Faking Orgasms

The woman in Room #837 is faking an orgasm.

I know this because I’m five feet outside her door in this “luxury” Sydney hotel listening to her.  (The only thing “luxury” about this place is the amount they charge to access the internet.)

If my phone had any sort of signal, I’d find the YouTube link to the famous scene from When Harry Met Sally and play it as loudly as possible so she’d know how it was done.

But alas, I don’t have any signal.

Nor do I have any energy.

It’s at least 110 degrees in here and I’m literally melting.   (Think Wicked Witch scene at the end of Wizard of Oz but 100 times more dramatic.)

I pound on the door four more times and beg:  “Please.  Please. Open. This. Door.”  Whimper.  “Please…”

I think about offering to participate in a threesome if they’d just let me out of here but I’m not quite that desperate.   I’m still deciding if death would be better than joining the awful sex they are having.  Yes, I know.  Sex is like Chinese food.  Even if it’s bad, you still want it again anyway.  But this sounds like food-poisoning-bad sex and I’ve already lost at least six pounds from this stifling heat.

More pounding.  I feel – and look — like Fred Flintstone yelling at Wilma.

It’s 3:30 in the morning and I don’t particularly care who I wake up.  I would pull the Fire Alarm if there was one.   Hell, I’d start a fire if I could.  Anything to get me out of this flipping place.

It’s hot.  It’s dusty.  It smells like mold.   There are cigarettes strewn all over.  I’m convinced I’d see human bones of the people who’ve gotten stuck in here before me if I actually looked.  But I have neither the time nor the energy to dig for dead bodies, so I start kicking at the door with my feet instead of pounding it with my fists.

Nothing.

The only sounds of life are the grunts of the Neanderthal and the woman who thinks his name is God. Or Joe.  She can’t seem to decide.

I glance down at the stairs and realize what an idiot I was to take the stairs.   WHO TAKES THE STAIRS?

If I hadn’t taken the stairs, I wouldn’t be stuck.

Of course, when I hurriedly left my room and took the stairs I didn’t know that there was a difference between FIRE STAIRS and regular stairs and that ALL OF THE FIRE STAIRS WOULD BE LOCKED.

Every single level – every single exit – even the street level — locked tightly shut – just like something out of Sartre.

I didn’t know I’d be locked in the stairwell and I certainly didn’t realize I’d be stuck in Hell listening to God.  Or Joe.  Or whatever his damn name is.

I think about taking off my clothes.  By the time anyone finds me, I’ll be all bones anyway…

If I was MacGyver I could do something with my shirt and the battery of my cellphone.  Hmmm…  If only I was MacGyver or my friend, James, who is even handier than MacGyver.

I glance down at my signal-less phone to check the time.  (When I was more lucid, I calculated how long the sex would last – I even figured out a scenario if Caveboy had taken Viagra, one if he’d read the 15 minute orgasm chapter in Four Hour Body, and one if he’d done both.)

I’ve been trapped in here FOREVER.

FOREVER meaning exactly twenty one minutes.

People say time flies.  And it does.  Except when it doesn’t.  When you’re a kid waiting for Santa or when you’re an adult trying to do something – anything — that needs to be done quickly — like escaping from a stairwell or getting in and out of a lead form or checkout as fast as possible.  Then time is slower than death.

I did a seminar for Target Marketing Magazine last week and one of the things I got the most comments about afterwards is why I think user session is so important.  Over a dozen people wrote and said “nobody else seems to think it’s important like you do – who is wrong?  You or them?”   (Them.  Obviously.)

The time spent on your site has a huge influence on your success.

Why?

Because for every site there is a MAGIC amount.

There’s a time where you’re ok to be there – and then there’s that moment where everything immediately becomes not ok – and you feel like you’re trapped.

When I first walked out the fire stairwell door, everything was great.  I bounced from my floor (#6) down to the floor where the gym was (#2.)   I was looking forward to my workout (well, as much as one can look forward to a workout) and getting a jump on my morning.

Then I tried to open the door and it was locked.  I was mildly irritated but I thought “no worries, I’ll just go to floor #1 and go up the ballroom stairs instead.”

Down to #1.  Also locked.  “It’s ok, they probably lock the street level doors so no vagrants come in.” (Bad logic since the street would be a better place than this God-er-Joe-forsaken hotel.)

Up to #3. “WTF? This is really irritating.”

Up to #4. “This is beyond irritating.”

Up to #5.  “I’m going to sue someone.”

Up to #6 — the door I orginally exited from.  “I’m going to kill someone.”

Up to #7.  “I’m going to sue MANY PEOPLE and then I’m going to kill MANY MORE PEOPLE.“

Up to #8. The top floor of the hotel.  “Oh my GodJoeGod, I AM GOING TO DIE IN THIS HOTEL and I still have two hours and $25 left of Internet!  No wait.  That’s not funny.  I am REALLY GOING TO DIE HERE – alone – and nobody will find me for months – maybe years.  And it’s going to be painful and I will go crazy and I will try to eat my own body parts to survive and nobody will even watch my movie on Lifetime and oh-my-Joe, PLEASE GET ME OUT OF HERE. PLLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEEEEASSSSSEEEE.”

You can laugh – but the same thing happens when people struggle with your internal text search or get trapped in your lead form captchas and wackass checkouts.

We nicely warm and then all of a sudden – POOF!  We boil!

Here’s the takeaway.  (You didn’t think you were going to get sex tips did you?)

Active User Session – the length of time someone spends on your site.  The general rule is the more they stay the more they pay.  However, there is a right amount.  So figure out how long it takes for your average transaction.

Active Average User Session – take your average user session and divide it by the number of drills.  (If you can’t track drills, look at page views.)  This will show you the average length of time the user spends per page on your site.  You’ll know in an instant if people are looking at too many pages per minute or too few based on your conversion levels.

Knowing your user session (the length of time that someone spends on your site) and your average active user session (the length of time that someone stays on your site actively), can help you figure out exactly where your boiling point is.   Once you know, you can figure out how to prevent it using triggered emails, pop-ups, instigated chat, and even telemarketing.

I’ll talk more about these metrics in a future post – but first things first, right now, if you haven’t already, you should just start tracking them.  Ok?  Ok.

 

P.S.  In case you’re wondering, God (aka Joe) and his chiquita never opened the door for me.   I forgive them because I’d be embarrassed about their bad sex too.  The guy on Floor #7 – whom I woke up with all my “*&^%$#@ screaming” answered the door 33 minutes later.  He was naked and let me tell you, I was way more traumatized from that particular incident than the sounds of bad sex.  Thankfully for you, there are some things that even I can’t write about.

 

 

The #1 thing you need to measure that nobody ever tells you about…

Last week I wrote about my inability to put together a piece of IKEA furniture.

Turns out that, based on the post, many readers had strong opinions about my intelligence (or lack thereof.)

According to exactly 38 emails, I am about as “skillful as a surgeon with the tremors. “  (And that was one of the nicer of the comments I received.  You’ve got to love those Southerners.)

