Monthly Archive for November, 2009

Starting to Take My Own Medicine . . .

As of today, my brand new Website has been up for 10 days, and it’s time to do what I recommend to all my clients, and start looking at my Google Analytics for some useful, actionable information.

This is a pretty salutary experience – my site is literally new and has almost no presence in search engines (Bing seems to be picking it up faster than Google) – so traffic numbers are pretty small.

I do see a couple of interesting things.  One is a great illustration of something that I tell my audiences a lot – there are always people who get to your site by mistake, and you need to decide whether you want to do anything about them.  I noticed a visitor who did a search for “Birkman study” and came to my site because I have a success story from some consulting that I did with Birkman International. This visitor left right away, which makes sense because clearly they were looking for Birkman’s expertise, not mine!

I’m also intrigued to see a few referrals to my site from Twitter, all of which record a 100% bounce rate (that is, visitors leaving immediately), and zero time on the site. Since someone retweeted the article that I’d referenced with a comment, I know that at least one person read the page, which meant that they spent time on it. Hopefully as the site traffic builds, I can shed more light on this.

Other than that, nothing earth-shattering, but there’s also not enough volume to make any findings statistically significant yet – there’s my next challenge!

The Reported Decline of Social Media – Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics?

There are 2 articles out today from highly credible sources that report declining usage of social media.

In the first, eMarketer Digital Intelligence declares “Data on Twitter Decline Stacks Up”. The piece quotes figures from comScore, Compete and Nielsen, all of which find that traffic to Twitter.com is lessening month by month.

However, eMarketer also admits that this trend may be misleading, since increasing numbers of visitors access Twitter through third-party applications such as Tweetdeck, and especially through mobile devices. These figures are not so far included in the agencies’ ratings. It does seem that projections for increasing use of Twitter overall are still on track.

Meanwhile, the BBC News Magazine has a page called “What Happened to Second Life?” The story says: “Today you’d be forgiven for asking if it’s still going”. It attributes the site’s difficulties in part to its complexity of use, and also to its inability to run on mobile devices because of memory requirements.

I think if the BBC had interviewed my good friend Dan Parks, who owns the Virtualis Convention Center within Second Life, they might have heard a different story. Dan’s creation is truly cutting-edge, and has become highly sought after for both corporate and association events.

So, as usual, any theory can be proved by selecting appropriate numbers – what’s really true?

The Trap of Linear Thinking

Today I provided a “Pick my Brain” session for Gavin Burt, from the UK site Running Injury Oracle (thank you, Skype!)

Gavin is a leading osteopath in the UK, and he has developed an online system to help runners diagnose and work with their injuries. Depending on their needs, he provides advice, checklists and videos for a monthly or annual subscription. So far, the response has been very positive, and he’s about to get major PR from the British running press.

So far, so good. But today we looked at his Google Analytics and discovered a problem that he hadn’t thought of. The site was designed for visitors to start at the home page and move logically through the process of self-diagnosis to get to their type of injury.

Of course, it doesn’t always work that way. Visitors who find the site through search engines are entering at inside pages which are focused on specific keywords. These visitors don’t have any context for what they see – the content immediately jumps into the diagnosis and subscription information, which is fine if they’ve been down the logical path, but not if it’s their first impression.

Luckily, this is a new site and still very much a work in progress, so we can figure out how to make the concept of each page clear to all visitors.

I told Gavin that he’s not alone – so many people make assumptions about how their site will be traveled, and don’t think about visitors getting to pages in all sorts of random ways.

But right now, many of Gavin’s visitors who enter at inside pages are leaving the site too quickly – so we need to plug that leak!

Getting the Wrong (Even Though Good!) Reputation?

At the same program earlier this week, I had a great question from Gloria Metrick, of GeoMetrick  Enterprises.

Gloria provides consulting services around Laboratory Information Management Systems.  She’s very well-known in her field, publishes many articles, and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences.

She asked me: “There are so many of my articles out there that people think I’m a writer, not a service provider! What can I do?”

The answer goes to one of my favourite Web mantras: “every page of your site should have a strategy”.

The articles pages on Gloria’s Website don’t currently point back to her services or the rest of her site. I recommended that every article should include links to pages describing related consulting services, and there should be a clear call to action at the top and bottom of each article page inviting visitors to learn more or contact her directly.

One of the biggest causes of leaks in potential revenue from your Website is not leveraging all your great content to maximum advantage.  And building in some links and calls to action is not a major redesign.  So plug that leak!

The Red-headed Stepchild?

I’ll get to Leaky Boat sites shortly, but I couldn’t resist posting this:

I was speaking at the weekend to an audience of business owners, and I posed them one of my favorite challenges:

How is it that so often our Websites become the ‘red-headed stepchild’ of our business? What else would you be willing to write a check for every month with often little or no idea of what it’s producing for you?”

Immediately a gentleman in the audience came back with:  “My teenagers!”

No response to that one . . .