Pinteresting Stats?!

A couple of months ago I went to an introduction to Pinterest session run by Creation Social Media which inspired me to create a Pinterest account. I blogged about it and promised to report back on the success of my trial. Obviously this trial has only been running for 2 months and is not that scientific in that my working patterns have made consistent posting rather difficult (!) and I have also been increasingly using Hootsuite to post to multiple social media locations which could affect the success of Linked In and Twitter. However I have seen some very interesting trends during this time and I wanted to share my thoughts.

Impression 1: A picture of success!

After setting up the Pinterest account I had a flourish of interest with my pins being repinned, a new visitor source on my site stats, and most interesting of all the duration of time spent on my site by Pinterest visitors was markedly more than my traditional sources of traffic (Google, Direct and Twitter). In fact my conversion measurements (duration and contacts) were very high from these original PInterest visitors. This was very much as had been predicted during the  introduction session that I’d been to and I was pleasantly surprised as I didn’t think my largely ungraphical business model would lend itself well to marketing via a picture based site.

Impression 2: PInterest responded better when traffic pushed by Twittter?

After this initial flurry of activity over the first couple of weeks traffic started to return to the usual patterns and it seemed, from the timing of visits and my tweets, that I would only see activity from PInterest if I pushed traffic to Pinterest via Twitter and they subsequently visited the site. I suspect that this is because much of the content I was adding to the PInterest was linked to my regular blogs and that this resulted in regular PInterest activity on my part being on a less frequent basis than the number of my tweets. However the other interesting stat I saw was that the engagement or visit duration of these visitors was dwindling and as they were mostly repeat visitors I suspect that this is because the ‘new’ factor had gone, they’d seen the main site content before and were just viewing the blog or had seen the blog elsewhere.

Finishing Figures: Fizz fizzled out.

By the end of the two month period I have virtually no visitors from PInterest anymore compared to my other regular sources, and those that I am seeing are not sticking around or converting.
In all honesty as those who do follow me on PInterest will know I haven’t actively pushed PInterest for the past fortnight but the trend was very clearly moving this way and I don’t suspect it would have made much significant difference. In reality the initial interest generated by PInterest just wasn’t there anymore.

What does it all mean?

I don’t think you can judge PInterest on these stats. Apart from the inconsistent approach I’ve used, I have always been uncertain that my business was well suited to advertising through this model and I know other businesses have had more success with it. In reality my business is a service that I provide so people are more likely to look for me through Linked In or find me by recommendation or searching for my skillset. However there are some learnings I think I can make from what I’ve seen:

  • PInterest was more successful when I backed it up with other Social Media tools such as Twitter and when it linked to blogs.
  • Fun pictures were great at generating click through traffic but Infographics had a far better engagement level when the visitors reached the site (I believe they were better targetted to my audience)
  • Repinning other pictures and sharing on PInterest increased my follower base but not necessarily in the right target market and didn’t seem to have a material impact on my overall website stats. However the figures I have are not really large enough to make a call on this for certain. I suspect it is like Twitter or Facebook, conversation and engaging with other users is important to build a community but only a percentage of that community may actually want to use your services regularly. The rest may be just browsing.
  • PInterest like all Social Media tools is only good when you use it regularly, keep updates new, fresh and relevant, and have eye catching graphics.

Have you used PInterest for your business yet? What are your findings? I’d love to hear what you think.

When is a website broken and when is it the message that’s broken?

The other day I wrote a blog noting that one of the most common questions I’m asked is how much does it cost to build a website in which I tried to explain why this is also such a difficult question to answer, and why it may not be the question which organisations should be asking.

A marketing purchase decision funnel
Potential customers go through many stages before making a decision to use a service or buy a product, and being able to measure your effectiveness at each stage in reaching out to these customers will help you to serve them better.

Another concern which seems to come up quite alot is “I have a website but it is not doing me any good.” When I dig a bit further into what is meant by this it often turns out that though they have set up a website they are not seeing any increase in customers as a result.

Fixing this problem is as important as fixing a website that doesn’t load, or one that has issues with it’s appearance when it does load. If a website isn’t loading then the fact it’s broken is quite obvious, however when everything appears to be working fine technically but the site isn’t achieving what it was built to do then something else must be broken.

Here are some questions you can ask to see if you know whether your website is working for you:

  • Do you have analytics on your website to tell how many potential customers are visiting your site and do you know how to interpret the numbers you are getting?
  • Does your website have goals or objectives as to what you are trying to achieve with it? (ie is it trying to sell something, is it generating leads/contacts or are you providing an information service) and can you measure the success of these specific goals?
  • Do you understand the steps your customers go through before making a decision to use your service, and are you able to measure your impact at each of these stages?