What does that mean?

NOTHING.  NADA.  ZIP. ZERO.

I got over 567 emails from that post.

So 7% of the people who wrote think I am three French fries short of a Happy Meal.

Or, to put a more positive spin on it, I’m kid-tested and mother-approved (if only) by more than 9 out of 10 of my readers.

In my book, that’s fantastic.

Perhaps I think a 93% satisfaction rate is because I have a traditional (read: offline) direct marketing background) where we’re elated with pretty much any number over 2%. 

Maybe it’s because I am just grateful for any response – good or bad. 

More likely, it’s because I know that whether or not 9 out of 10 people like me and/or my stuff doesn’t really matter if they don’t buy, quote, inquire or take some other action that will make me money at some point.

I know.  I know.  That sounds very harsh.  What about people who recommend me?  What about the journalists who subscribe and sometimes even comment.  Don’t I care about them?

A little but not as much as I care about the people who have the highest propensity to buy.

Whether you are trying to generate leads or sales, you need to measure what matters.

I’ve been doing this internet thing since before Al Gore invented it.  I’ve made many mistakes and I’ve had many scores.  Two things that I know for sure are:

  1. In most cases…  Your boss/owner will only really care about the home page.  People obsess over what their home page (and sometimes emails) look like but after that?  Not. So. Interested.
  2. In almost all cases, you’ll look at all kinds of statistics and do all kinds of reports that won’t tell you a damn thing about whether what you’re doing is right or wrong.

Measuring what matters on the web is critical.  Too often we get caught up in the wrong things – we get obsessed with social media mentions or our bounce rate, when we should be looking at our adoption to action.

What is adoption to action?  Any time a user completes a predetermined goal on your website.  (Your goal, not theirs.) 

Let’s take ecommerce for example.  Right now, everyone and their brother talks about abandoned carts.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been talking about them for over fifteen years, I get the appeal.  Abandoned cart programs are sexy and they can make you a boatload,  yachtload, fleetload, of money.   However, if you don’t get enough adoption-to-cart – meaning not enough people add stuff to their carts/baskets – isn’t that a much bigger problem?

Yeah.  It certainly is.

Adoption to action as a percentage is one of, if not THE, most telling metric you have.

Yet very few people talk about it.

Why?

Because when it comes down to it, it’s a really depressing number.   We can spin conversion numbers ten ways to Sunday to make ourselves look good but adoption to action numbers are a bit different as they’re at a more qualified root level.

How do you determine your adoption to action number(s)?

First, figure out what action(s) you want.  What your end game is.  Again, if you’re an ecommerce site, you want an order.  If you’re a service site, you likely want an inquiry/lead.  If you’re a blogger, you may want something else — people to buy your ebook…. to use your consulting services…  to +1 you in Google?  Hopefully you have more of a strategy than just being liked or plussed but… whatever you want, put that in a big box at the top of your paper.

Then figure out what you need to measure to get whatever actions you need.  If you’re an ecommerce site, you want sales/orders/revenue, thus checkouts.  So the main action you want is for people to go through your checkout.  The only reason why people would checkout is because they add something in their cart.  So, to get checkouts (or to close sales/orders), you need to get someone to adopt-to-basket.  (In other words, put something in their cart.)  So, the things you will focus on most are things that will impact a user’s ability to add something to their cart or perhaps to sign up for your emails because that’s a long-term way of getting them to adopt to cart.  (This is especially true of triggers.)

If you’re selling a service, you’ll likely want leads/inquiries.  To do that, you’ve got to get people to give you their information – whether it’s an email address or full-blown contact information.  The action you want is A LEAD.  You get leads by offering something of value to the user.  From a user perspective, when they give you their information, a “sale” is completed because there is market value to their information.  They have it.  You want it.  You give something to them to get it.

There are bazillions of ways to get leads: free newsletters, webinars, podcasts, white papers, quotes, and ask the experts, to name a few.  So, on your paper, you’ll write lead.

After you figure out what action(s) you want, look at what you need to get those action(s).  Don’t look at anything else.  Just look at the action and how you’re getting it. 

Does this process sound too simplistic to be of interest?  Absolutely.  Try it anyway.  The internet is purely a numbers game and this exercise will give you an idea of where you’re missing the most opportunities, which for me, definitely aren’t the comments questioning my intelligence especially when they start out “YOUR AN IDIOT.”

Perhaps Jackass but at least I know when to use you’re.

 

Stalin Is My Soulmate

V. Czechut writes: “I am wondering if you can clarify a point you made in today’s email.  {Note from Amy: she’s referring to this blog post which she gets via email, not RSS.}  You said that ‘most folks can’t look at data objectively.’ What does that mean?  I ask because we just spent $80K+ with a web analytics consultant who gave us lots of fancy reports but confused us far more than he helped us.  My VP thought it was a waste and won’t give me any more money for training or help and now I have to sort through it on my own.  How do I look at things objectively?”

Hi V.  (I’m always so suspicious of you one initial people):

I’m sure I will get hundreds of missile-mails for this comment but here goes:

My friend Brian (the one who thinks crazy women are better in bed) finds me to be incredibly judgmental of, well, just about everything.  To prove his point, he sends me a never-ending stream of quizzes like the following:

Here are the facts about three candidates:

Candidate A: Associates with crooked politicians and consults with astrologers.  He’s had two mistresses. He also chain smokes and drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day.

Candidate B: He was kicked out of office twice.  Sleeps until noon.  Used opium in college and drinks a quart of whisky every evening.

Candidate C: He is a decorated war hero.  He is a vegetarian.  Doesn’t smoke.  Drinks an occasional beer.  He has never committed adultery.

Which of these candidates would be your first choice?

Decide first and then scroll down for the response.  Then come back.  I will wait.

Now here’s the thing…

These type of quizzes, as corny and ill-conceived as they may be, are very similar to what happens with web analytics.  (Not for every company but for many companies.)

They look at the data and pick choice C – and then when they find out what choice C is/means, they immediately say “Oh, that can’t be right, Choice B (or whatever) was my choice and this is what we are going to do about it.”

I’ve been doing this web stuff long enough that I can justify or rationalize pretty much anything I see in someone’s web analytics.  That is NOT a good thing.

The key to making solid business decisions when it comes to the web is to look at the information that’s presented to you, WITHOUT bias, and then work from there. 

Yes, you can readjust your thinking – and there’s merit to being able to do that – but if the issue(s) is/are evident/apparent, don’t discount it/them because of your personal bias.

Stalin is my soulmate and Mussolini is the guy I will most likely marry.

I don’t even want to tell you what I do with Gandhi.

*** 

 

Candidate A is Franklin D. Roosevelt

Candidate B is Winston Churchill

Candidate C is Adolf Hitler.

