Author Archives: Jeff Wilson
You may, (or may not) recall that a couple of weeks ago in “The Basics of Analytics“, we started to look at Google Analytics, trying to decipher what these metrics really mean. Below is part two of that post.
As the name would imply, this is the rate at which people end up on one of your pages then ricochet off to another site entirely. The bounce rate is the percentage of people who view one of the pages on your site, then immediately exit. So… by definition, the number of pages per visit for “bouncers” is going to be a grand total of … one.
You can assume that if they land on one of your pages then jump to another site entirely, they didn’t get what they wanted, or landed on one of your pages by accident.
If you find that you have a high bounce rate, you likely need to work on your content, ensuring that on every page you have resonating copy that provides a reason to continue to explore.
Average time on site
Well… if this one is a struggle to understand, you might as well pack it up.
As you would assume, Average time on site means, very simply, the average total length of time that each visitor spends on your site. How do you break this down and what does it mean?
It could mean one of two things; a) you have a really interested prospect sitting on your site for ten minutes, genuinely engaged and enthralled by all of the information you have presented. Or b) your visitor is completely lost, desperately trying to find relevant information.
And how can you tell the difference? Look at your pages visited against total time on site. If they’re spending thirty seconds each on twenty different pages, they’re likely not all that engaged and may not be finding what it is they’re looking for. You would much rather have a page or two where your visitor is spending several minutes actually collecting and digesting the information you have provided. If you have twenty minutes on one page with little content, your visitor suffers from narcolepsy.
% New Visits
As the grouping name would suggest, % of New Visits tells you what percentage of your total visits are from new visitors.
Is a high percentage of new visits a good thing? Of course it is. It means that word about your site is travelling. Of course, if your site is one where you want continual revisits and your % of new is 99… that’s not a good thing. At all.
Make note that the new visit percentage is based on IP addresses. If Bob clears the cookies from his browser and visits your site, his visit will count as new. The reality is that people do, in fact (or should) clear cookies out of their browser with some frequency, so this number tends to be lacking in guarantee.
The best use of this number is as it relates to promotions – internet or otherwise. If you’ve engaged in a Google Adwords program, this number absolutely must increase, and should increase immediately. Likewise, any traditional advertising where your website address is promoted should result in a heavy increase in new visit percentage. If not, your promotion isn’t working. Plain and simple.
And there is your basic lesson on Google Analytics. My next post will go into more depth, covering some of the more granular tools that Analytics offers and (hopefully) helping you to decipher the information that will be of most help to you.
For several months, I found myself suffering from an almighty headache almost every morning. It was generally accompanied by dizziness and a feeling of exhaustion. I genuinely thought I was coming down with something pretty serious. My diet hadn’t changed. My sleeping habits remained the same. I didn’t think I was experiencing any additional stresses at the office.
And yet – every morning – there it was. Within fifteen minutes of arising, I had this awful feeling, sometimes coupled with nausea. I changed to decaf. I ate right away. Nothing. It was still there. I woke up feeling great, but within fifteen minutes I felt like a small mallet was just striking at the back of my head. It lasted for about three hours, which presented a challenge to the rest of my day.
And then my eureka moment; I changed my morning routine by accident.
On one morning, upon waking, I made my coffee, then reached for my smartphone to check the 3,000 emails that I would go through. For the first time in a long time, I left it in my car. Not a problem. I opened up my laptop and flew through my messages, drank my coffee, read the news, ironed, showered, dressed, packed a lunch, hopped in the car and then started my trek to the… whoa. I felt great.
It became reasonably evident that I had no long-term disease for which I would need extended, intense treatment. I was just giving myself an iGraine every morning.
Yes. An iGraine.
My standard routine consisted of waking up, putting coffee on, then roaming through my abode with my head dangling completely off my neck, staring at my phone. It was to the point where my chest was getting a chinprint on it.
Was I spending the first fifteen minutes of every morning giving myself a staggeringly effective stress headache through neck strain while cutting blood-flow to by brain? It seemed like a possibility, especially in light of the fact that the one morning I didn’t have any symptoms was the one morning I didn’t have my phone.
