3rd in a series of 6 planned posts discussing the internal project to grow the audience to this blog site. This report focuses on analyzing factors impacting trends in visitor / view metrics. To view other posts in the series visit http://demandaccelerator.com/project-dogfood
This is the 3rd of 6 planned installments documenting the progress on Project Dogfood, my project to build a targeted audience to this blog that will convert into potential leads for my project based services. It was an interesting month. On one hand, my Twitter followers took a sharp turn upwards, as indicated in the change in trajectory of my brand awareness graph. On the other hand, it appears from first glance at the monthly visitor / view graph that there was a slight drop in visitors/views to the site, as well as a noticeable drop in average number of views per visitor.
I would like to focus this month’s progress report on an analysis of the change in trend for the visitor/view statistics. There’s a lot of information out there on how to attract Twitter followers, I’m doing those activities and it’s working. What’s more interesting is to investigate the other more complicated trend.
Refresher on my sources for Analytics
I am sourcing the blog site traffic statistics from WordPress and Hootsuite. WordPress provides a detailed stats report on unique visitors and views of posts and pages. Hootsuite provides a quick analytics report on the clicks of the ow.ly shortened links. Google Analytics is not available for WordPress hosted blogs.
Look at correlated data points to try to understand behaviours in the numbers
Taking a further look at several data points brought to light an interesting behavior pattern. It seems that what has fallen this month is the number of people who click the link to the blog in my Twitter profile. These people likely then read a post or two – hence the higher number of average views per visitor.
WordPress stats provide a data point on Twitter as a referrer, but does not provide info on the link clicked in Twitter. In the previous 2 months, the number of clicks on shortened links, reported by HootSuite, has been a smaller number than what I record as a WordPress Twitter referrer- with the difference being the number of clicks on the profile link.
I’ve also being collecting information on the posts and pages viewed. Corresponding to this change in behaviour has been a dramatic drop in views of my site front page. The encouraging thing to note, is that visitors are finding their way directly to the posts.
Another change was an increase in search engines as a referrer, as shown in the pie graph below. The details of this show primarily an increase in Google as a referrer. So while twitter referrers dropped, search engine referrers grew. There seems to be a number of referrers not captured. I’ve made sure that pie represents the total number of visitors, and account for these as direct or unknown.
Consider possible contributing factors to the trend
So what had changed to cause this behaviour? My followers on twitter increased substantially enough, yet it seems these new people didn’t check out my profile link.
Interestingly enough, one thing that changed is that I branded the blog URL and updated my twitter profile link from http://loriogrady.wordpress.com to http://DemandAccelerator.com . (I checked it worked, so there wasn’t a typo). I don’t know if this had impact. It makes sense to me that, on Twitter, where you are a personal brand, people may be encouraged to follow a personal link rather than a link to an as of yet unknown brand name. Since both URLs still work, I’ve changed it back temporarily to test if this makes a difference.
What also may have been a factor are the blog topics, and the fact that I use different #hashtags when tweeting about the posts. The previous month I wrote posts on Apps and BYOD that were quite popular. As well, the first installment of the Project Dogfood report has continued to be popular.
In parallel, two weeks ago I registered the sitemap.xml document with both Google Webmaster and Bing Webmaster tools. This may account for the increase in referrers from Google, as the posts are now being indexed by Google.
Be patient while you are making changes
I’m also making adjustments to the front page. My plan is to have the site be my project based consulting services web site – with the blog being the freemium version of my platform of services. I’ve utilized the WordPress feature that the front page can be a static page, while the leader page of recent blog posts is a sub page. In an agile approach, I have been making small incremental changes towards this, making the structural changes first, with plans to improve on the copy on the static pages in the coming weeks. This change wouldn’t account for less people being referred to the page, but may account for some drop off on people who click on further posts. I also have to remember to be patient while I am making adjustments. More on this next month.
I still view the visitors/views statistics as positive. Some numbers have gone up, while others have gone down. I still believe it is progress towards growing an audience to the site and attracting billable clients. The site is fluid right now. My agile approach will need to be responsive to the stats I am collecting as I tweak the site. I need to investigate further ways of attracting the audience and driving the conversion rates.