Recently I had an opportunity to work on a project for a large telco. The case was quite uncomplicated: our client was losing visitors to the website and online sales were dropping. Our task was to identify the reasons why this was happening: was it because of poor efficiency of online campaigns or perhaps there were some other reasons. Writes – Maciej Milewski, business advisor at Gemius.
Quite obviously, what we had to do was to take a closer look at the traffic sources of our client’s website in the first place. What we found out was hardly surprising: for most large websites there are typically two most important traffic sources, i.e. direct traffic and search. We analysed the referring websites, search traffic, performance campaigns and other important visit sources over the last 12 months and realized that the website traffic decrease was due to the slumping direct traffic and brand search. So we came to the conclusion that the main reason our client was getting less users to the website was a general brand issue.
This is quite easy to explain if we just forget all the technical details of web analytics for the moment and recall the basics of marketing theory and the consumer decision making process. Customers who intend to buy a product will make a decision based on various factors they find important. For most products one of the first factors consumers will take into account is the BRAND. If I know the brand and if I feel this brand is okay for me, I will consider it while making my final purchase decision and most likely go to the brand’s website to check the offer. If I reject a brand because I feel it’s not for me or I think it offers bad quality, I will just exclude it from my alternatives and never go to their website.
So if a brand is the real traffic driver to the website, how is this represented in web analytics tools? Not all direct traffic will be considered brand-related. It largely depends on the way a visit starts (whether it is the home page or a specific URL within the website). The brand is also a traffic driver for some search visits, especially those where users actually search for the brand, not a specific product. To identify the brand traffic, you need a couple of technical tricks, but it’s possible in most web analytics tools, such as gemiusPrism or Google Analytics.
The bad news for digital marketers is that identifying brand traffic is an easy ride compared to the task of boosting brand traffic This is because the only way to do so is to actually build the brand and make it wanted by customers. And you can do it only by engaging customers via integrated marketing efforts using both offline and online channels.