So on day two; skip the smartphone check again. Day two; symptom free again. Same thing on day three. And day four. And so on.
There have been thousands of studies on neck strain as a cause of headaches and exhaustion. There have been even more studies on the lack of circulation to the brain causing both. What I don’t know is if there has ever been a study on intense smart phone use (and head position) as it relates to these things.
If you find yourself suffering almost daily from a morning of exhaustion and a headache, I beg you to try this one small lifestyle change. Lift your head up, or – better yet – keep your phone in the car. The difference in my life has been astounding without a morning iGraine.
Do you find yourself suffering from exhaustion and headaches in the morning?
“My website is getting a ton of traffic. I’m doing something right!”
You’re right. Maybe.
Here’s the catch. If you’re selling peanuts, don’t pat yourself on the back because you managed to enter the zoo. If you haven’t reached the elephants, it’s all for naught.
So… what is good traffic vs. bad traffic?
This is a little easier to distinguish. Good traffic comes in the form of people who are engaged. Bad traffic comes in the form of a visitor who stays for .01 seconds, and has absolutely no interest in going beyond that. Thusly, one can assume they have absolutely no interest in your product.
Google Analytics provides a wealth of data that allows you very easily determine how you’re really doing in relation to reaching your audience; the elephants.
This is the total number of new sessions that have begun on your site in the time period queried. This is not the number of people who have viewed it. If Bob enters the site, leaves to make a sandwich, then comes back, it’s two visits. One person.
This is the TOTAL number of pages that were viewed, regardless of who viewed them. Similar to Visits, if Bob decides to look at one of your pages, exits your site, makes a sandwich, then enters your site to see that same page again, it’s two views.
Here’s where it gets important. This is the first piece of data that tells you whether or not you’re getting to the elephants.
Pages/Visit tells you – as you might assume – the average number of pages that are viewed on any given visit. Like Visits and Page Views, it could mean that it’s Bob looking at two pages, leaving, then looking at the same two pages. So it’s really one person. But that’s not a bad thing. It means that Bob likely has at least moderate interest in something you’re selling. More than likely, it’s two people who have a level of interest beyond looking at your homepage. That suggests engagement. And quality.
If you find that your pages/visit is at 1.01, and it doesn’t move much, it means one of two things:
a) you’re being heavily targeted by a funky and evil machine sitting in a foreign land (often China or India). It has no interest in peanuts. It couldn’t care less how good they are. It doesn’t even know you sell peanuts, actually. It’s sole purpose is to collect information about your site. It’s searching for cracks to get through. It’s collecting email addresses that reside on your server. It’s considering you a prime candidate for future spamming. Though it’s big, grey, and ugly, it’s not an elephant.
b) Your content is lacking. Your homepage message isn’t resonating with visitors. You’ve managed to attract them somehow, but something was lacking in your homepage copy. They’ve obviously not found a reason to go deeper into your product. And that’s a problem. If you find yourself with great traffic numbers and low pageview per visit, it simply means that you’re not enticing anyone with the language you’re using.
Taking a few minutes to analyze not how many visits you’re getting, but starting to understand what’s happening once visitors are there will give you clear evidence of whether or not your site is “working”.
The cost of leaving your site as is can be immeasurable.
The cost to fix it?
The next post in this series will cover Bounce rates, Average time on site, and % of New Visits.
It finally happened. In a world where mobile phone manufacturers have made every innovation in order to ensure that we are “forever accessible”, one of the world’s leading mobile phone manufacturers (Apple) actually had the foresight necessary to recognize that the world is getting tired of being accessible. They actually realize, perhaps, that sometimes you can’t be – or just don’t want to be – accessed.
Apple is releasing a “Do no disturb” feature on its iPhone offering, allowing users to adjust their phone settings to block incoming calls, texts, emails, notifications, weather updates, tweets, and status changes.
It’s brilliant, and long overdue. Apple is betting on the fact that in this world of continual accessibility, some will decide that it’s okay not to be accessible for a few minutes out of every day (though most at first will – allowing adjustment time – choose between 2:25am and 3:18am as their “Do not disturb” period.
