The obsessive focus on online traffic numbers seems to be cooling a little. A recent article I read started with this sentence: “Everyone knows that the really big and popular websites have a ton of visitors.”
The article goes on to detail that to become a top 1,000 website you need at least 4.1 million visitors per month; to become a top 500 website you need at least 7.4 million visitors per month; to become a top 100 website you need at least 22 million visitors per month, and so on. That’s interesting enough information, but unfortunately it’s not very useful.
Though it has its place, web traffic is a poor gauge of anything very meaningful to a business or a brand. It may give broad indications of audience size, but that number has significance only if used in conjunction with more nuanced and specific indicators.
Traffic numbers are easy to understand, they are easy to pull and track via analytics programs, and they may stave off more difficult questions. But they certainly don’t tell much of a story. Visits to bp.com are up more than 750 percent over the past three months. Does anybody want to argue that is positive for the company?
Focusing on outputs rather than outcomes leads to a reliance on metrics that reveal information so isolated as to be meaningless. More than ever, it is critical to use analytics that move past raw volume to determine who has been reached, whether they have been engaged, and what action they have taken as a result. That’s the information that matters. Organizations that focus on these specifics will be the ones that successfully and consistently achieve their goals online.