Shawkneekwah vs. Amy: The Basics of Building a Profitable Online Business

{Note from Amy: This is an important post If you don’t want to read the story, skip down to the end and ask yourself the questions. Hopefully, they’ll make you think about your e-commerce site or your blog in a different way.}

***

Last night, I was at my favorite gym in LA. Unlike the chi-chi-la-la meat market I wrote about a few days ago, I happen to like this place. Granted, it’s got just as many bimbelinas as the other one but it makes up for its weaknesses with fantastic group exercise classes. My favorite is Soul Boxing — not kickboxing but full contact boxing – where you actually need a release form on file to participate.

I was late and the class was full so I headed on over to the Cycle class. I really love Bob (the 8:30 pm teacher) – he’s hilarious which is a good thing because he beats the hell out of the participants. You may as well die laughing right?

Unfortunately Bob was “sick.” In his place, Shawkneekwah. (Yes, that’s how she spells it, I saw it embroidered on her gym bag.) Shawkneekwah is one of those militant fitness instructors who believes if she SCREAMS AT THE TOP OF HER LUNGS some scout will ask her to replace Jillian Michaels on next season’s Biggest Loser.

To make a long story short, Shawkneekwah and I did not hit it off.

She had great music but she was doing all sorts of crazy things, none of which I wanted to be a part of – I like my spine, thank you very much.

About 15 minutes into the class, she got off her bike, stomped over to mine, and shouted in my ear: “Are you deaf?”

It was all I could do not to bitch-slap her.

I just kept cruising. If you hang around a 2-year old for enough time, you know how effective the silent treatment can be.

“DID YOU HEAR ME? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? CAN YOU NOT HEAR MY INSTRUCTIONS? YOU CANNOT PICK AND CHOOSE WHAT YOU WANT TO DO IN MY CLASS!” She screamed.

“And I thought it was called Bike Buffet.” I calmly replied.

Not-so-surprisingly, Shawkneekwah did not get my joke. (Granted, it wasn’t very funny but….)

“THIS IS AN ADVANCED CLASS IF YOU CANNOT DO WHAT I SAY, GET OFF THE BIKE AND COME BACK TO THE BEGINNER’S CLASS AT 10.” She belted.

Dead silence.

About three quarters of the class knows me personally and those who didn’t took the cues from the ones who do and immediately dropped their heads straight down. (More bad alignment as the result of Shawkneekwah.)

“I AM TALKING TO YOU MISSY.” Every inch of her 5’1” petite frame trembled. It didn’t take a rocket scientist or even a glance at her tomato-red face to know that my pal, Shawkneekwah, was quite livid.

“I understand.” I whispered as I increased the tension on my bike. (Note: if someone is screaming at you, whispering back at them infuriates them even more. It’s all rather lovely.)

“THEN DO WHAT I SAY OR LEAVE NOW.” Her words, flying like missiles.

I slowly counted to ten in my head, not because I was angry (I wasn’t) but more because I really thought she might explode like a volcano which, if nothing else, would have been an entertaining distraction.

But alas, Shawkneekwah did not burst so I said something like “You’d be a solid instructor if you didn’t make up all these BS exercises to do on the bike. I know you need to be certified to teach here so I am positive you know that no-hand steadies backwards on the bike is not good form, REALLY dangerous and it’s TERRIBLE for these bikes.”

Shakneekwah took one look at me (you know, the I-want-to-spit-in-your-face-but-I-don’t-dare-do-it look) and walked defiantly back to her bike.

I’m not debating that she wished me death at that moment, she most certainly did. But I’m willing to bet that she also knew deep-down, in her 8-pack core, that I was right. Her ever-so-brilliant (cough) idea to hover with your hands in a prayer pose behind your back is unnecessary and downright stupid. If you didn’t know what you were doing – and even if you did – you could easily get hurt.

In consulting you come across Shawkneekwah’s frequently. Reasonably competent people who would be fairly good/useful if they’d just stick to the basics… Sadly, adhering to the basics is something they are COMPLETELY INCAPBLE of doing. Whether it’s boredom or just plain insanity – they make garbage up to sound like they know something new and revolutionary… something you don’t.

I am not talking about breaking rules or trying to outperform better-than-most practices (both of which I am a big fan of), I’m referring to people who want you to do Camel poses on a stationary bike.

As you get better/stronger in a cycle class, you increase the tension – making it more difficult to pedal. In the web world, it’s very much the same way. As part of building your good site foundation, you may implement user ratings and reviews. As you improve, you’ll learn to prioritize those reviews so they’re not organized by date but by significance. (BIG impact on a shoestring budget.) You may have instigated/proactive chat in your checkout and search results pages at the beginning. As you learn the ins and outs of chat, you may move to chat ordering. (Companies who’ve mastered this praise its many benefits including significant average order increases.)

Are those things as sexy as segmenting e-mail addresses by Klout score? No. Do they sound as enchanting as time-stamped short codes? Nope. But will they mean a lot more to your bottom line? Absolutely.

Think you’ve already mastered the basics? Then answer this….

If you’re an e-commerce marketer…

What’s your adoption-to-cart rate? Out of 100 people, how many folks are actually putting stuff in their baskets? Most folks know their abandoned cart rate but they don’t know their adoption rate is equally, if not more, important. (If you’re a service business, use lead/quote forms in place of carts.)

What percentage of your folks are abandoning from your internal text search? Are you segregating the people who abandon on “successful” searches versus “unsuccessful” searches? There’s no doubt that folks who use your internal text search function are more likely to buy than almost anyone else who visits your site but you’ve got to separate your search results. Just because you think a search was a success because you showed your customer products doesn’t mean that it worked at all. You need to know how many folks abandon from your search AND how many folks abandon on any of the three subsequent pages after the search. (You can track more than 3 but knowing the first three will have the most impact.)

What’s your direct/no referrer completion rate? Is it quadruple (or more) your next best performing traffic segment? If not, why not?

Is your trigger e-mail program performing at 4 to 6 times (or more) your best performing thrust e-mail? How is it impacting deliverability?

Are you serving different checkouts to different people or do you just have one checkout for registered users and one for new folks? Checkouts, like entry pages, should be dynamic and based on the visitor’s user paths/streams.

***

If you’re a blogger…

Are 35% or more of the folks who come to your site taking an action? Signing up for your free newsletter, for example. (Taking an action does not mean leaving a comment.)

How much of your traffic is brand-new? Are over 60% of your first-time visitors coming back? Blogging “experts” say it’s all about the first-time visitors but that’s a lie. Yes, new traffic is VERY important but the key to a successful blog (in terms of conversion to an action or an order) is your repeat traffic.

What’s the average number of posts that new visitors are reading on your site? Little known fact about blogging: that’s where you need to pay close attention to your bounce rate.

What’s your referral rate for your blog? Out of 10 people, how many share it with their friends or colleagues? Knowing this percentage helps you determine what your future traffic will be which is beneficial because, in the end, it’s all a number’s game.

***

The above? All questions about the BASICS of your site that you should know. No fancy stuff. No bells and whistles. No pigeon poses or fancy twists without floor support.

Still got work to do? Thought you might. In the end, we should all be working on increasing our intensity on the basics. It’s just that simple.