My first thought, admittedly, was:
“WOW!!! So… I can just hit a button? And I’m free? I can adjust settings in nine seconds, and I would have complete and absolute liberation? I could go through an evening with my children, and not see a notice inviting me to “like” a friend’s friend’s Facebook page on beaver dam spelunking? Well this changes everything!!!!”
My second thought?
“Wait…. I have an “Off” function. This application is stupid. This does nothing more than turn my phone off. The only real benefit is that I don’t have to wait for the damned thing to power up again. And this is innovation?
That brings me, of course, to my third thought. And it brings me to a recognition that this is, indeed, huge:
This application has with it a potential cultural shift. Of course, we could all turn our phones off, automatically enabling a perfectly functioning “Do not disturb” feature. But we didn’t turn it off. We have all called someone, only to react in utter disbelief that someone had the audacity to turn their phone off. You don’t even consider turning your phone off between 2:25am and 3:18am. Nobody would dare turn their phone off (except my parents, but that’s a different post entirely). To have your phone off is akin to an admission that you’re considering jumping. You’ve surely lost your job. You no longer want to deal with the world. It is offensive. It’s unprofessional. It’s the equivalent of turning your back on anything and everything important. And if after an hour it’s still off? It’s most certainly because the person you called went camping, had no signal, and are now a malodorous assemblage of randomly strewn appendages, having obviously been besieged by rabid black bears.
Or maybe they’re just playing a game with their kids.
Is this innovation any different than a power button? Nope. But it does represent something much bigger than any phone app. It may represent a cultural shift, where – if enough people start admitting that they don’t want to be disturbed – it will become okay not to be disturbed.
Cross your fingers. And if you happen to have an urgent requirement that I know about your beaver dam spelunking exploits; feel free to let me know about it. But expect to leave a message.
If it becomes culturally “okay” to have your phone off or on “Do not disturb”, would you take advantage of it?
Disclaimer: This week’s topic proved to be more complicated (and perhaps, contentious), than it first seemed, so we are trying something different; we are adopting a multi-post format, soliciting different perspectives on this issue. Read, comment, and check back next week for Edit/Undone, part two.
Where most of my entries have revolved around the retail or marketing side of technology, I wanted to offer some insight into how I believe the younger generation has been affected by what is now a simplified, easily corrected world. The Edit/Undo phenomenon applies (I believe) to life, work, and the retail environment.
I’ll go back a few years first, explaining the way things were when baby boomers were growing up.
If you had an essay due for school, you had multiple pieces of fools cap at the ready. You first wrote out a plan of the opening, body and closing, and the arguments or points that you would be covering. Then you drafted your piece on piles of paper, getting a pretty good sense of the wording. Then you would take a red pen, and make notes all over it. Then you rewrite it, hoping not to make an error. Then you write it again; recognizing that you made errors. Then you write it again, because your mother recognized that you used an arrow to insert a missing word.
And so – more often than not – you ended up with a stunning four page, hand-written essay that took only four days to create. And there were a couple of errors.
And you wrote it again.
That same piece today would take half an hour to construct. And therein lies the cultural shift as it relates to communications, life, retail, and all things everything.
The fact that every refined piece of work had attached to it an attention to detail and a show of caution ultimately translated into more caution and concentration in daily life. If you make a mistake, you pay for it with a consequence that required reapplying the same effort to get back to where you needed to be. Because of the entrenched notion in the back of our heads that reminded us that we can’t just erase something, everyone worked more diligently. On everything. For school. At work. In our social lives.
There was no such thing as erasing. No option to simply delete the parts we didn’t like.
Today’s younger generation grew up with the mighty “Edit/Undo”. You start smashing words on paper, highlighting, erasing, cutting and pasting, inserting things into a downloaded template that auto-corrects your format. It fixes your spelling errors and grammar. And if – out of a lapse in concentration – you accidentally erase entire sections on which you have worked incredibly hard… you have an endless supply of Get Out of Jail Free cards.
And it’s fixed.
