I have been using this adage that I had coined in quite a few of the customer meetings. It sounds corny but this is a universal truth that every retail business / social activist have figured out over time and have exploited well. From the bazaars of the ages to the malls of the modern world, they were all formed for this exact reason – allow people to congregate in one place so that you can sell products and services to them.
Interestingly this adage has also clearly evolved over time and has taken shape on the internet. If you look at the online business today, the aspect of attracting people to one’s website is considered a serious business and typically the marketing department spends large budgets to bring new traffic to their websites.
However, the real challenge is to identify the right channel to focus the marketing spends. Some of the options are:
- Search engine management / optimization
- Online advertising
- Partner networks / sites
- Aggregators (price, inventory etc.,)
The answer can be found
The web analytics engine that is already configured for the site (you do have one don’t you?). It provides details on the source of traffic to a site and helps understand some of the top sources such as search engines better. The challenge with internal data is that while it gives a clear picture of your visitors today, it really does not tell you about the visitors who DO NOT come to your site.
This is the part that gets more interesting. Here is where we need to spend time to figure out where people are congregating on the internet today. This is not straight forward to find out unless we have a handle on the pulse of the entire internet and how the traffic is flowing. There are tools out there that provide this kind of data. Typically your content delivery network (CDN) is a good place to start. A typical CDN such as Akamai has a good view of the overall traffic patterns of the internet given the number of clients for whom they carry the traffic. The second source of traffic is the web analytics companies and their aggregate data across all their clients. This will give a picture of where the traffic is shaping and heading today.
The trends today point out that congregation is happening on the social computing platforms. Having figured out that the congregation is in the social computing area, we look for further clues on where we have to focus our investments on and there are sources of data that shows which are the more active social networks such as the one below