Web Marketer, Don’t Be Misled!

In the spirit of April Fools, I’m going to play a dirty trick on all of the web sites that play a dirty trick on you, by exposing the dirty little secrets they don’t want you to know about. (Why? Because I’m sick and tired of people believing the hype that only “hits” matter, or, more specifically, only the quantity thereof matters. I’d hoped that many of you would have heeded the wise words of The Brain, but it’s clear to me that many of you haven’t. So here it is in layman’s terms.)

1. Hit counts can be wildly inflated – with ease!

Don’t believe me? Here’s a list of ways you can increase your hit count, with very little effort on your part.

  1. Use a web analytics tool that counts every embedded link as a unique hit.
    Some analytics tools will (by default) count every unique request, which includes every image embedded with a page and every embedded page in a frame set, as a unique hit. If you go heavy on images and frames and use such a package, you’ll see your hits spike overnight!
  2. Use a third party e-mail digest service to publicize your RSS feeds.
    Most of these tools can be configured to include images and links directly from your websites, and most people use e-mail clients (like Outlook) that automatically load images in e-mails for preview, whether the emails are actually perused or not. So, lo-and-behold, multiple hits for every e-mail, even if it isn’t even read!
  3. Use paid-per-click advertising on community, link, and warez share sites.
    • Warez communities will support their favorite sites by clicking a paid-per-click link, and then ignoring whatever pops up.
    • There are link-share link-protector sites that people use to share links because they get paid for each page visit — each page includes nothing but an ad, and unless the ad is clicked on, the visitor will have to wait a minimum amount of time to get the link. However, experienced surfers will again click, close the pop-up, and continue to their link.
    • Warez sharing sites support their bandwidth costs by forcing users to click on ads — but, as above, users get very good at closing the pop-ups with hot-keys as fast as they click on the links.
  4. Include content on a popular topic, even if it’s unrelated to your site.
    Nobody wants to read about your love of teddy bears in leather jackets? No problem! Include a few pages about Britney’s love of teddy bears in leather jackets. (Of course, you risk a stern warning letter from her legal team, but you can always take the page down after your hit count skyrockets.)
  5. Allow people to comment on the ire of the day.
    Nobody is interested in a conversation about the foraging habits of lemmings? No problem. Add a post about how even lemmings won’t jump off a cliff for Vista (and be sure to include Vista in the post title), then watch your hit count, and comment count, skyrocket. (Of course, there likely won’t be a single useful comment as it will just be the gripers griping and the Microsoft plants extolling the virtues of Vista, but who cares, you got an exponential increase in hits!)
  6. Offer Free Stuff!
    Some people have nothing better to do than try to collect and win free stuff on the internet. Offering even a single free iPod to one lucky visitor during the month of May will attract a lot of hits if your offer is legit and people trust that it is.
  7. Include a web-cam feed that updates every few seconds.
    This will force part of the page to refresh every few seconds, and generate a new hit. Don’t have a web-cam? No problem. Borrow a feed from a random live public webcam somewhere on the net.
  8. Set-up a bot on your home network to automatically visit the site on a regular basis.
    And while you’re at it, if you’re like most subscribers on cable ADSL service, set up your router to drop and request a new IP address on a regular basis. Watch your hit count explode!
  9. Link-Share Mania!
    Find as many link-sharing sites as you can and trade links. Focus on those that have a “link of the day” and agree to cross-promote using your own “link of the day”. A single link-share won’t do much, but an aggressive campaign will keep a revolving door of visitors rotating in, and out, of your site.

I could go on, but this e-mail is getting long …

2. A hit from just any boor isn’t going to do you a damn bit of good.

If you’re a vendor perusing this blog, chances are you’re selling enterprise software and services – not selling CDs and DVDs to web surfers who make the occasional impulse buy. Although the same person who signs the enterprise software check might also buy the occasional CD and DVD online, 99.9997% of random web-surfers are not CFOs with check signing authority. And of the 0.0003% who are, they’re not going to click an “add to cart” and buy your product on-line. It’s not a numbers game. 100,000 clicks from boors aren’t going to result in a single lead for you, direct or indirect. Contrariwise, 10 clicks from people genuinely interested in the types of solutions you have to offer are.

Enterprise software buying decisions are made in boardrooms – where proposals from identified and subsequently qualified vendors are evaluated. Vendors aren’t even invited to submit a response to an initial RFI unless someone at the company indicates that their knowledge of the vendor leads them to believe that the vendor might be able to offer an appropriate solution.

Enterprise software buying decisions are made by busy people – many of whom don’t have a lot of time to do a lot of web surfing. These people visit a select few trusted sites every day, and only branch outside that domain when forwarded a link from a trusted colleague or subordinate – and only if they think the link will be of relevance.

3. You need consistency.

A site that employs many of the above tactics will get a lot of visitors every day, but how many of them will be repeat visitors? The age we live in should probably be called the advertising age because we’re now blasted with more ads per minute than advertisers of last century ever thought possible. A single impression of your ad is not going to be that memorable – especially when you’re selling a product that is only bought once every few years. You need to be sure that you’ll be remembered when the appropriate buying cycle comes up – which might not be for six, nine, or even eleven months if the buying window just passed. It’s going to take multiple impressions to get into a potential buyer’s long term memory – and that takes regular, repeat visits.

As you have probably figured out by now, Sourcing Innovation doesn’t play any of the hit-increasing games above. Here’s why:

  • SI is interested in not only how many visitors it gets a day, but how this number holds up over time.
    Although deploying the above tactics would get considerable short-term traffic bursts, not only would most of this traffic not come back, but it could also alienate some regular readers who constitute the very market you should care about.
  • SI wants visitors who care about sourcing and procurement and supply and spend management and want to do it better.
    Isn’t that the type of customer you want?