There is no such thing as a true mistake for this generation. There are only temporary problems to which there are very quick fixes.
This has carried over, it seems, to every aspect of their lives, including their careers.
Next week, Meagan will continue the discussion in Edit/Undone part two.
In my twenty-some years in marketing I’ve considered one thing more than any other; brand. What is it?
The simple answer? It is a logo or company name that you see daily, sometimes even hourly.
And that, my friends, is the wrong answer.
It is true that a well-designed logo will instigate immediate emotion. Navy blue is power. Grey is wisdom and competence. Times New Roman is obedient. Arial implies modern thinking. Straight lines are racy. Rounded lines are more personal. It all means something. A good logo can help set up the emotion that you want attached to your brand.
But a logo is not a brand.
A company name is not a brand.
Those items are simple visual symbols of a brand. Think of a logo as a thumbnail icon on your desktop. Upon seeing it, you know what the program does. You know whether or not you like that program. You know if it’s useful to you. It’s instantly recognizable because this icon stares at you every day. It reminds you of your experience (and that of others) with that product.
But you didn’t base your feelings on the icon. Yes, you recalled the program based on the icon, but you based your feelings about that image around the utility that it opens.
A brand is much more than a name or a logo. It is the emotion that a customer feels when thinking about your product.
A good brand isn’t one that has the benefit of the most clever bus station billboards, the most psychologically beneficial colour choices, the greatest frequency of radio commercials. A good brand is the one that enjoys a positive reaction because it is supported by an emotion; an emotion that ultimately comes from a good product.
Mercedes Benz has never won an award because of a really cool, easy to recall name. They’ve never been the recipient of prizes because of their revolutionary logo; a steering wheel. And yet it has become an epic symbol of quality.
If next week a group of bright entrepreneurs launched a new retail store that sold pneumatic heel exfoliators, they would – in most cases – come up with a snazzy name. They would hire a graphic artist who delivers a brilliant logo. They would hire an ad agency that pastes that brilliant company name above brilliant copy, on every wall of every podiatry clinic in the city. They would send out creative, edgy postcards to members of walking clubs. They would join and continually post on the website “peoplewhoneedheelexfoliation.com”.
Life will be wonderful.
They have created a brand.
No, they haven’t. They have created a symbol of a brand. If that store doesn’t engage in good customer service, and their heel exfoliators don’t work, customers will forever associate those brilliantly thought-out attributes with poor quality and lousy service.
The good news? They have now created a brand. A really, really bad one.
As it relates to retail, there is a very clear lesson to be learned. If you are selling products from a company that is well-branded, you have the invaluable benefit of your customer base already having an emotion attached to that product. But if you rely solely on that product’s name, the expensive advertising, a cool slogan, and some hip colours… you’re in deep trouble.
Your suppliers have spent millions. Sometimes billions in establishing a “brand”. They have invested in and entrusted to you with something that holds remarkable value.
If your desktop icon (even though it’s a widely recognized icon) opens a program that doesn’t work, that crashes your computer, that freezes continually… are you going to continue using it because you see it daily or even hourly?
Facing this, some companies would hire a creative phenom to change the logo.
And that, my friends, is the wrong answer.
Being a cell phone user for more than 25 years, you can imagine the confusion with which I’ve dealt as it relates to the ever-changing offerings that have been presented to me. It’s not so much about the phones, but rather the things that can be done with them.
My first reaction? I want my life to be simple. Don’t complicate my lifeline. I just want to make a damned phone call.
In the last fifteen years, however, I have witnessed a remarkable redefining of what phones “do”. And I’ve been challenged to figure out why they’re still called “phones”. They’re not phones. They’re not just “smart”. They are laptops. They are fully functioning laptops that happen to have the capacity to make and receive calls. Since every laptop and pad is now capable of making calls, effectively offering precisely the same functions as their much smaller cousins – I would assert that for the sake of continuity – they be placed in the same family, renamed “really, really, really big phones”.
So now the question I have is “What the hell I do with it?”. What apps do I download? What apps will improve my quality of life?
