All Web Site Traffic is NOT Created Equal

Written by  May 26, 2007

Ya know, It’s hard to comprehend I know, but would you believe people still talk in “Hits”? Recently I read the following from an e-commerce store owner (and this seems to be a common “theme” among may other online store owners as well):

I have a site that is getting hits but no sales. Visitors come and look around at the products but don’t buy. I know the site is probably slow for dial up visitors but there must be another problem. I have good prices with some items on sale. I believe the SSL is set correct. Anyone see any glaring problems? Can it be that PayPal is the credit card processor? Any comments would be appreciated.

Let me set the record straight. “Hits”, well ah, that term went out with the dinosaurs, and should, for analysis purposes, never be looked at. Read on to see what a “hit” really is and what number you should be looking at to accurately determine the REAL number of visitors you are getting. A “hit” is not it.

I’m going to approach this one from a different perspective (non technology related, and more “marketing / customer focus” related). Technology is important, but it is only one part of the whole puzzle. It’s the foundation that everything else builds on. It’s the whole “Customer Experience” from beginning to end (from the moment they first come in contact with you until the moment they either buy or leave) that you should be concerned with. If you haven’t read my post on Customer Experience, you should.

Now, A few comments:

1. All traffic is NOT created equal. There is “Traffic” and there is “QUALIFIED Traffic”. Do you know if your visitors are QUALIFIED already? If not, you can’t appropriately say they “should buy”, and you can’t make proper adjustments to your site until you know that.

As a sample illustration, let’s say you have a brick and mortar store you sell from on a “busy street”. You get a lot of “visitors” walking buy the store, BUT, a “Window shopper” is less qualified to buy, and probably will not. However, a person that actually walks into the brick and mortar store is more qualified and therefore more likely to buy from you. Make sense? It’s no different on the Internet.

You have to determine who is qualified and who is not (the difference on the internet is that just because a visitor “comes to your site” doesn’t mean they are qualified). You have to begin to qualify them from the first moment they come in contact with you. This could be through Organic SEO, Paid Search (PPC), or any number of other advertising means. It is also achieved through proper tracking and analysis.

2. “Hits” is the wrong number to be looking at. This is a term that went out with the dinosaurs. You should be looking at “UNIQUE Visitors” to get a real idea of how many visitors your site is receiving. To loosely define a “hit”; a “Hit” occurs when a visitor requests information (any information) from your site / server. Even a BOT can create a “hit”.

A “hit” works like this:

Let’s say you have (for simplicity sake) a single web page that has 10 pictures on it (and nothing else at all). If I come to your web site, and look at that page, you will see 10 “hits” (although I am only 1 unique visitor). If another visitor comes to the site, you’ll see 10 mores hits (but you have only got 2 REAL unique visitors).

So, my question is … what is the TRUE number of visitors your site is getting now that you know what a “hit” is? Look at UNIQUE Visitors to get the true figure.
3. You could have everything in place and the site could look super, however, if the traffic you are getting is not qualified, you still will not see any sales. It’s that simple. This is the same for any site even up to the big e-commerce sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc… The basic principles of “e-commerce Best Practices” are the same.

4. As for the PayPal piece, read my posts on that topic for more information on how to utilize PayPal as a payment solution and still recover potential lost sales from your store.

4 Layers of  a web siteThe “guts” of your online store is the “technology” piece of your “Customer Experience” puzzle. However, you need to look at the other 3 pieces of the puzzle as well. “Website Design”, “Website Usability”, and “Customer Influence”.

Unless all 4 pieces of the puzzle are addressed, and traffic is qualified, your sales will always be “less than what they can be”.

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