Have a question or comment about your business? Send me an e-mail at info@amyafrica.com or jot it in the comments below.

4 Sure-Fire Ways To Spot The Idiots On Your Web Site

Yesterday, as I was barreling through the drugstore, a woman blocked me in the vitamins/supplements aisle.
 
“How many of these do I need to take a day?” she yapped.  “I didn’t bring my glasses and the print is too small.”
 
I looked at the bottle.
 
The print may indeed have been too small on the back of the bottle but it was clear as day on the front and it said…  Wait for it… 
 
“ONE A DAY.”
 
“Seven.” I replied as I ducked underneath her T-spread arms and whipped past her.
 
“Seven?  Really?  That’s not a very good value.  I guess the metabolism boost costs extra.”  She lamented with a great big sigh.  (And no, I have no idea how the metabolism boost related and I wasn’t about to ask.)
 
I turned my head to watch her hesitantly put the bottle back on the shelf.
 
For a minute, I thought about leaving her there stranded but then I felt bad.  It wasn’t her fault that her parents hadn’t been forcibly sterilized.
 
“I was joking.” I said half-heartedly.  “The vitamins are called One A Day and their selling point is that you only need to take one small vitamin a day.”
 
“Oh, that’s fantastic!  Just what I wanted to hear!  They are Buy One Get One FREE right now, you know?” She yammered enthusiastically as she happily placed two bottles in her little red basket.  “Thanks for your help.  Next time I promise I will remember my glasses!” 
 
In real life, there are a lot of people who go into the dollar store and ask what the price is of every item.  Sadly, in the online world, there seem to be even more wackadoodles.
 
Here are four things you can do to find them (the 3 French Fries short of a Happy Meal folks, that is) – so you can help them.
 
1. Look at your exit pages.  I’ve talked ad nauseam about exit pages — in fact, they seem to be one of the few things I am interested in blogging about.  Reason being: they are one of the things that you must look at and most people don’t because they’re not very sexy.  Your exit pages list tells you where the majority of people are leaving.  It’s your best weapon for dusting the seats of the Titanic.
 
2. After you’ve identified your exit pages, look at the most popular ones.  Then check out how much time the user is spending on them before they exit.  If the user is spending more than 30 seconds on an average page, they may need help.  (Instigated chat works wonders here.) 
 
3. Look at your bounce rate.  Many consultants dismiss bounce rate as not valuable because they don’t know how to correct it.  (You won’t get money for things you don’t know how to fix.)  There are two primary reasons why people leave immediately from your site — (1) they shouldn’t have been there in the first place (bad traffic) or (2) there’s a disconnect that happens in the user’s brain wherein they literally do not know what to do next.  (I’ll talk more about that in an upcoming post.)  Have a high bounce rate?  Consider using catfishes or sidewinders on entrance.  Look at pop-unders and midis on exit.  If you get a lot of direct/no referrer traffic, look at directing them to a different page.  (This is one of the best tips you’ll ever get.)  
 
4. Look at what words people are using in your text search.  If your navigation sucks, there will be a lot of dependence on text search.  (There’s more on this here.)
 
Users often need a little help.  As your site’s zookeeper, it’s your job to provide it.
 
Sign-up today for our Thinking Inside the Box newsletter.  It’s FREE and you can unsubscribe any time.  Did I mention it was FREE?

The #1 Thing Offline Marketers Need To Know When They’re Marketing Online…

Trisha Lynde says “I attended one of your webinars last week. At the end, someone asked what you thought was THE most important thing for traditional direct marketers to do (we’re a privately held business that sells primarily through the mail — catalogs, flyers, postcards, and the like.)  Before you could answer, I got disconnected and was unable to reconnect.  WHAT WAS THE ANSWER?  I AM DYING TO KNOW.”

One of the biggest mistakes that traditional direct marketers make — especially catalogers — is that they don’t separate direct/no referrer traffic from everything else.

If you mail; have sales reps; do outbound telemarketing; advertise on the radio/TV; or do anything else offline, YOU’VE GOT TO SEGREGATE YOUR TRAFFIC.   (This traffic separation thing applies to pure-plays as well but that’s a completely different discussion.)

For the most part, online and offline users behave differently.  (Oftentimes, they behave VERY differently.) 

Most web analytics folks don’t talk about it because frankly, they just don’t know anything about it.

Offline users who visit your website tend to have very different AAUS (active average user sessions); user paths; and/or drills and page visits.  The time spent per page often varies dramatically.  (Depending on how your site is set up.)

In many cases, offline users tend to come in, look around and then get out.   In others, they tend to spend an inordinate amount of time on your site – basically struggling to find something that they know should be there.   So, unless you get them to the right place rather quickly, their page views tend to be higher OR lower than average.  Same with AAUS.

Bottom line: If you are sending offline users online, you need to look at where they come in and where they leave.  You also want to look at how many pages they look at AND most important, you need to get a good idea of what they are looking for while they are there.

If you are a cataloger, look closely to see if they end up on your catalog ordering page.  A lot of times, offline users can’t find these pages because they think that CATALOG QUICK ORDER is the place where you’d order a catalog.  Not order FROM a catalog, but order a catalog itself.  (That’s why “ORDERING FROM A CATALOG?” typically works better.)

The most critical thing you can do with an offline user who comes online is to collect their e-mail address.  It’s important that you try to capture their e-mail on EVERY view of the site, not just on the bottom.  (Once you get the address, all but one of the capture boxes should disappear.)

You also want to make sure that you put the phone number all over the place, especially in the header (at the top), footer (at the bottom) and in the righthand column.  The phone number and contact information should be prominent throughout the ordering/checkout process.   This is far more important for offline users than one might think. 

You can also consider a catfish.  (Look at www.twitterwatchdog.com for a good example of a catfish.)  A catfish pops up on the bottom of the first view of your site on entrance.  Catfishes are one of the most successful (and least used) capturing tools.  You can use your catfish to welcome the user from an offline channel (if you have an idea of what it is); collect his e-mail address; or bring him directly to your quick order page.

The more you know about how the different types of users behave, the better.  Generally speaking, targeted offline users will convert better than online users, if your site is tailored for them.  (Employing a streamlined checkout, for example.)   This is especially true if the user is using your website as their preferred ordering channel (read: instead of the telephone.)

 

For the record, direct/no referrer is not a completely pure indication of whether the traffic is coming from an offline source.  Someone can come in direct/no referrer having remembered your URL from an e-mail, a friend, a past visit, etc.  However, it is a solid indication and with web stuff, you are NEVER going to get 100%.  No matter how much time and money you throw at it, perfection is not a possibility.  So, go with the trends and indicators.

Screaming Girls: Every Web Site Has 'Em!

Screaming Girl

So, about a month ago, I got bitch-slapped. Literally.

Yes, I know, for some of you that was the best thing you heard all day monthyear.

To make a long story short, I was in the airport. There were two soldiers (in uniform) in front of me and a very smelly (read: hadn’t showered in weeks,months, years) woman in back of me.