And so the hunt starts. First, I look to see what’s out there. I have 416,000 apps available for download.
Of those 416,000 choices, 1,200 are apps that are designed to “manage my apps”. Really? And of those 416,000 apps, there isn’t a single “App app” that tells me what apps I should get?
And so, hesitant as I was (and remain) about downloading more “stuff” to my phone, I took the leap. I would dip my toe into the pool. I would now learn how to Apply myself. But I would NOT be at the mercy of Angry Birds. I would grab one sensible app, and be done with it.
A calendar device. That’s what I downloaded. And I liked it. It synced with the rest of my life, gave me a heads up on impending meetings, let me organize my time by providing plenty of notice for project due dates. Awesome.
But that’s as far as I’ll go as it relates to downlo… okay, there’s a pretty cool music player that I could use, but that’s it. Other than those two, I have no need for distracting programs that will do nothing but make my life more diffi… Okay. There’s a pretty sweet swiping keyboard that makes things a little simpler. And there’s a map device that could come in pretty handy. But that’s it.
And Score Mobile – a great utility for checking my football scores at a glance. And a guitar tuner. And a couple of news site apps. And an app that makes my phone sound like a light saber when I move it around. Oh! And a wicked little thing that – when I put my phone over my mouth – it makes it look like I’m talking. And the “emptying beer app”… that’s a must.
The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that’s all I need.
Having been a user of cell phones when they were “phones”, I was entirely reluctant to delve into the world where my primary tool for communication becomes a Playstation. But the truth is they’re pretty amazing devices now; holding more memory than did the primary computer aboard any Apollo mission.
There are some idiotic applications out there. No question. Having a Wiggles Songs alarm app isn’t going to make you a more productive individual. There are, however, some awfully useful tools that were developed specifically with the intention of simplifying your life. Or maybe even enriching it. Maybe.
I took too long to recognize the value of these utilities, and didn’t understand that they could, in fact, make my professional life a little simpler. And to those I mocked for downloading this stuff before I did?
There’s an appology for that.
What apps do you use? Have they simplified your life, or provided yet another distraction?
Okay… you’re on a busy highway. Multiple lanes. Middle of rush hour. You’re currently in the fast lane. You get a call. You recognize the number as being that of the world’s most connected headhunter. You hit the “answer” button (just because you’re a law-abiding citizen who happens to have Bluetooth – and you hate your job). Well happy day! This phenom has arranged for you to do a phone interview with a prospective employer. It’s your dream job. Huzzah!
Oh… one catch. Your new potential employer is calling your cellphone in three minutes.
Panic. No… don’t panic. You can do this. There’s an exit just ahead, and a gas station at the first set of lights. You can make it there and still have 20 seconds to spare. Or… you can reschedule (are you an idiot? This is your dream job!). And there’s your answer. You’ll pull into the gas station so you can concentrate on the call. This is important. You obviously don’t want your mind on something else while this critical conversation takes place.
And therein lies your admission. And mine. It’s about the level of concentration required to have a coherent conversation. By definition – if you admitted that you would pull over (and you did), you have also admitted that you’re able to concentrate only on one thing. It’s either driving, or having an intelligent conversation.
Are we to assume that despite the fact that while weaving in and out of traffic while trying to follow the flow in all six lanes, the deep conversation – about your youngest child being in detention because of an incident involving a fire alarm, a slinky and a Shetland pony – is perfectly safe because your hands are at 10 and 2?
Mobile phones have forever changed our habits and our ability to multi-task. They’ve proven to be invaluable, and perfect for conversations akin to “Yes, Dear, I’ll get the milk”. “Hi Bob, I’m running late”. Or ”Yes I got your message. You’re sure you destroyed every photo?”. Our phones were not, I don’t believe, intended for deep conversations while driving.
Hands-free or not.
In the vast majority of locales, there are no laws that bar you from calling into a radio station, winning tickets for the Tiffany Comeback tour (thinking that your kid will totally adore her and maybe you’ll bond over this and they’ll be every bit as excited as you are right now)… listening to yourself on air … while you shift, peck at a half-rack of ribs, and wash it down with a skinny double mocha frappacappa smoothie… while you’re piloting 4000 pounds of steel through similar obstacles at 110 kilometres per hour. In the fog. But it’s okay. You’re on a hands-free.
