Search Traffic Expectations
Christmas time is always a challenging time for search traffic to websites. I am regularly asked by clients why traffic has fallen away on the run up to the big day. There seems to be a level of disconnect in many people’s minds about the expectations of the Internet and websites.
This week I was telephoned by a client who has an ecommerce site selling physical products. They are a long established ‘etailer’ with a solid client base and a market leader in the UK. They regularly get around 1000 – 2000 unique visits a day to their website with a 1 to 2% conversion to order. Order value can be anything from low £10’s to £1000’s. They were querying a drop off in traffic towards the end of last week.
Now back in the days of sales lead generation using mailshots or cold calling, a 1 to 2% conversion rate would have been seen as a really good figure. However it would take time to build and clean the lists of names and often it would need 2 or 3 attempts at the same name to get a response. Then along came the Internet and a myth was built quickly that all you now needed was a website and you would see constant instant sales success and everyone would become millionaires overnight!
Now I have not done any research or read any about the time it takes to establish a business on the Internet but It is my guess that it is no different than establishing a ‘bricks and mortar’ business or a ‘mail order’ business. A presence and reputation has to be built along with brand identity and customer base. There are many new tools to help us do this today such as Facebook and Twitter but when you start out with a new Facebook account you still need to engage with people to get them to follow and like you. This takes time.
These Internet businesses will in most cases still display the same characteristics as the bricks and mortar or mail order businesses with customer buying patterns. Just because the medium you engage the customer with is now the Internet does not in most cases change the buying patterns of your customers. There are a few exceptions to this most notably the digital world such as music downloads where people will purchase a download any time of the day or year.
However what is different is a high street store will be open until Christmas Eve and providing they have stock you can go in and buy your goods right up to closing time. With an online business there is little point buying anything if it is not going to arrive in time for the occasion. This will mean last shipping dates will be a few days before Christmas Eve. Therefore you would expect traffic and orders to fall off at this time.
It is simple really but as I started out saying there is an unrealistic expectation as to what the Internet and a website can deliver. Building your online presence takes time and needs to be worked at in the same way as we have always done this. Build your brand and reputation and the customers will come but do not expect the same sales day in day out all year round. You will still experience rises and falls determined by what other factors are affecting the customers.