Measuring Site Performance? Don’t Settle For a Bucket of Cheetos Poured Over Your Head.

written by: Mike Granetz

December 11, 2012

Remember the scene in Dead Poets Society where Robin Williams’ Professor Keating has his students read (and immediately afterward, tear from the book) the introduction to an anthology of poetry suggesting that enjoyment of poems could be diagrammed? The unsubtle point of all that flying paper was that you can’t quantify an experience that is, at its core, about quality. It’s the embodiment of another timeless creative adage: I may not know art, but I know what I like.

That expression captures quite well the site-visitor mindset. And the best sites are engineered to engage the right kind of visitors — valuable visitors for whom the messaging resonates and who are then compelled to interact. Whether that means a demo request, a download, or something as simple as picking up the phone or sending an email, the single user who acts is worth a thousand times more than the drive-by visitor who blinks on your site for a nano-second. True, those people boost raw site-visit stats, but to what end?

We are often in understandable conversations with clients who tend to measure site success, as well as SEO, PPC, and content marketing campaigns, on the presumably uber-critical month-by-month visitations. We’ll be the first to concede that there’s nominal value in volume if there’s no action accompanying it, but we follow through with the insistence that we can’t (and quite simply won’t) measure campaign activities on a broadest-possible-appeal strategy just so they can watch a vanilla metric tick up every 30 days.

When implementing campaigns, always insist on a highly targeted approach, one based on creating ultra-precise content that speaks as specifically to their most valuable audiences. Craft a blog post or podcast to sync with upcoming trade show attendance, round-table session, even a client’s new business presentation. They can tell a captive audience of exactly the right people to check out their site for content speaking to the very advantages they might be discussing. In a case like this, the site is validating their public expertise. Similarly, work up content that might resonate with a particular media outlet, then share it with the hopes of re-broadcast via that outlet, or at least the establishment of strong rapport with a key contact.

Sounds tedious? Maybe. Does it work? Most definitely.

This kind of campaign activity requires constant attention and interaction. It’s not a matter of loading in generalized content and then peppering it with keywords with the hope of catching a prize visitor. It’s about identifying the prizes beforehand, and going after them via a sustained content marketing program. The result is the right kind of visitors on your site. It means lower bounce rates, multiple page views, and requests for your richer, more detailed content. That, in turn, means a more valuable prospect who approaches you from a more informed perspective.

If you want a high, raw number of site visitors, that’s easy enough to achieve — but it’s ultimately worthless. It’s like asking for something to eat at a restaurant and having the waiter pour a five-gallon bucket of Cheetos over your head. Sure, a couple might land in your mouth, but you’re still going to be hungry, and you’re going to be coated in orange dust (but that’s another matter). Regardless, we’d rather bring you a good steak.

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