As I always do, I thanked the soldiers for their service to our country. No, I don’t want to get into a political debate about whether this was right or not – I don’t have enough readers to lose any of you – so I am just going to say I have traveled all over the world and I know firsthand how incredibly lucky I am.  (Whatever your political beliefs may be, you know it too.  We are unbelievably fortunate.) Personally, one of the many things I am most thankful for is the folks who valiantly protect our rights & freedoms.  The least I can do is express my sincere gratitude.

The lady (and I use that word VERY loosely) in back of me heard what I said and went into a loud, violent tirade.

I ignored her. She got louder, repeatedly tugging at my elbow, all the while screaming about dead babies and murdering innocent civilians blah-blah-blah.

The boys (look, they really were kids) had beet-red faces and kept staring straight ahead, as if they were frozen. Mortified.

“I’m talking to you – YOU – look at me – YOU look at me now.” She tugged once more at the back of my shirt – hard enough that you could hear it snap – so I whipped around and looked at her square in the face.

Ms. Hippie-Crunchy-Granola was frothing at the mouth. Quite literally. She was VERY angry, emphasis on VERY.

I was about to say something snarky and she hit me.

Smacked. Me. Right. Across. The. Face.

As much as I’d like to say that I brought out my inner Gandhi or called upon the Nelson Mandela who sits on my shoulder, the truth is it took every ounce of control to not pummel Ms. My-Armpit-Hair-Is-Dreadlocked.

Basically, I had two choices. One (and admittedly, the more appealing of the two) was that I could beat her to a pulp. In my brain, this was unequivocally the most pleasurable choice short-term but long-term, it was fraught with negatives. Let’s not kid ourselves. No matter who started it, if I retaliated, I’d be the one who’d get sued and even though my lawyers (who eat raw steak & mainline Redbulls for breakfast) would decimate her in court, I’d end up with a lot of legal bills. (And let’s not pretend that even though the judge would order her to pay, she would. Hell, the woman could obviously not even afford deodorant.)

The second choice was that I could call for Security. There were at least three dozen witnesses nearby and twelve intimately involved in this soap-opera who’d vouch that the Chiquita was mentally more twisted than a pretzel. If I played my cards properly, not only would she miss her plane and get hauled away in cuffs (insert diabolical laugh here) but she’d get blocked from this particular airport for a minimum of six months.

So, what did I do?  Screamed bloody murder like a five-year old, pig-tailed girl who just had her lollipop stolen by the boy she kinda-sorta-liked, of course.

And how, praytell, does this all tie into the internet?

Easy.

Your web site is filled – and I mean jam-packed-overcrowded-with-more-folks-than-a-Mexican-bus – with screaming girls.

You may be thinking to yourself: “Screaming girls? Amy’s obviously two sandwiches short of a picnic today.”

But whether or not you want them – you have them. And just like airport security didn’t really want to deal with me and the Commie-Mommy, you don’t have much of a choice because really, as we both know, they just get louder when ignored.

Yes, it’s true. Your users are wailing on your web site right this very moment. They are crying because they can’t complete their order… They’re sobbing because they can’t find what they want using that dreaded thing you call “text search,” which would be more aptly named “Can’t Find”, I might add. They’re whimpering over error messages that refuse to be cleared; forms that can’t be filled; drop-downs that do anything but drop; “enlarge this” visual boxes that get smaller, not bigger; pops that won’t close; and live chat that appears to be, well, dead.

So, what do you do to identify these blubbering bimbelinas? How do you soothe these sniveling, squalling Suzys and yammering, yowling Yvonnes?

Here are three tried-and-true things you can do:

First, look at your bounce rate. If your bounce rate is high, you’ve got screamers. (Hint: they are likely either screaming “I should NOT have gotten here in the first place” or “I hate what I see. You should have shown me something better.”)

Second, look at your exit rate. The only acceptable exit pages are confirmations and thank you pages. If you’ve got a lot of exits in other places, you’ve got screamers.

Third, look at the time spent per page. Lately, there have been a couple articles floating around the internet that time spent is a useless metric. Just because you don’t know how to measure it oh-so-lovely bloggers, it means it’s useless? Yeah, not so much.

While I agree that AUS (average user session) is not always helpful, AAUS (average active user session) can be INCREDIBLY beneficial to measure.

Every site – yes, even yours – has an acceptable number of drills (or page views if you can’t calculate drills) for every minute that the user spends there. If you see that a user is struggling on a particular page, chances are that they are screaming – screaming for an action button (or other action directive)… screaming for better navigation… screaming for instructions on how to get into (or out of) their cart… screaming for how to get to the next step… and so on.

Sounds like a lot of work? It’s actually not. Try it. Look at your top 10-15 exit pages now.Take out the good ones (in other words, the acceptable exits) and then delve into the rest one-by-one. If one of your biggest exits is a lead form, try to identify where the screamer is hiding. Are there BIG, bold call-to-actions? Is the form easy to fill out? You should be using server calls (or more advanced sniffers) on form and checkout pages so you know EXACTLY where people are abandoning. Are you asking irrelevant questions? (Remember, relevancy is determined in the mind of the user.)

If the user is abandoning on a product page, are they getting the item into the cart? Are there enough Buy Now/Add To Cart buttons? Do you address availability near the photo on the first view? Do they know when it will ship/how fast they can get it? Are you using tabs in the middle of your product pages for more details and user reviews? (A lot of companies find that users get “stuck” in tabbed formats and that users much prefer the spilled out format as seen on Amazon.) Are you giving away too much information on a product page? Is it a coming-soon product? If so, can you preorder it? Are the products out of stock? Do you have an “I Wanted This” button? Sometimes folks lose people because they tell them too much – this happens a lot with backordered products and with payment choices. If you tell someone that an item is on backorder before they add it to their cart, you may never know whether they wanted it or not. If you give them a bazillion and one ways to pay before they’ve even said they want the product, they may get lost in setting up a pay-you-later account and never come back.

The whole process is fun.  ALMOST as much fun as watching them haul off the Liberal-Run-Amok. Funny thing is that she had a chance to make me look like the Bad Guy but being the sharp-thinker she was, she shoved the TSA guy. If only we could send her type to the front line. We wouldn’t have to worry about casualties. Yes, I know. But some of you were going to send me missile-mails anyway.

Are Crazy Women Better In Bed?

CrazyGirl

Despite the fact that he’s a lawyer (in Beverly Hills, no less), my friend, Brian, is one of the most incredible men I have ever met in my life.

Brian is rocket-scientist sharp; well-read, well informed and well-versed; heartbreakingly sweet; a loving, single parent to two energetic young boys; easy to talk to and easy to be with in general; and good looking (with biceps the size of Popeye’s — after he’s eaten the spinach.) He’s fun, funny (Brian has a wickedly snarky sense of humor) and he’s got that whole sexy, magical, mystical air about him (he’s Iranian which means he was born profound and Rumi-esque.)

