up that email by clicking on "Settings" in the bottom toolbar after logging in.

    Tags: emails
    Jul 02 10:38 AM | Link | 7 Comments
  • How to Measure a Website's Success

    Usability expert Jakob Nielsen (pictured above) has a must-read article for anyone running a web site or investing in online businesses. He writes:

    ...ever-more users are arriving deep within websites rather than entering them through the homepage...

    For many sites, the deep-dip increase has an unfortunate consequence: much bigger bounce rates.

    The bounce rate is defined as the percentage of visitors who turn around at the entry page and immediately leave the site. Such visitors "bounce" out and never see additional pages.

    Given growing bounce rates, we must stop using "unique visitors" as a metric for site success. Site tourists who leave a site immediately ratchet up the unique visitor count, but don't contribute long-term value.

    On the contrary, bouncers should be considered a negative statistic: the site failed to engage them enough to entice even a second pageview.

    To measure site success, you should count only loyal users who return repeatedly...

    Chasing higher unique-visitor counts will undermine your long-term positioning because you'll design gimmicks rather than build features that bring people back and turn them into devotees and customers.

    At Seeking Alpha, we focus on two metrics of user engagement: average time on site and page views per visit. Average time on site this month is over 14 minutes per visit; but that number includes those who Jakob Nielsen calls "site tourists".

    Those who came directly to Seeking Alpha this month spent an average of 22 minutes per visit.

    The chart below shows the second broad metric for user engagement -- page views per visit.

    Jun 25 4:43 AM | Link | 8 Comments
  • How to Stop Spam

    You know spam when you see it: it's lousy for the reader. I'm sure that Seeking Alpha isn't the only website attacked by spammers. In our case, we see two types of spammers: people trying aggressively to promote their financial businesses (at least they're relevant to our readers), and those publishing blogs and other content that have no relevance whatsoever to our readers.

    In our efforts to combat spam, we thought about the fundamental principles of how to win the war against spammers. We came up with these principles:

    1. It must be easy for us to find spam content.
    2. It must be easy for us to delete spam content.
    3. It must be significantly less effort for us to find and delete spam than for the spammer to post the spam to our website.
    4. Our anti-spam tools must not create a high barrier for our readers to contribute genuine content to Seeking Alpha.

    We rely on our readers to help us identify spam -- we have "report abuse" links below every comment, for example. And we've built dashboards that allow our editors to delete a spammer's identity and content in one click, while barring that email address from future use. And only StockTalks written by users that have uploaded a picture can appear on our home page.

    What is your experience with spam, and what recommendations do you have for how to deal with it?

    Tags: spam
    Jun 24 4:32 AM | Link | 5 Comments
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