The Learning Curve

New tricks for an old dog.

So shoot me! Just freaking shoot me, now!

Seth Godin made a good point yesterday in his post, How to misuse Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is a nifty free tool that gathers and presents all sorts of cool information about daily traffic to your website. But, as Seth writes, “traffic is a red herring. At best, it’s distracting, a stand-in for something more useful. At worst, though, it’s dangerous, because the quest for traffic causes you to make bad decisions.”

I’d been carrying Jim Sterne’s book, Web Metrics, around with me for about three years now, being impressed with the good sense of what Jim wrote and recommended, but being totally flummoxed about how to actually implement any part of of what he suggested. There were no cheap and easy solutions that I could find, until the middle of January when I discovered Google Analytics, and fell in love.

It really was a lot like falling in love. I’d check my web statistics every two hours through the day, be disappointed if Google didn’t update the numbers frequently enough, and I’d wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning to see how many people had visited my site, and in what parts of the world they were located. It was a totally eye-opening experience for me. The clueless one had had finally found a clue, and I was excited about it.

But then, after about four weeks . . . it got boring. I didn’t exactly fall out of love, but my priorities shifted.

So shoot me. I got intoxicated, if not downright drunk, on web traffic numbers. The total shame of it is that four months later, I still haven’t tracked my first web visitor through a conversion funnel, even if I do appreciate the importance of the concept and the process.

Here I must disagree with Seth. Just looking at the traffic numbers taught me at least two important things. The first is that about 30% of my visitors are from outside the United States. The second this is that my site has a very high percentage of repeat visitors.

This information, I think, might affect the basic design of the conversion process itself.

We shall see.

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Written by Tom Fox

05/11/2007 at 7:07 am

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