So, what’s Brian’s Achilles Heel?

Crazy women.

Yes, that’s right. Brian is attracted to Nutter Butters of the Nth Degree.

And when I say “crazy”, I don’t mean a little off, I mean in-and-out-of-the-nuthouse-over-the-top-Looney-Tunes.

Brian’s last five girlfriends could all star in the next reality show — America’s Got Nuts (although to be honest, I am thinking Fear Factor would be a more apt title — the fact that these girls walk the streets could terrify even the un-scare-able.)

His taste in women varies — so although they’re all beautiful in their own right, they’re not all faux blondes (like the spicy “girls just wanna have fun” party queen who is hell-bent on finding a Sugar Daddy… or two.. or ten) or heavily inked (like the girl who lived in the back of her car but had the latest-and-greatest BlackBerry — homeless chic, I think they call it) or voluptuous (like the ex-porn star turned almost-B-movie actress.) Brian’s “type” doesn’t really have anything to do with physical characteristics — just the emotional quality that says you need to be several French Fries short of a Happy Meal to get his attention.

Over time, I’ve figured out the reason that Brian ends up with all these wackadoodles is that he, like many men (especially the hot-blooded boys of the Middle Eastern persuasion), is under the false impression that crazy women are better in bed, which they are unequivocally not.

How do I know this for a fact? Truth is that I don’t. I haven’t slept with a crazy woman or any girls at all for that matter (no, not even experimentally in college.) I’m convinced my life would be easier if I was attracted to females but it’s just not in the cards for me this lifetime. (No, not even if I end up in prison, Ms. G.)

However, even though I haven’t personally gathered the evidence per se, I’d still be willing to bet the BIG BUCKS on it. Crazy women aren’t better in bed. What they are better at is selling themselves and their story. And for the love of all things holy, those wackadoodles can come up with not only tearjerkers but impressive achievements. I mean really… No sane woman (that may be a slight oxymoron) is going to dazzle you with tales of her last six years as the lead in Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity. (Have you seen how those girls twist their bodies? Yowza.) Nor will she suggest she got the scar on her shoulder from a chandelier-swinging episode ten years ago — you know the one that she “is just too embarrased” {insert coy smile here} to talk about.

Bipolar bimbelinas being better in bed is like judging a guy by his shoe size or his ethnicity, both of which may be an indication of something (statistically but not empirically), and not exactly of prowess.

Unfortunately, it’s just one of the many marketing myths folks believe…. but it’s not the worst by any stretch of the imagination.

The worst myth is that conversion is what matters most when it comes to online marketing.

You’ve got to be kidding, right?

If conversion is the only thing that counts, just reduce or block your traffic till you get it to where you want it to be. I mean really, if you have one person coming to your site and said individual buys (or quotes, or whatever it is that you want your final action to be), your conversion will be 100%. That’s impressive, right?

People come up to me all the time and say “I want to be like {name of site.} I saw on {name of latest and greatest report} that they get 19% conversion. We only get 2%. We want to get 19% like them. How do we do it?”

You want to get 19% because some company on a list gets 19%? Are you insane? Are you good in bed? I am doing a study…. Seriously, if said “best” company is getting over three-quarters of their traffic from direct/no referrer sources is that 19% number still good? Those are people that likely know the company — at least enough to type in their name directly into the browser box. Is their situation similar to yours?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you shouldn’t measure conversion because you should. In fact, we get a lot of clients because we often guarantee we can increase your conversion (and no, we don’t play any sneaky tricks like decreasing the traffic either) but we look at that conversion number with a grain (read: a whole lick) of salt.

So, what should you do? Here are five tips to help you measure what matters –

1. Know who you are. A home delivery food company is going to have a very different ability to convert than say, a B2B company selling cranes. You need food every day but how often do you need a crane? A company that specializes in diabetic medical supplies is going to have a much different ability to convert than someone who sells pregnancy clothing. You need to determine who you are, how much your customers need of your products or service and how often they’ll need it. (Then, if you want to compare, at least benchmark yourself to someone similar to you in your category.)

2. Look at your conversion by source and then set reasonable expectations. You simply must know where your traffic is coming from. Companies who have all direct/no referrer traffic are going to have very different conversion rates than companies who have none. Companies with big brand names (LL Bean or Land’s End, for example) are going to have very different conversion rates than a company like Bliss Living. Bliss Living does a lot of things right on their site but they’re relatively new and they don’t have a bunch of offline advertising (direct mail catalogs, solos, TV and radio spots, advertisements, etc.) to fuel them. Comparing Bliss Living to LL Bean would be like comparing a golf ball to a watermelon.

3. Once you know #2, you should try to prioritize where you’ll get your biggest scores. I’m not a big fan of looking at overall conversion rates because I think they are very misleading but more important, they also don’t tell you what to fix — in other words, where to start dusting the seats of the Titanic. For example, let’s say your overall conversion rate is 4% and you have a catalog business. Is that good or bad? Let’s look at your Ordering From a Catalog? page — how many people are going to that page? How many people are finishing/converting? If you are sending a lot of offline traffic online to place an order, they should be converting a heck of a lot better than someone who doesn’t know you from Adam. How many people would you accept calling your call center to place an order and then hanging up in the middle of the call? Not many, I imagine.

4. Know where people are stopping in your pipeline. This is critical. A lot of times companies do all the right things till the checkout (including the view cart page.) Then all hell breaks loose. You need to develop a funnel. The top (or opening/large part) of the funnel is the traffic coming to your site and the bottom (the teensy part) is the orders or leads you’re getting. These days, a lot of folks have enough traffic coming in at the top but then nothing/very little comes out the bottom. (Picture the bump in the snake who has just eaten a rat.) If you fit into that category, your conversion rate probably sucks. The good news is that scenario is one of the easiest to improve. You’ve got to know what’s broken before you fix it.

5. Ask for the order. I go into this ad nauseam throughout this QLOG so much so that I get frequently accused of beating a dead horse. Honey, till that horse is Alpo or Elmer’s I am going to keep beating it. A long time ago, in a land far, far away, I saw Seth Godin speak. At the time he was at Yoyodyne (a division of Yahoo) and he said something to the effect of — “you are the zookeeper of your website. It’s your job to take care of the gorillas (the users).” To this day, I remember that story because it was just SO clear — you want someone to do something, you need to tell them to do it — gorillas don’t get into their cages on their own. Don’t think that just because you write a bazillion articles on social marketing and are truly a social marketing genius (yes, there really are a couple that fit into that category) that they will know that they can hire you for consulting. Tell them you do it and then ask them for their order. Don’t assume that because “everyone knows you” that they will come to your site and order. This isn’t Field of Dreams. You want the order, you need to ask for it. If you want conversions, you need to fight for them. You can do what you want to get them — whether it be adding a perpetual cart/lead form, adding more buy now/add to cart buttons, strengthening your action bar to tell people what they’re supposed to do, or telling the user that you’re a psychic and you can see in their future that they’ll be giving you two children. I mean orders…

Note from Amy: I get very few comments on this QLOG. (Hear the violins playing in the background.) However, after EVERY post, I get 100+ emails telling me what I said/did right/wrong. I love the e-mails (please keep them coming), however, before you write, please know that I get that mental illness is a serious disease so you don’t need to school me on my insensitivity toward the kids who frequent the Cuckoo’s Nest. I am an equally opportunity offender.