Potential customers go through many stages before making a decision to use a service or buy a product, and by being able to measure your effectiveness at each stage in reaching out to these customers it will help you to serve them better.

There are many challenges with marketing online in ensuring you are effective at each of these stages but two of the most common issues are: high volumes of traffic but no increase in customers purchasing or contacting you, suggesting the visitors are not getting something they need; or low volumes of traffic, suggesting some extra digital marketing is required possibly from some Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) improvements. Both of these can be resolved by analysing the traffic to your website to highlight where the potential issues are and often they can be improved by making some fairly simple changes. However the most important thing is to understand what your objectives of your website are so that you can make sure these are being met.

By understanding what stages your customers go through, and by understanding your goals for interacting with your customers at each of these stages, you can then put in place ways to meet both you and your customers needs. Then by measuring your success at each stage you can start to make improvements based on your findings: a recipe for continued success!

Whether you’re an expert at looking at web statistics or not, sometimes if you are running a business it  can be difficult to take a step back and look at your customers’ journey in finding you. Often it can be helpful to have some support giving a fresh perspective, particularly in identifying ways to fix any issues with a site not being as effective as it can.

Whatever your reason, if you’d like support to analyse whether your website is working for you, or to help you to meet your website’s goals better, then get in touch – I’d love to help you be as successful as you can.

Building a website: Should you be asking what it costs or what it’s worth?

One of the most common questions I’m asked when I meet potential new clients or even when I just happen to mention what I do is: How much does it cost to build a website? This is normally followed by a statement such as “I don’t need a big site such a few pages” or “I’ve been quoted £3000 for a website, it seems a lot”.

Should you be asking about cost before value
Costing up a website can be bewildering so ask for skilled help

The fact that this is such a difficult question to answer but such a simple one to ask is no doubt the cause of many a headache of web development agencies all over the country. The fundamental challenge with the question lies not just with the ‘How Long is a piece of string’ nature of the question, but around the perception that creating a web page is easy because there are so many tools out there which provide templated solutions..  (I’ve blogged on the pros and cons of this before)… and to some extent, yes, it is easier than ever to build a website but this doesn’t mean it will add value to your organisation.

The harder question is how much is a good website worth to your organisation. A well designed website won’t just drive traffic but it will turn visitors into customers and generate sales and/or revenue for your organisation. A poorly designed website may have the opposite effect. The skill is not always in the building a site but in the thinking behind it and the bringing together of many talents to grow your business online.

Bob the Builder
Whether it’s Bob the Builder or your local plumber you expect to pay for qualified skilled tradesmen, building a website is no different

If you were to ask a plumber to fix a leaky pipe or sort out your boiler you would be paying a skilled tradesman for their time at a cost which could range from £30 per hour to £60 or more per hour depending on the job being done. e.g. a job requiring a CORGI qualified plumber is likely to cost more. It is very similar in the world of building a website.

To illustrate the costs of building a site a bit better let me give some ball park figures for the staff costs for a small site with no added gadgets or e-commerce functionality:

– a web designer can cost between £200-400 per day depending on experience (and location!), this equates roughly to a rate between £25 and £50 per hour. It can take anywhere between 1 day and a week to come up with and agree concepts for a small sized site (depending on the subject matter & complexity). Averaging this out a cost could be £800 – £1000

– This then needs to be built and depending on whether you want a site you can update yourself, and the level of analytics etc you want behind it, this could be between 1-3 days or more, but let’s say it’s just a simple site and £500

– You then need text, images and the site to be tested before you can even think about going live. Say another £100-£200.

Without even thinking about the cost of pulling the above work together, or non staff overheads you’ve spent approx £1500… and this doesn’t even look at the cost of items which would really add value to your site such as

  • user journey mapping.
  • a strategy to help you maximise value from your website.
  • content written by a professional copywriter.
  • cost of graphics tailored for your website.
  • functionality to encourage users to return or transact on your site such as blogs, e-commerce functionality, or discussion boards.
  • mobile compatibility
  • ongoing measurement & analysis of visitors using the site, and recommendations as to how to get more value.

All of these things take more time than that listed above, and all of a sudden spending £3000 on a well designed, functional website which you can keep up to date yourself and which will encourage people to do business with you seems like it might be cheap!

