Driving The Spike

by , Mar 11, 2004, 12:00 AM
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This may not be my greatest column--and it's all your fault. I had so many requests for the Market Sector report last week (and the requests are still coming in) that I decided to post the whole thing to my Web site. Of course, I had to figure out how to create percentages in Crystal Decisions, and then I thought it would be cool to add some graphs, and of course I spent a ton of time getting the formatting correct. But naturally, it meant that the time I was supposed to be working on this column got frittered away just so you could all have this data. Now it's late, the night before this column is due, and I'm tired. So, as I said, this may not be my best effort. But here it is.

The good news is that now that I have it up there, I plan to update it each month, so you will always be able to stop by to see the latest figures. The other good news is that I discovered how much people like this column, which makes my editor at MediaPost happy.

Case Study: This week's case study came about as I was preparing for a demo a few days ago. It is in the area of Personal Care products, and the company I was looking at sends out an opt-in newsletter to promote related products. The newsletter consisted of a number of product promotions with links to different Branded Web sites, each dedicated to a different but related product line. Using my favorite Web site traffic tool, Hitwise, I was able to examine the very sharp spike in Web traffic market share as a result of the newsletter, with an interesting twist.

The first and most prominent link in the newsletter resulted in a startling spike in market share: a 333% increase, in fact--completely dwarfing traffic to the main company site. And, by examining the clickstream data, also via Hitwise, it was clear that the newsletter was the big traffic driver. 41% of the total site traffic came directly from the email link.

The second link on the page (a paragraph down from the main link, but still above the fold) showed a spike, but far less impressive. In fact, the first link's traffic was 333% higher than the second link's Web site. (In fact, the second link's Web site peaked at the exact trough of the pre-spike traffic of the first link's Web site, which is why both numbers are 333%). But here is the interesting thing: the second link was still responsible for 42% of all the traffic to that link's Web site, the same percentage as the first.

So although the two Web sites had dramatic differences in the number of visitors, the percentage makeup of those coming directly from the email link proportionately the same! Why? I mean, this is almost like quantum physics: the percentage of people arriving from an email newsletter seems to affect ancillary traffic coming from other sources such as search engines. Could this be a word-of-mouth effect?

One final piece of the puzzle--if you ever wanted to know whether in-house newsletters can drive acquisition: the same brand sent out a newsletter promoting a brand new newsletter that would provide product promotions. The email increased market share traffic to the site by 3200%! Now, that's what I call a spike. Holy VolleyBall Game, Batman!

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