Second, if you are questioning my lack of segue from being a freak in the sheets to conversion — please read between the lines and know that I adore Brian and was trying to avoid saying something pithy like “Brian’s a successful lawyer and a single parent. He has virtually no time to himself. When he goes out, he is typically looking for action. The crazies are the easiest girls to get but just because you act like a tigress in a bar (or play one on TV for that matter) doesn’t mean…” Well, you get the idea.

Third, Brian is not my type. I love him to pieces but the truth is that the guys I like are found here: http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/topten/fugitives/fugitives.htm. So, if you think that there’s a big finder’s fee in hooking me up, start with that list, ok? You’ll make the world a better place on many levels and you’ll even get paid (reward money) for your matchmaking services.

Absolutes: E-Commerce "Must" Measures


Elizabeth Smythe says: “What is an absolute? You said we’re supposed to use them but how can I if I don’t even know what they are or where to find mine?”

Oh Elizabeth, there are so many snarky replies I’d like to give you but alas, this is a serious subject that deserves a serious answer.
Here’s the thing…. Users want Web sites to be like grocery stores: It doesn’t matter which supermarket you go to in the U.S. — whether it’s a Piggly-Wiggly in South Carolina, Safeway in Seattle or Shop ’n Save in Maine — you know the milk will be near the eggs, flour close to the sugar and the bananas in the vicinity of the apples. You don’t expect ice cream in the dog food aisle or pickles sandwiched between puppy chow and cat litter.
A typical grocery store is full of absolutes. Same with a Wal-Mart, a Starbucks, a Jiffy Lube, an L.L. Bean catalog or Amazon.com.
There are things that work and things that don’t. There’s not a cataloger in the world who’ll tell you the cover isn’t a hot spot. Nor is there an intelligent Web marketer who’ll deny there’s a magic formula for the perfect checkout. The Web world is full of absolutes (best practices and must-haves.) You don’t have to like them, but for the sake of your online business, you should know them.
How Do I Learn the Absolutes? First, look closely at your stats. There’s no better way to find out what your users like and don’t like about your site than to look closely at your data.
Second, sites like MarketingSherpa.com, WilsonWeb.com and MarketingProfs.colm, or the blog at FutureNowInc.com, have many case studies and ideas about what’s working online. Look to them regularly to find out what others are testing; apply what’s applicable to your business.
Where do you start? There are so many things to look at that many folks simply get overwhelmed and postpone the analysis until a later date. Try these:
1. Abandoned Web shopping carts or forms. Find the percentage of people who start your online order-taking process and then abandon it. Look closely at the step where they’re leaving.
2. How many people are adopting to a cart (or a form) as a percentage? Very few look at this, yet it’s one of the most helpful pieces of data there is. If not enough people put stuff in their carts, you may have a pipeline problem. These days, most companies get more than enough traffic; they just don’t know how to effectively convert it.
3. Look at your conversions as a whole. It floors me how many people still think they take the number of visitors, subtract the percentage of abandons and then get their conversion rates. The only conversion number that represents is, well, breathing.
Look at each level of conversion: How many people request a catalog? How many people sign up for your e-mail? How many people convert on an order? And so on. Every action on your site should have its own conversion level. “Ordering from a Catalog?” traffic should have a much higher conversion than, say, someone coming from a MySpace blog posting.
4. Days to sale. How many of your users are repeat visitors, and how long does it take for them to come back? Figure out those numbers and your thrust and trigger e-mail programs will go through the roof. How so? It’s been repeatedly proven that there’s a direct correlation between the number of days it takes a user to make a sale and the amount of contacts they received during that period.
5. Bounce rate. How many visitors come to your site and leave immediately? In other words, what percentage of people coming to your site are completely useless to you and/or don’t see what they’re looking for on the initial entry page?
Three of the best absolutes in this business come from knowing how much traffic you’re getting, what percentage of it’s direct/no-referrer traffic (as opposed to coming from affiliates and search engines) and how much of that traffic is sticking.
6. Active average user session. Most statistical packages don’t have this number, so you have to calculate it on your own. Average user session is the average length of time that people stay on your site. An active average user session is the length of time that people stay on your site in an active capacity. You figure it out by taking the average user session and dividing it by the number of drills.
If people spend 10 minutes on your site and look at 120 pages, that means they’re looking at each page for about five seconds, which is a great indication of a severe navigational problem.
Despite what all those touchy-feely types tell you, the internet is not pink. Nor is it gray. It’s pure black and white. And the more black(read: rules and structure) you have in your Web business, the more black you’ll have on your bottom line.

