August 24, 2006

How Do Your Customers Use Your Website?

When analyzing the traffic that visits this website, I am continually amazed by how users consume the information on this website. Here are a few factoids:
  • 42% of visitors arrive at the website with no referring URL. Many have AOL as their ISP.
  • 20% arrive via a query from a search engine. Almost all search traffic comes from Google.
  • 18% arrive via links to my website on other blogs.
  • 29% arrive via RSS subscriptions or Feedblitz subscriptions.
Here is where visitors land, when they get to the site:
  • 39% arrive at my homepage.
  • 61% land on a specific permalink for one of my posts.
Let's think about these numbers in the context of your business.

Assume twenty percent of your traffic arrives via a search engine. You have essentially given control of one-fifth of your business to Google, Yahoo! and MSN. How do you feel about that? I'm pretty certain Google, Yahoo! and MSN feel good about it. How do you regain control of your business if that percentage significantly increases, or if the search engines decide to use an algorithm that sends less traffic to your site? Online retailers need to think hard about how much control they have ceeded to search engines. On the surface, the traffic that comes from search engines seems like it is all incremental business. I highly doubt that it is.

Three in ten visitors come via an RSS or Feedblitz subscription. These visitors seldom, if ever, get to my homepage. They go to a permalink, or they simply read a post via e-mail, without ever visiting my site. Are there ways that your online business uses technology, so that your customers are interacting with your business, without ever visiting your website?

Nearly one in five visitors come from a link on another blog. These are similar to the affiliate programs that drive business for many online companies. Are there other websites that have a similar demographic/psychographic with your website, websites where co-branding opportunities exist?

I cannot track where four in ten visitors come from. This creates problems for me, since I cannot identify why forty percent of my traffic chose to visit me. How do you deal with an inability to identify where your online visitors are coming from?

My visitor statistics illustrate how business has changed over the past decade. Ten years ago, catalogers drove their business via catalog titles, catalog frequency, and customer acquisition via purchased lists, exchanged lists and compiled lists. Five years ago, multichannel marketing began its ascention as customer migrated from the telephone/catalog channel to the online/e-mail channel. Today, technologies like RSS and Feedblitz transform the visitor experience, while search engines have inserted themselves into our business models, with and without our permission.

Where do you think all of this is heading?

1 comment:

  1. Great observations, Kevin!

    Taken further, I've mentioned to clients and readers that they need to think of the search engine results pages (SERPs) as ersatz home pages. That means not only ensuring that your links rank high for key search words, but that the organic results descriptions are accurate and provocative enough to maximize clicks to your site, as opposed to a competing site above or below yours in the listings.

    We should not hand over to a search engine the responsibility of accurately describing the pages that they include in their SERPs.

    Thanks, Kevin, for continuing to make business metrics come to life with your blog.

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