How Vegconomist stays on top of their business KPIs with Rows
Being vegan is no longer a subculture or a fad; it is big business. And as the demand for vegan products and services continues to grow, so do the business opportunities. For Florian Schmitt and his co-founder Peter that opportunity came in 2018 when they started Vegconomist, a B2B vegan business magazine for professionals in the food and beverage industry.
We recently sat down with Florian - virtually, while he’s on a multi-month trip traveling through Spain - to learn more about his story and how Rows fits into the picture.
With more than 200,000 unique visitors per month across multiple geographies, Vegconomist is one of the leading digital vegan business publishers. Behind all those eyeballs is a team of more than 15 Vegconomists, including a team of writers from the US to France making sure the content is fresh, relevant and (meat) free.
They feed the business with two revenue streams:
1) Partnerships with companies in the food and beverage industry to serve relevant ads to their audience - e.g. food production companies or vegan ingredient companies.
2) Vegconomist+, a subscription service for unlimited access to the 50 new articles per week and 7.500+ article archive.
Handling all that traffic comes with multiple challenges. And that’s where Rows comes in.
As Florian recounts how he first got started with Rows, he can’t help but crack a smile. It all started with a glitch, when for a couple of weeks their number of newsletter subscribers did not grow. It stalled. After they noticed it - by accident - they discovered that the connection between the sign-up flow and the newsletter service was down. For a publication that adds hundreds of new newsletter subscribers every month, this was a big problem.
Rows was the most intuitive, flexible way to build a dashboard to monitor their most important business KPIs: the number daily unique visitors to their websites, the number of newsletter subscribers, Linkedin follower counts and number of articles published.
The integration between Rows and Google Analytics was a big unlock. Importing data from their four GA properties - for the Vegconomist .com, .de, .fr and .es websites - and the versatility of a spreadsheet were just what he needed to build a unified health check dashboard.
Once Florian saw the potential to automate more of their reports, the ideas kept coming. Take their social media reports. Monitoring the engagement of their LinkedIn posts was another nagging problem that called for a (spreadsheet) solution. In particular, comparing the performance of their posts by language meant a lot of manual work. Downloading the posts, tagging them by language, summarizing the results. And redoing it again every week. There had to be a better way. So Florian got to work:
First, he installed the LinkedIn post report template to create the base report with a list of all their posts enriched with the number of impressions, clicks, shares, likes, comments and engagement ratio.
Second, he tapped into the Google Translate integration to automatically detect the language of the posts.
Third, he summarized the results by language using a few SUMIFs and COUNTIFs.
Finally, he automates it all with a daily Schedule that imports the most recent posts and updates the report.
To top it off, the report is now embedded in the writer’s publishing tool (in Wordpress). Before publishing a new post, his writer’s team can quickly check what has worked best recently, and use that knowledge to create content that resonates with their audience.
Since then, the Vegconomist team has relied on Rows as their go-to spreadsheet to use and share data. Some days that means ad-hoc analysis on the bounce rate of their website. Other means creating an automation to log their Google PageSpeed results every 3 hours, to serve as an early-warning signal for when their site is loading too slowly after installing a new Wordpress plugin, or shipping a major change to the website.
But no matter what the day entails, the team knows that their business KPIs are always just a few clicks away in Rows.
A zen spreadsheet 🧘
For Florian, working with spreadsheets is the most natural way to get things done. There is an almost zen-like quality to them. With Rows, that means the comfort of knowing their most important KPIs are accessible at a glance, are understood by the team, and are easy to decode.
To wrap up our conversation, Florian tells us one final story. A couple of weeks ago their newsletter subscribers stalled again. But this time, only for a couple of days. Thanks to the internal dashboard, they caught the problem early and solved it fast. And that, in his words, tells us everything we need to know about “spreadsheet peace of mind”.