It is around this time of year, i.e. early January, that many review their experiences, successes and not-quite-successes of the previous year and plan for the forthcoming year. In fact there are countless magazines, blogs, newsletters, Facebook links and so on that encourage … nay, exhort us to do so.
For once ahead of myself, I did much of this during November and December and was able to enter January ready to roll. For the purposes of this post, what I covered during my review of 2012 is irrelevant. What is relevant is an unexpected success that I discovered yesterday.
Some of you reading this may be aware that for the 12 months up to August 2012, I was involved in the refurbishment and early stages of the Con Passionata restaurant in Carmarthen. A great deal of what I did, aside from interior design, branding and some hands-on work once the doors opened, was online marketing. And part of that online marketing was blogging the story and connecting with people on social media.
Yesterday, I opened an email from WordPress that had arrived earlier this month summarising the annual statistics relating to the blog that I wrote while involved with the project. For some days it sat in my inbox. I resolutely ignored it because having exited the business, I had stopped updating the blog in July, added one final post in September, and so expected nothing more than a sorry report of low numbers. I had regularly monitored the stats while working on the blog and was pleased with progress, but anticipated that it had sunk out of circulation completely once work had stopped.
The Jaw Slowly Drops
When I began to read through the summary, my jaw began to drop.
During 2012, the blog site had around 12,000 views. TWELVE THOUSAND! Even though we’re talking page views, that’s still quite a lot of visitors. And visitors mean eyeballs. As digital media expert Nick Tadd said to myself and David recently, “Guys, it’s all about eyeballs” when you’re on the web.
Now in the general scheme of life and busy websites, 12,000 views is nothing. Not even a ripple in the vast ocean of the ether. But for a new business with a low or zero marketing budget, it translates into a lot of people who are finding your site and your offering. And a percentage of those people will translate into real customers … and they of course impact the all-important bottom line.
Even more jaw-dropping was that most of my work on the site was between January and March. Updates tailed off afterwards as I got caught up in the real day-to-day world. Visitor numbers peaked between March and June and unsurprisingly fell as activity lessened. Statistics show that even without any updates at all, the site is still showing up on Google searches and people are clicking through on to the site.
This is an important observation for any small business because maintaining the momentum of activity would without a doubt have maintained an increase in visitors. In other words, when you have a web site or blog, keep updating it and keep going.
Developing an Online Brand
Two things have struck me as important.
- For the past three or four years, I have – without realising it – been building a personal brand online. This has only become apparent to me within the past week. Tinkering with social media, interacting with others on forums (should that be fora?) and blogging have introduced me to new people, and expanded my connections and network further than I thought possible. When I invested the accumulation of that effort – in other words, what had become the beginnings of a brand – into a bricks-and-mortar business, it created leverage and enabled the word to spread quickly.
- In a small hands-on business, there is often debate about how one’s time is best spent to maximise return – time ROI if you like. Do I do the cleaning myself or get a cleaner so that I can get on to social media? Is doing the menial tasks saving money, or is it an investment that allows you to spend more time spreading the word about your business to get more people in through the door?
So What’s Important about This for You?
In a nutshell, here’s what I learned from these statistics :
- your online efforts are cumulative and you will build momentum if you stick with it
- you will only realise what you are achieving by continually analysing visitor statistics and behaviour
- know where to find your customers online and how best to engage with them
- eyeballs = increase in the bottom line.
In our present age, we are experiencing a major shift in the way we live and work, and also in the way that we run our businesses. The times they are a-changing. Ignore the power of the web, social and digital media at your peril.
This infographic, which I found on Property Tribes and which looks at changes over the past ten years, explains where we’re at better than I ever can.