When businesses are struggling with recession, and start up organisations are struggling to find money to get off the ground I can understand that spending any money on building a website can be difficult. However, I would argue that it doesn’t matter how much or little you spend on your website if you don’t get value out of the end result; the first step is to ask what a website can do for you and then approach an expert to find out how to make sure that is what happens.

To get advice on how your website could be adding more value contact Saja Ltd

Grabbing your Pinterest at Social Media Week Stirling

This week has been Social Media Week, events were running from San Francisco to Glasgow bringing people together in the physical world to share their knowledge of being Social in the online world; and here is Stirlingshire events were being run too, thanks to a collaberation between Stirling University and STEP.

I made it to a few of the events starting with a look at Social Media Monitoring with Figure 11 Comms and my week’s events culminated on Friday with a really interesting talk on linking CRM (a set of processes and tools to manage your contacts & customers) to Social Media from Wildcat Solutions, and as an added bonus Catriona Cripps who was giving the talk tied it into MacMillan Cancer Coffee morning by bringing along tasty cakes. I took away several ideas and pieces of software I am keen to research further from this and I may write another blog on my findings further down the line.

However the highlight of the week for me was the talk which Creation Social Media ran on PInterest on Friday morning. They really opened up my eyes to the power of PInterest as a marketing tool for all types of company and not just those who are more graphically inclined. The statistics around the reach of PInterest were staggering for a site which has been around for a relatively short time even in Social Media terms; and the talk opened up some really interesting discussion on the type of use the site could have in the future. It will be a very interesting topic to follow over the next year I’m sure.

It was an engaging talk which has gone so far as to inspire me to set up a PInterest page for Saja Ltd. I shall be interested to monitor the use of PInterest as new developments and digital marketing strategies start to consider and incorporate the power of the pin.

Let me know your thoughts – Do you think you’re making the most of PInterest yet or do you think this is a pin which will lose its sharpness once the novelty wears off? As anew convert I’d love to know your views.

Is the increase in ‘DIY’ templated sites a downward spiral for user experience?

I had a call from a client last night who had encountered an issue with their website. Like many small business, or clubs & organisations, they set up and look after their own WordPress site; the sites don’t need a lot of technical knowledge to run and come with good user instructions for setting them up. In many cases this approach can be a great way for start ups to get themselves online simply and effectively, the CMS style interface is normally fit for purpose and to begin with they do not need anything more sophisticated, but periodically they encounter an issue which requires a little bit more technical support and this is often when I get a call.

For small businesses who don’t have in house IT or digital support, using a dedicated agency or support company to run their website can be expensive and isn’t always practical or cost effective. A fully supported digital solution may be something that they may aspire to in the future but often I speak to people who are just looking for help setting something up that they can run themselves. Supporting businesses who are looking for advice on how to set up their website, and providing support packages for small websites who are looking for sporadic pieces of technical advice to resolve issues such as those my client experienced yesterday is something I get a lot of satisfaction in providing. In these instances I know that I am making life easier for those that I’m working with, saving time and money for them, and often I can add value to the user experience of their digital presence at the same time or can work with the organisation towards their more long term strategic goals for digital users.

However a recent flux of adverts on the TV for the ‘build your own website’ solutions that come with hosting providers, has left me wondering whether or not a surge in small business websites being set up by non digital experts may have a detrimental effect on the over all user experiences online. I have been lucky enough to work with many digital experts in my career to date, some are experts at writing for the web, some at user experience and/or design, some at coding, some at digital marketing, but rarely do you find someone who is an expert at them all. I have always maintained that my skill is in a general understanding of these fields but also, most importantly, the ability and knowledge of the need to bring together the experts as required and help to co-ordinate their work. So, if lots of websites are being created using generic tools by people who are not considering the overall digital experience of their user, then will the experience be degraded in the future? Or is it possible that this area will become self policing and there will be a greater understanding everywhere of the importance of communicating effectively online?

As someone who still periodically encounters garish sites set up in old style HTML with unfriendly colours, bad spelling & grammar, and poor image choices, I can only support tools that help novice website builders create sites that are easier to use and more pleasing to the eye. This has to be good for small business and organisations who cannot always afford to pay for a site to be developed from scratch. However in my experience getting guidance from an expert with areas such as labelling, site structure and cross linking will more than pay for itself in terms of customer retention and value in the long term.

What do you think: are you encountering poor web design on a more frequent basis or do you think the increase in the number of templated sites is improving the overall user experience online?