Entering the Death Spiral


I am looking for a house in the Seattle area…

Actually, that’s a lie.
“Looking” would imply that I’m actively doing something and the truth is that I am hoping that the perfect house will just fall from the sky. (No Wicked Witch analogies please. I said Washington, not Kansas.)
A couple weeks ago, I was coming back from a meeting in Bellevue, right outside Seattle. The traffic was horrendous, as it usually is in that area, and the wireless signals were wacky. In an attempt to prevent myself from going into violent convulsions (a symptom of early onset cell and BlackBerry detox), I was arguing with my always-one-step-past-Road-Rage driver, Charles, about the shortest route back to my hotel.
To say I am directionally challenged would be the understatement of the century. I get lost in a paper bag and when I drive myself, the GPS Chiquita constantly barks at me to make “a legal U-Turn when available.” Needless to say, the thought of me giving driving advice to anyone is beyond laughable.
Charles, in his best efforts to distract me, was pointing out various landmarks in the area (In other words, he was reading the signs out loud, s-l-o-w-l-y, as if I needed help with the big words – hospital, Safeway, Wal-Mart, and so on.)
Out of the blue, something caught my eye. Since I could have walked faster than we were driving, I rolled down the window and took a closer look.
Beyond the obviously-newly-planted trees, there was a gorgeous housing complex right on the lake.
I am not much of an apartment-condo-townhouse type person, as I don’t particularly like neighbors or being, well, neighborly. (I am sure that comes as a surprise…) However, these townhomes were picture-perfect right down to their impeccable landscapes and breathtaking lakefront views.
“Pull in there, please.” I said as I pounced out the door, darted like Frogger across the traffic and through the freshly-painted walkways to the property manager’s door.
I burst into the room having mentally already-purchased and moved into one of these fine luxury homes. There was nobody at the reception desk, but I could hear someone speaking in the office behind it so I barged right in and demanded a tour. (Ok, so that is a slight exaggeration, but I am sure that’s the way “Richard”, the manager, would have told the story.)
“Richard” (not Dick, Rick or Rich) reminded me of the hotelier from Pretty Woman. Except he wasn’t very nice. Officious and professional? Yes. Pleasant? Not exactly.
He humored me with a tour of the grounds and the “last four bedrooms available.” I distinctly remember being amused at that piece of information. I mean really, the place was dead and there were only a handful of cars dotting the lot. They surely had more than ONE available.
Richard had obviously been an FBI interrogator in a past life. He went on and on with his questions about my marital status; payment/financing; exactly who’d be living there; and oddly enough, queries about my family, especially my grandfather. He had a seemingly bizarre fascination with my only living grandparent.
As we walked around, I fell in the love with the place. The lake. The trees. The quaint cobblestone walkways dotted liberally with hand-crafted teak benches. The never-touched fitness center. The on-site luxury spa.
As I was decorating my new place in my mind, Snooty-Snooty Richard stopped in his tracks and oh-so-rudely interrupted my thoughts.
“What are your intentions?” he demanded.
“Intentions?” I asked quizzically, convinced that he had tapped into my brain while I was planning my faux murals and knowing for 200% sure that he’d like the walls to remain snowy white.
“Ma’am, this is not a place to find yourself a Sugar Daddy so if that is your dream…”
Before I had time to choke on my own spit (or smack Sir Rude-a-Lot in the face), he continued sternly…
“This is a respectable community and we do not cater to those of your ilk.”
Good Lord.
I honestly had no idea. (And, I mean NO idea whatsoever.)
I had overlooked every clue – from the ten handicapped spaces per parking area (instead of the usual one or two) to the UNBELIEVABLY huge sign on the gates…
You know, the one that said something to the effect of “SENIOR LIVING COMMUNITY.”
I was so caught up in what I was doing and how beautiful my surroundings were that I completely missed all the warning signs that told me that I was in the wrong place – doing the wrong thing at the wrong time with the wrong person. (Yes, I know: STORY OF MY LIFE.)
Richard took one look at me and chuckled.
My shock was genuine and obviously all over my face.
“You didn’t know?” He softened.
I mumbled something about Charles being right. I did need help with big words like hardware store and supermarket, as I obviously couldn’t read them on my own.
I was earnestly trying to buy a house in a community I would not technically be qualified to live in for over twenty years.
And, the truth is that I should have known better.
I see it at least once a week (although lately it’s been happening a lot more frequently.)
Companies come to us for help with stories of sales being down twenty or thirty percent – sometimes even more. They tell us things like “we redesigned our site about nine months ago and it’s been downhill ever since then.”
Downhill meaning triple black diamond – not a bunny slope.
Most of the time, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out when their conversion started to tank. They just didn’t happen to notice it.
If folks were looking at their analytics on a regular basis, instead of trying to persuade their kindergarten class of 1968 to become “friends”, most of them would have known they were entering the Death Spiral.
Yes…. The DEATH SPIRAL. The never-ending plunge to darkness.
They get so caught up in working IN their business that they forget to work ON their business. They stop looking at the forest and only see the individual trees. They miss the signs – the ones that are staring them RIGHT IN THE FACE – the indicators that alert them to what’s right and what’s wrong with their business – and more important, how to fix it.
One of the very best things about the Internet – and web marketing in general – is that you always know where you stand, you just need to look.
Don’t know where to start? I’ve given you a list of my favorite (and most meaningful) stats below. Remember, when it comes to web analytics, or say choosing the perfect place to live, you don’t need to look at everything, only the things that make the difference.
Take it from a girl who knows.

6 Stats You Simply Must Look At:

1. Bounce Rate, Entrance and Exit Pages.
How many people as a percentage are coming into your site and then leaving immediately or within the first 10 seconds? What pages are they coming in on and what pages are they leaving from? This is, by far, some of the most boring data you can look at, but it’s also perhaps the most helpful.
It’s important to note that your bounce rate number should be in line with how much direct/no referrer traffic you are getting. A lot of folks tell me, “Oh, my consultant said it’s ok that we have a forty percent bounce rate because that’s the average.” First of all, acceptable bounce rates are less than 5%. Second, if you are sending a lot of direct/no referrer traffic to your site, it’s typically qualified traffic. Therefore, to have almost half of it EOE (exit on entrance) is beyond unacceptable. That’s why you need to figure out what your bounce rate is and then dig into why they might be leaving that particular page so quickly.
2. New Traffic and Repeat Visitors (as a percentage)
How much new traffic are you getting and where is it coming from? How many of your users are repeating (in other words, coming back to your site again?) Online businesses are typically built on repeat visitors. If you don’t have a 40% repeat visitor rate, it’s often an indication that there’s something wrong in River City.
With that said, you also need to make sure that your new traffic as a percentage is enough to get those repeat visitors, so if you have all repeats and no new traffic, it probably means your pipeline will fail in the not-so-distant future. Every site has an optimal activity traffic balance level and you need to figure out what yours is.
3. Abandoned Carts.
How many of your folks are coming to your site, starting a cart and then leaving without completing the sale? If you’re not an ecommerce site, then look at abandoned leads, quotes, or sign-ups — whichever is most important to you.
The key to this metric is to figure out how many abandoned carts you have, as well as identify exactly which step they are leaving on. For example, if a high percentage of your abandons come from your payment page, you may be offering too many or too few payment options. Or, it’s possible that you forgot to adequately address security and privacy issues which are paramount on that page.
4. Conversion
Look at each activity on your site and determine the corresponding conversion level. How many people are signing up for your newsletter or Webinar? Requesting a quote? Ordering from your site? Do you have multiple add-to-cart/buy now buttons on every view? Are you asking for the order often and aggressively? Do you have phone numbers on every page for the quarter of the folks who don’t and won’t place their order on the Web?
How many people are finding something they want to buy and then adding it to their cart? Abandoned carts are easy to fix but getting people to start their carts takes a bit more work. This is a big issue for many companies and one of the best indications that they’ll soon be entering into the Death Spiral.
5. DTS (Days To Sale)
How long does it take to get a sale from the first site visit? (Again, if you don’t have an ecommerce site, measure whatever matters to you – how many days does it take to get a quote, for example.) This is a killer statistic because it’s one of the things that will make the BIGGEST difference when you develop an e-mail campaign. If you know what the number of days to sale is, you can often shorten it by e-mailing more over a shorter period of time. Many of our clients have seen huge differences in their businesses by using trigger e-mails for this purpose.
6. AAUS (Active Average User Session)
How long does the average user remain ACTIVELY involved on your site? – meaning each click happens in less than 40 seconds. Since over 80% of transactions occur in 10 minutes or more, this is an excellent benchmark for you to know. My general rule-of-thumb is, “the more they stay, the more they pay”, so this is a metric I pay a lot of attention to.
I look at a site’s AAUS and user drills (actions) to figure out if they are staying long enough to accomplish a particular goal. For example, if you want someone to request a quote and they are only spending 1.2 minutes on your site, it’s not likely to happen – that is, unless your site is ONLY a lead form!