Though I was hired as a web developer, with the assumption that I'd do some graphics production, design, copy writing and editing, backend administration, front end development - I am spending a lot of time looking at Google Analytics. Last week we enjoyed a nice spike in traffic due to spammers in Russia. Thanks guys, but I put you and your comrade in a Segment filter where you sit lonely and sad, not tainting my graphs and charts.
I'm also using the BrightEdge platform to analyze what keyword content best suits our - the company I'm currently working with - our needs. We have a pretty niche market, and as it turns out, it's actually easy enough to get traffic. What's confounding is trying to capture the appropriate traffic. How do we rank for people who are looking for exactly what we provide? That's the sauce right there.
My time with big data has been pretty awesome. Once I gave in (as I'm used to Getting Work Done and checking off tasks but researching GA is a LOT of just surfing, staring and mentally comparing) and let myself spend time looking through it, freely and as my curiosity guided me, and became familiar with the interface (enough to remember how to find something more than once), now I'm starting to see the stories.
I am seeing most people land on our home page and realize it's not what they want or need and leave. But I am also seeing a lot of people landing directly on product pages, meaning they Googled some - probably pretty specific - words and our product pages came up as options, so they enter the site that way.
Yet, there are no products shown or linked to on our home page except in the navigation, and even those are 3rd tier. On the home page we promote, topmost, a video about us. Watching a video is an investment, exeperience-wise. I nearly never want to click a video when I land on a company's site, when what I really want is to know if they have what I'm looking for. We also promote our top "Markets" - which I would prefer to call industries, because I think Markets sounds like we're selling fruit and packs of socks. Anyway, nobody goes to those pages, even though they are ~40% of the next step options on the home page and occupy the prime "above the fold" placement.
This tells me that given the choice, given an enticing image and some descriptive text and three readily available options of Markets pages, people would rather click on Products in the Nav, then the Product Category, then a Product that may or may not meet their needs.
And by the way who are we and what do we do?
When I pointed out previously that most traffic went directly to product pages, the response was something like, maybe we don't need to promote those pages if they're doing so well already.
I think that is not seeing the possibilities: If we give people what they are obviously seeking, plainly, easily, they will have a better experience and they are more likely to buy the thing they want... and once they buy a thing from us, then they're our customer. And if we don't suck and provide quality product and good support, then they may buy other products. Even if they don't, they may tell someone else about us.
It's like... gateway drugs... first one's not free, but first one is - what you want. Then you get it, and you're happy. And you come away with a positive feeling about that experience. And you're more likely to do it again. As I wrote in a recent report, "Why make it hard? Nobody likes shopping except teenage girls and the boys who want to ogle them." That's hyperbole, but to be clear - we're not selling Markets, nor are we selling our Design Services - those are ancillary and auxilliary (and free), respectively. We're selling products. So, I am proposing we go with a product-forward sales strategy. Make shopping easy. Don't try to lure people to the products over hurdles of case studies and vertical market applications that are really only obfuscating the end goal.
They say, "Science doesn't care about your opinion." Google Analytics and BrightEdge don't care either. The numbers tell stories. People are not being routed to things they don't want, they're trying to get what they want despite our obstacles and presentation of all products at the same level as flagship products.
Why make it harder? Why not go for the easy win and build on that?