As the driver directly in front of you, I don’t care what you’re eating. I don’t care what you’re drinking. And I don’t particularly care where your hands are.
I want to know where your head is.
Where do you draw the line when taking calls in the car?
I recently had a friend reach out to me through a social media app that I have on my phone. What gave me a laugh is the manner in which he reached out, along with a recollection of the last time I had seen him; sharing an impromptu golf weekend some two decades ago.
What made this trip in the early 90’s so memorable were the circumstances that lead up to it. We had both endured a hellish week at the office, and felt absolutely justified in leaving at noon; fully deserving a couple of days of nothing. And by nothing I mean golf.
Of course, not five minutes after merging onto one of the 70 lanes on the 401 in Toronto (it has since expanded to 300 lanes), my cell phone rang. It was the office. I took the call (it was legal back then.). While I was on my call, my friend’s phone rang. It didn’t matter. We were on our way to an incredible golf course just a couple hours away in eastern Ontario. What’s a phone call? After only a few minutes, we both laid down the electro-cinder blocks. Done. Onward. To the golf cou… BRRRINGGGGG….
Phone call. It was his. It was a client. Not a problem. We’re on our way to play gol… BRRRRINGGGG…. Okay. This time it’s mine. He’s on the phone anyway, so I might as well get it. Bzzzzzzzz… Bzzzzzzzz…. As I’m on the phone, my pager goes off. Not a problem. I’ll return the call after I finish the one I’m on. I end my call and start dialing the number that paged me (work) because I want them to know I’m going to go golfi… BRRRRRINGGGG… It’s John’s phone again. It’s the office. They’re asking John if he has seen me. They just sent a page, hoping to catch me before I was out of town. It had been well over three minutes since the page came through, and I haven’t returned it yet. John passes me his phone. BRRRRRINGGGG… my phone rings while I have John’s to my ear.
And then it happened. After my call, John put down the passenger seat window, and out it went. The most advanced technology (to ever fit in what was then the size of a toaster oven) was now out the window. My turn. And I did it. I disposed of it. I was free.
It was, without question, the most liberating feeling I had had in years. Euphoria. Primal screams followed. We had just killed the beast! By slaying this dragon, we were disconnected from the outside wor… Oh… my… GOD! I’m disconnected from the world! What if my wife goes into labour? No… she wasn’t pregnant, but what if she was? What if my parents were trying to call? Sure, they call me at the home number every Sunday at precisely the same time, but what if this one time they were trying to get a hold of me? What the hell have I done? And my clients!!! What if, on this Friday afternoon, I had a client who was desperate to reach me?!!! Sure, we had a support team that was second to none. I had an assistant that was more capable than I. I haven’t had a client call me in a panic in two years… but what if THIS ONE TIME they really needed me? Oh God! What have I done?
I was miserable for the remaining two hours of the drive. I knew I was disappointing the world with my selfish act. I remember imagining the forty voicemails that I’d have. I knew at least one person would call the police, and possibly every hospital in the Toronto area, desperate to learn that I was okay. John’s anxiety wasn’t different from mine. We had disappointed the world.
We got to our destination. I checked in as quickly as possible, grabbed my room key, waited in an elevator that moved at a painfully slow speed – evidently aware that I was either without a cell phone or desperately needing to pee. I lunged myself to the hotel room and dialled in to my voicemail. I was fully prepared for the turmoil. I readied myself for the impending doom. I had done something extraordinarily stupid, and I was about to get called on it. I should have been available and I wasn’t.
And so, rocking back and forth, taking deep breaths to avoid asphyxiation, phone slipping because of the sweat, I was sent to a state of reality.
“You have… no new messages”.
The moral of the story? Nothing changes. I still check that I have my phone before I dare leave my desk or my house or the office. I still experience separation ringxiety . And you still don’t stand a chance of reaching me this Friday afternoon.
Not that you were going to try anyway.