Friday Observations: What Can Spend Matters Readership and Download Patterns Tell Us?

Spend Matters readers are an increasingly diverse group of individuals. Even though practitioners (especially those within large companies) comprise an increasing majority of overall readership, there's still a decent advisory (consultant, BPO) and vendor contingency that check in as well. Incidentally, in the early years, advisers and vendors formed the bulk of the readership, although this has flipped. Moreover, one trend that's interesting is an increasing (still a small, mind you, of the overall whole) percentage of private equity firms hitting the site and downloading material.

I'm sure there's valuable insight in all of this. But since I was out at a pub the night before I wrote this post with some colleagues, I won't pretend to draw serious conclusions from the patterns. Moreover, even on a good day, I don't have the time to do a full analysis of our stats. Still, anecdotally, I thought I'd share some seat-of-the-pants findings that I think are a bit useful even if not that important overall about Spend Matters readership (for the latest on the sites in general, you can download our latest summary PDF, no registration required, by clicking here, but I won't bore you with the details in this post).

So what do readership and download patterns tell us? Here are five observations I've made:

  1. Any post relating to contingent labor, VMS, or services procurement typically receives more hits later in the morning (US time) relative to posts on direct materials, manufacturing, etc. (adjusting for time zones and everything else). This suggests that the typical audience for these posts tends to sleep in. I'm not accusing them of being slackers any more than I am, but perhaps the HR legacy plays a role in how and when this group digests information. As to the rest of us, who hit our snooze buttons at 5:00 AM versus 7:30, at least we can pinpoint those types in procurement who typically don't put in the same hours we do. I hope you find this particular observation as humorous as I do...
  2. One thing I love about Spend Matters is the fact we still allow comments without approval. Sure, we blow up the occasional comment or two if it defames someone other than yours truly, but in general we allow comments to stay (one of the exceptions is those companies that spam us with comments and links without having anything of material value to say). Still, what's worth noting in this regard is the limited efforts people (usually vendors) put in to mask IP addresses when attempting to comment anonymously, usually on a post mentioning the competition. Come on people! We all see through it -- as does our IP collection tool. In other words, if you see a negative comment about a vendor (or an alternative view of something we've said in a post about a vendor, either pro or con) it's quite often a competitor attempting to anonymously smear things or defend themselves.
  3. The number of comments, in general, relative to overall visits, page-views, etc. is abysmally low. If Spend Matters were a political blog (or even an HR-focused business blog), things would be much different. The bottom line appears to be that most procurement and supply chain types would rather lurk than participate. IP logs show <5% of practitioner organizations ever -- and I mean ever -- comment on the site. This goes for repeat visitors who frequent the site on a daily or weekly basis as well. Fascinating -- and we have some thoughts about how to change this.
  4. What do readers like the most, judging from traffic? Honestly, I haven't a clue anymore. Technology posts, especially those around SAP and Oracle, have always attracted a good following. Yet recently, the traffic each post receives has been all over the map and hard to predict. On MetalMiner, we know commodity and related price forecast and outlook commentary drives a loyal and large following. We probably need to do a more sober analysis of this at some point for Spend Matters, but in over six years of leading the authorship of the site, I've not once stopped to analyze what drives traffic. I've written -- and directed those now on the team -- to write about what interests them.
  5. Research downloads are really starting to develop critical mass as our Compass and related libraries build. On a daily basis (during the week), we are now seeing anywhere from 30-60 paper downloads, sometimes more. I'm particularly surprised by the global nature of who downloads as well, and the unexpected following in Australia (and New Zealand). At least I know that I won't be drinking alone in the pub on my first trip to that part of the world.

- Jason Busch

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