Friday, 12 April 2013

The Importance of Measuring Trends

In an earlier post I highlighted the importance of using Google Analytics to measure the activity on websites and blogs. Also, in another post, I discussed the importance of being able to pass the 8-second test.

Today's post is looking at how the first, Google Analytics, helps to measure whether the second, the 8-second test, is being achieved. Plus it considers if performance is going in the right direction.

In the diagram below is a trend analysis taken from my Google Analytics report. 

This part of the report provides some useful data. Not only does it tell me the result from each performance indicator, but also the trend of that indicator. Apart from the page views, which are on the increase, the other four indicators are also improving. On three I'm looking for an upward slope, and the the fourth (Bounce Rate) a downward slope. The 8-second test I mentioned earlier is about a website's 'stickiness' - the ability to keep a visitors attention for more than 8-seconds. 50% of websites loose their visitors before 8-seconds is up. My results show that visitors are staying on this site for almost two and a half minutes, on average. That isn't too bad as an average, particularly for a relatively new site, and the trend is increasing. They are also viewing on average three postings per visit. The site is also attracting plenty of new visitors, but also 30% of the activity is people returning. Currently the number of visitors is growing rapidly, but as it matures I'll expect to see the 'New Visits' drop slightly as the returning audience grows. Finally the bounce rate. This is a very important indicator. The bounce rate is calculated my measuring the number of visitors who leave a site from the same page they entered the site, without visiting any other page. Poor 'landing pages' push up bounce rates, so make sure your audience is sent to the right page. (Again, the 8-second test post discusses this issue.)
Depending on which research you read, the average bounce rate for a website is just over 40%. My current bounce rate, from my Google Analytics report is showing it to be under 16%, and the trend downwards, which is also very positive and encouraging. 

A final point on why trends are important 
Let's say you have a website where the bounce rate is currently 30%. That's better than average, and you may be happy with that result. But what was it, say a month ago? If it was higher than 30% then the performance of the site is improving. If it was lower than 30%, the performance of the site is dropping off. Current performance is just an indicator of what is happening now. A trend indicator helps to identify if things are getting better, or worse. 

One key tip with lowering bounce rates is to ensure all links on your site, which go to another website, open the other site in a new window. If they don't, clicking the link takes your visitor away from your site, perhaps never to return.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

How to add a link to an image in Blogger

When you add an image into your blog posting within Blogger, the software has a built in default. If someone clicks on the image, it just opens up in a lightbox. Just click on the image below to see what I mean. But before you do, remember to click the cross in the top right hand corner of the lightbox to close the image.

So as you saw, if you did click the image, it essentially opens in the same window, which in turn increases the chances of someone incorrectly closing the page. 

One thing you may want your reader to do is go to another location, using the image as a link. To help overcome this problem, I've written a tutorial on my author website explaining how to set up an image with a link when using Blogger. And to prove it works, and to read the tutorial, just click on the image below to be taken to it. You'll also note the link opens a new window.

If you read the tutorial I hope you found it useful.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The best marketing campaign ever?

Sometimes humour is a great way of getting a message across.

Apart from being an amusing cartoon, it does demonstrate that the window repair company understand what the 'A' in 'AIDA' stands for, although their unorthodox marketing strategy will probably start to untangle at the 'Desire' stage. (Who would have the desire for their products after that 'intro'?)

As authors our first objective is to gain attention for our book(s). If we are using tools such as Twitter to grab that attention, then the message has to stand out from the crowd. That is a huge challenge with only 140 characters to play with, particularly if 20 of those characters are being used to create a link to your book. 

Three strategies often adopted to grab attention, which utilise an approach called disruption, are:
Location: Placing adverts or messages in very unexpected situations. I once ran a full-page newspaper advert upside down. It certainly created a spike in sales, but after requests from other advertisers, who wanted to do the same thing, the paper refused to run any more adverts upside down again. Coming up with an idea before your competitors is always an advantage, as ideas can quickly go stale.
Shock factor: Grabbing people's attention can be done easily with a shock. The cartoon above being an example. Shock is a dangerous strategy if it goes wrong, but get the balance right, and it can have dramatic results on sales.
Personalisation: It's hard to ignore something if it is aimed at you specifically. Many authors run blogs similar to daily newspapers, and their tweets state 'top stories today from ________' Imagine the blank space contains your Twitter handle. Will you click the link? You bet.
I hope this post has inspired you to think of different ways to grab the attention of your target market.