Posting Dates:

May 2010
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Smart people love web statistics because 2 + 2 = 17 or 3. Tip #9

Statistics for marketers are crucial but as we all know, they can be used to support or deceive.   When it comes to web statistics, what is important?  Are those numbers bullet-proof or can they be shown to be incorrect?  We all know that 2 + 2 = 4 but when looking at stats it could = 7 or 3 or 17. Two plus two could equal anything, it just depends on how you look at those numbers.  Let’s look at a little bit of the lingo and understand the holes in the data before we look at how businesses should look at the web.

Hits:  Most people rarely talk about hits anymore because it really tells you very little.  A hit is calculated when a website page is loaded.  Every item on that page counts as a hit depending on how the page is designed, every graphic is a hit, the text is a hit, lines and tables can be more hits.  When a webpage opens, the hit tally could be 1 or 200 or anything in between.  Nobody cares about the number of hits.

Unique Visitors:  A great gauge in most cases but it has its flaws as well.  Unique visitors are calculated by IP address within a certain time frame, but of course I access Facebook on my work computer, my laptop, my home computer and on my Blackberry – therefore I am calculated as 4 unique visitors when it is only me.  In the case of company computers and even some home networks, IP addresses for individual computers can all sit behind a firewall and are all therefore counted as 1 unique IP address.  So 200 people in one office all visiting Facebook could only shown as 1 unique visitor.

Page views: This can be a great way to calculate traffic but it is flawed as well.  A page view is calculated every time a page is loaded within a website.  Entering the website is 1 page view, clicking on a tab or a link is another page view and going back is another one.  Different website such as Facebook can have users there for hours clicking on link after link and adding up page views in the hundreds or even thousands in a single day.  Now as a marketer, I see that as a definite advantage, especially if I’m advertising on that site because that individual user will have an opportunity to see my ad over and over again.  Frequency is everything in advertising.  Is having your ad seen once by 1000 people better than having your ad seen 10 times by 100 people?  How many times do you remember a company’s name after hearing or seeing it once?   Alternately having heard their name thousands of times, how likely are you to forget the name of the company that makes the Big Mac?

Advertising Impressions:  For advertisers, this is the number I care most about but it is still just a number.  This tells me the total number of times that my ad ended up in front of people.  It could be one person once and another person 10 times for a total of 11 ad impressions but I know how many times my ad was shown.  I can compare that to the month previous and can compare that to how much business I did compared to a similar month several months ago.  In the case of phone books, we pay for ads based on how many phone books are distributed but not how many people actually use them.  So when your city grows, so does the cost of your ad even though times may have changed and less people are actually using the phone book every year.  When your advertising impressions are increasing on the web and your cost doesn’t – that is added value.  A good gauge, but still just another statistic.

As a marketer, here is my best advice.  Put your business advertising in as many places as you can, reaching as many people as you can, who are likely to be looking for a business like yours, as many times as you can, for as little money as you can.   Simple.  Oh and if I can be so bold, I’d also suggest that you start decreasing the amount you spend in traditional advertising and increase your spending online.  After all, how many people pick up a newspaper or phone book any more.          [email protected]          250-412-3500

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