Business online has changed from five years ago. Website visits used to be the only way to measure online interaction with your brand. Today, we have social networks, externally-hosted blogs and other interactions with our brands that occur away from our carefully-crafted websites. So is measuring website visits enough?
Here's the situation. I recently met with one of our newest clients whose website traffic was roughly flat over the past year. This client has a very active blog that's hosted externally -- that is, the blog isn't part of their website and visits to the blog aren't included in their website traffic numbers. They also have a thriving Facebook page.
Their "prospects" visit their website. We can make the assumption that their "customers" visit their blog more often than their website. A third group, Facebook fans, probably aren't visiting our client's website nearly as much since they've created an active community on their Facebook page.
"Customers" are interacting with our client in different places online. In fact, the blog and the Facebook page may be cannibalizing some of their website traffic.
"Website traffic" as we know it is no longer encompasses all interactions with their brand online.
Rather than just measuring website visits, I suggest you measure cumulative traffic, including website traffic, visits to your company's Facebook page, your YouTube channel, views of articles via RSS, visits to a blog on a subdomain (blog.yourcompany.com) or third-party service like Wordpress.com, and perhaps visits to any niche social network your company participates in -- as long as you can track visits or views.
The point here is that meaningful interactions can also happen away from your website. What part of online interaction could your company measure better?
photo credit: webtreats