Why Really Smart Advertisers Look Beyond The Big Shiny Numbers

Big numbers, seems the entire world wants to see them, even those in the local advertiser space in Canada. Big numbers are good, but what about results and do these always correspond? This article will take a look at a couple of older web posts and some updated data from my favorite small business in Canada – The Bra Lady.

I want to reference a post that I made a few years back titled, Putting Numbers into Perspective, in which I look very closely at the value of advertising from a Calgary Realtor perspective. Here is an excerpt making reference to the search volumes for Google and YellowPages.ca at that time:

While some of the skeptical business owners might say, “well, that’s not a lot”, most likely the top performers within the industry would look at those numbers and be very excited about what they represent.

The first thing to consider is this; the search numbers above represent qualified prospects. These are directive searches; somebody is specifically typing in those keywords or searches. I believe that if somebody logs on YellowPages.ca and does a category search for real estate agent in Calgary, they are most likely seeking a professional to provide those services. The same goes for Google, if a prospect types in Calgary realtor, clearly they are looking for a realtor in Calgary.

The point of the entire article is specifically around how top realtors look at numbers very differently to measure return on investment.

Second, I want to reference an article by Tom Tsinas titled “Google vs Yellow Pages” in which he provides some specific details on dissecting traffic numbers and examines very closely YellowPages.ca as part of the media mix. Here is an except from this posting:

Google vs Yellow Pages – This battle is a lot closer than most of you can imagine. I’m constantly hearing about how the Yellow Pages are dying and there’s no value in them. While most may say that I’m biased because of the number of years I spent in the industry, the same cannot be said for Google Analytics.

Google Analytics cannot lie, it has no biases and, thank goodness for the Yellow Pages, paints a much different picture than many so called experts. You just have to know what to look for.

Read the full article for the detailed analysis that Tom did on the numbers from one of his clients. This is a great article that is worth taking a read. I will use a couple of key measurements he spoke of, namely referral traffic, bounce rate and listing the multiple referral list for YellowPages.ca.

So what about the TheBraLady? Below are some stats from The Bra Lady, Custom Bras in Calgary. For disclosure sake, as many of my readers know, she is my mom and yes I do all of her online marketing in Calgary.

Let’s examine what Google Analytics is telling us about her stats. From January 1 to September 30 here is the traffic from different sources along with the bounce rate, the lower the number the better:

Google Organic – 1576 (bounce rate – 27.98%) – NOTE: this includes traffic from Google Search and Google Images as well as Google.com and Google.ca. Further discussion below about the local value of this traffic – which is about 50% of the number listed above.

YellowPages.ca – 495 (bounce rate – 21.02%)

Yahoo – 60 (bounce rate – 33.33%)

Microsoft Live – 56 (bounce rate – 37.50%)

NOTE: With Google Analytics, Google has done a very good job of pre-aggregating all their sources of traffic in the Google bucket, this would include traffic from Google.com and Google.ca and includes traffic from Google Search, Images, etc. My only complaint with Google Analytics, unlike log analysis, is the breakdown of traffic by time of day. In the case of The Bra Lady when I look at the log files, I see a very high percentage of traffic from Google coming after midnight, usually between 1am and 3am. If I correspond this to keywords, what I notice is that late at night, we are getting lots of “junk” traffic, people looking for pictures of women in lingerie, most coming from US or International based IP addresses. If I remove all the easy to identify “junk” traffic, I notice that the good traffic from Google drops by almost 50% in this particular case.

In the YellowPages.ca bucket was sources of traffic from the following sites which are all part of the network and these to be added together to get the true picture of traffic from this source. This is important to note when calculating return on investment to ensure that you have all the data.


YellowPages.ca Business Directory

CalgaryPlus.ca

Canada411.ca Phone Book

MyTelus Business Finder

SuperPages.ca – purchased by Yellow Pages Group in 2005

Sympatico MSN YellowPages.ca

YellowPages.ca Facebook Application

For her specific business, as you can see Google and YellowPages.ca are both very good drivers of traffic to her website. In terms of bounce rate, YellowPages.ca is showing as the strongest. So if we were only interested in the “Big Shiny Numbers” we might stop here, make our conclusions and call it a good day at the office.

The real question is which one is converting into sales? Although at this point I can’t get into specific financial conversion, I can tell you that the order of the top 2 from web traffic is opposite in terms of conversions to sales. This does not come as any surprise to us when we consider at what stage a user in their buying decision. People don’t go to YellowPages.ca to “surf”, they go their to conduct a specific local action, unlike search engines whose user motivation tends to be higher up in the purchase funnel.

Lastly, I would suggest that you take a look at another older post from January 1 of this year called – Word of Mouth Needs Support – A Deeper Look at Web Referral Traffic – in which I examine specific tactics for a small business to dig deeper with their customers to fully understand conversion of traffic so that a business owner can make business decisions not based on hype, but based on fact.

The bottom line decision for any local business is not who drives more traffic to their website, rather who drives more sales conversions.

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