“Build it and they will come.” Okay, you’ve built it, and your reports show that visits to your Web site are on the rise.
Good for you. Now what?
As we continue our dive into Web site analytics, let’s discuss that age-old Internet metric: the Web site “visit.” What’s a visit, and what does it mean to home improvement companies?
Quite simply, you accrue a visit when an Internet user (hopefully a homeowner) makes his or her way over to your Web site by:
- typing your Web site’s address directly into a Web browser;
- searching on a phrase in a search engine, reviewing the results, and clicking on a hyperlink that points to your Web site;
- clicking on a hyperlink pointing to your Web site that’s contained in an e-mail or listed on another Web site
As a general rule, the more visits you get to your Web site, the better. In essence, the number of visits to your Web site is a barometer of the effectiveness of your marketing strategy
Visits to your Web site are readily trackable. The chart below shows the number of visits to a Web site during the month of October:
Nice and simple. Not.
Consider some caveats when you use the visits metric, however. First, the number of visits includes repeat visitors. So while your Web site may host 1,000 visits in a given month, 125 of those visitors may well have been to your Web site before.
That’s not necessarily a problem. But it does mean your number of new potential opportunities to sell something during the month from those visits has dropped to 875.
Now let’s assume that you’re a home improvement company in the Cleveland area. You cover a 50-mile radius around the city, which gives you a fairly sizable operating area.
How many of your Web site visits represent homeowners who actually live in your operating area? Needless to say, visits from homeowners in your target area are much more valuable to you than visits from outside that area. “Out-of-area” visits are inevitable and you shouldn’t worry about them. But you must focus on attracting and tracking visits from homeowners within your territory. The chart above does not take into account the distinction between “in-area” and “out-of-area” visitors.
And then there are “cheap visits.” You can drive this lower quality traffic to your Web site in a variety of ways, such as a campaign highlighting an online sweepstakes giveaway. Much like offline sweepstakes offers, online sweepstakes will generate lots of Web site visits, but result in an extremely low rate of conversions into appointments.
Some home improvement companies can work with that type of lead, but most can’t. In short, “cheap visits” rarely translate into phone calls, and can skew your overall visits metric.
Another source of “cheap visits” is home improvement companies themselves. I have seen users in home improvement companies set their firm’s own home page as the default page in their Internet browsers. As those users fire up their computers every day, they instantly become another “cheap visit” tracked by their company’s Web site analytics.
Sure, it’s great that employees display company spirit by visiting your Web site often. But this practice completely distorts your use of visits as a Web site metric. In fact, I know of a summer resort in New Hampshire that was getting more than 50% of its Web site’s visits from the resort’s own computers!
So that’s my take on Web site “visits.” Next up, “page views.”